Spotlight On: Never Say Never by Emily Goodwin

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Title: Never Say Never

Author: Emily Goodwin

Genre: Full length, stand-alone contemporary romance

Release Date: September 28, 2015

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Blurb

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My life was full of nevers.

It was never supposed to go this way. I was never supposed to lose Mom so soon. I was never supposed to worry about making ends meet, to worry about losing the farm. I never thought I’d be working a job I hate, with a boss who was more interested in what was under my shirt than in my head. Saving neglected and abused horses had been my whole life. It was my reprieve, my sanity, my last saving grace in a cruel world. I never thought I’d grow to resent it, but I guess there is a first for everything.

Then I met him.

The Hollywood playboy. The entitled, cocky asshole that I can’t get out of my head. I never thought there could be more to him than sex appeal and an infamous reputation of loving and leaving. I never thought I’d fall for him, put my heart on the line, and risk letting him completely destroy me.

But you know what they tell you…never say never.

 

Purchase your copy today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK

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Excerpt

 

“I dreamed about you,” she whispers. I can hear other people talking around her and remember she’s at work.

“A sex dream, right?” I say with a smirk.

“If it was, I wouldn’t tell you,” she says, and I can tell she’s smiling.

“Then I know it was one. Was I good in this dream? I gotta know so I can live up to your expectations.”

“There you go, being presumptuous again,” she laughs.

“Maybe,” I say. “Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking. Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it.” She was a fan before we met. Has she thought about fucking me before? Becoming a sex icon is weird. Don’t get me wrong, I love it at times. But it’s fucking weird to know that women all over the world fantasize about me solely based on my looks and the little bit of personality they see during interviews, and it’s all fake anyway.

“I have very high standards,” she jokes. “Dream or no dream.”

“I always please, multiple times. And I have dreamed about it. More than once.”

“You did not just say that!” she exclaims, and I smile as I imagine the look on her face. “You are a little cocky, ya know.”

“There’s nothing little about my cock.”

She just laughs. “We’ll see about that. Oh my God, no, no—I didn’t mean—oh shit,” she stammers, and I laugh even harder. “Friday,” she says. “Where are we going?”

“I don’t care,” I say honestly. “I’m still not sure what to do around here.”

“There’s plenty to do by you, in Billings. Here…we have a movie theatre that closes at nine, two diners, one pizza place, and a couple fast food chains. Oh, and a bar, of course.”

“How do you live?”

She just laughs. “You get used to it, and online shopping is a life saver.”

“How’s Aurelia?” I ask before I have to go.

“She’s doing pretty well, actually. I think she’s lonely, and I feel bad because I’m gone all day and don’t feel comfortable letting her out when I’m not there. Not yet at least.”

“If you could do horse stuff full time, would you?”

“God, yes,” she says right away. “That’s what my mom did. But it’s not that easy. Rescues are expensive, and I have vet bills to pay, so I’m stuck here. I refuse to believe it’s forever though.”

“I don’t believe it either.” I make a mental note to have Claire look into the expenses of horse rescues. Speaking of Claire, she’s motioning to me. “I have to get back to work,” I tell her. “I’ll call you again. You still have to tell me why you’re having a bad day.”

“It’s not so bad anymore,” she says softly. “And I’d like that. Bye, Aiden.”

 

About the Author

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Facebook | Goodreads | Website

Emily Goodwin is the author of the twice banned dark romance, STAY, as well as over a dozen other titles. Emily writes all types of romance, from love stories set in the zombie apocalypse to contemporary romances taking place on a western horse ranch. Emily lives in Indiana with her husband, children, and many pets, including a German Shepherd named Vader. When she isn’t writing, Emily can be found riding her horses, designing and making costumes, and sitting outside with a good book.

 

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Happy Release Day! Never Say Never, by Emily Goodwin

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Title: Never Say Never

Author: Emily Goodwin

Genre: Full length, stand-alone contemporary romance

Release Date: September 28, 2015

goodreads

 

Blurb

My life was full of nevers.

It was never supposed to go this way. I was never supposed to lose Mom so soon. I was never supposed to worry about making ends meet, to worry about losing the farm. I never thought I’d be working a job I hate, with a boss who was more interested in what was under my shirt than in my head. Saving neglected and abused horses had been my whole life. It was my reprieve, my sanity, my last saving grace in a cruel world. I never thought I’d grow to resent it, but I guess there is a first for everything.

Then I met him.

The Hollywood playboy. The entitled, cocky asshole that I can’t get out of my head. I never thought there could be more to him than sex appeal and an infamous reputation of loving and leaving. I never thought I’d fall for him, put my heart on the line, and risk letting him completely destroy me.

But you know what they tell you…never say never.

Buy Links:

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Excerpt

A tear rolls down her cheek and she bites her lip, trying not to cry. Then her face breaks and her shoulders slump forward. I stand there, shaking, terrified of the raw emotion. My heart breaks for her and I rush forward, wrapping her in my arms as she sobs. It’s beautiful and it’s tragic, and in that moment, I’ve never felt anything more real.

The pain. The sorrow. Her loss. The darkness I try to hard to keep out, that I fight tooth and nail but can never fully avoid. I hold her and feel it all. It swarms around me, filling me, hurting me, opening my eyes. I realize everything I’ve done to desperately hold it together slowly chipped away at me until there was nothing left, nothing but a shell of a man with an empty heart that I never though was capable of feeling anything but hurt. A heart I thought was never worthy of a second chance, was never capable of redemption.

It’s then that I realize I never, ever want to let her go.

And it’s crazy, because I don’t know her—really know her—but there is something so intimate about holding someone as they cry. It exposes so much, and you can’t hold back as the tears fall and the sadness comes out in waves. I feel my own eyes mist over. I close them and cradle Haley close to me.

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” I tell her. “I promise you that.”

“Look at me,” she repeats. “Have you ever had a date end this way?”

“Our date didn’t even start,” I say. “And hey, you didn’t go crazy and shave your head, so I say you’re doing all right.”

She laughs, and her arms slowly wrap around me. Something inside me relaxes. I sit and pull her onto my lap and we stay there in silence for a few minutes. Gently, I push her hair out of her face. “Want that drink now?” She laughs again and nods.

“I need that drink now.” She stands up and wipes her eyes, smearing her makeup across her cheeks. “And really, I won’t hold it against you or call the tabloids on you if you drop me off at home and call it a night.”

Tabloids? The word is jarring. For a few minutes I was the real Aiden again…and I didn’t mind. “It’s up to you, Haley. I’m not mad or upset, so don’t worry. I don’t like seeing you sad, and if you’d like, I want to try and cheer you up.”

“I’d like that.”

I stand and drape my arm around her. “Are you hungry? I can go get the food.”

“I am. And thanks, Aiden. I…I don’t know.”

“What?” I probe.

“I’m surprised by your kindness.”

“Ouch,” I say with a chuckle. “Thanks?”

She smiles and takes a step toward the restaurant. “Hey, you can’t really blame me, can you?”

I can’t, because I’ve fooled the world—and at times, myself—about who I really am. The partying, the women, the excessive spending, and run-ins with the American law…okay, so maybe I had a reputation. “No, I can’t. But I’m glad I surprised you.”

 

About the Author

1635425

Facebook | Goodreads | Website

Emily Goodwin is the author of the twice banned dark romance, STAY, as well as over a dozen other titles. Emily writes all types of romance, from love stories set in the zombie apocalypse to contemporary romances taking place on a western horse ranch. Emily lives in Indiana with her husband, children, and many pets, including a German Shepherd named Vader. When she isn’t writing, Emily can be found riding her horses, designing and making costumes, and sitting outside with a good book.

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Spotlight On: A Dead End in Vegas by Irene Woodbury

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Title: A Dead End in Vegas

Author: Irene Woodbury

Genre: Women’s Fiction

When the nude body of Dave Sloan’s wife, Tricia, is found dead at the Bellagio in Vegas, he’s stunned.  Why was she even there when she told him she was going to a conference in Phoenix?  Tricia Sloan’s mysterious death shatters, and later transforms, the lives of those closest to her.

 

Author Bio

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Irene Woodbury’s second novel, A DEAD END IN VEGAS, is a dark, probing look at marriage, infidelity, revenge, and grief.  Immersing herself in drama and dysfunction for months on end was a challenge for this upbeat author, whose first book, the humor novel A SLOT MACHINE ATE MY MIDLIFE CRISIS, was published by SynergEbooks in 2011.  At first glance, the two novels seem quite different, but both deal with midlife confusion and chaos, and the complexities and unpredictable nature of the human heart.  And both, of course, are partially set in Las Vegas, a city Irene got to know well during her years as a travel writer.  Between 2000 and 2005, her stories appeared in major newspapers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Irene, who graduated from the University of Houston in 1993, lives in Denver with her husband, Richard, a retired correspondent for Time Magazine who edited both of her novels.  The couple miss traveling, but, after two novels, Irene insists there’s no greater journey than the one into your own heart and mind.

 

Links

Author: www.irenewoodbury.com

Publisher: www.synergebooks.com

A Dead End in Vegas: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-End-Vegas-Irene-Woodbury-ebook/dp/B00NCKEFSI/

Excerpt

Dave interrupted Pam. “Excuse me,” he said sharply. “Your husband claimed the suggestive e-mails were written by a hacker? Who on earth could that be?”

“How should I know?” she snapped. “Maybe some disgruntled student who didn’t like the grade they got on a term paper, or a tech major trying to make a name for himself. This is a college campus. There are always precocious students who are bored with regular class-work and amuse themselves by hacking into professors’ e-mail accounts to make trouble. They have some laughs over a few beers and move on to the next victim. It’s everyday life on a college campus.”

Dave sighed.

“So you’re telling me that my wife was an Internet stalker, and the e-mails and photos came from some student hacker?”

“Yes, that’s right,” she confirmed with a nod. “My husband was the victim, not the perpetrator.”

“Excuse me, Mrs. Daggett, but I can’t sit here and listen to this garbage one more minute. Your husband is a liar!” Dave charged, rising from his chair and grabbing his briefcase. He opened it with a flourish and dumped the contents on her desk.

Taming the Country Star Release Day Blitz!

Welcome to the Taming the Country Star Release Day Blitz!

Check out all the cool blog spots below–but first, be sure to RSVP & join us at the Surf & Turf Bliss online book release party for tonight, 6 – 9 p.m. CST: https://www.facebook.com/events/321673504657347/ –the amazing Ophelia London will also be there with her new release, Making Waves!

http://www.amazon.com/Taming-Country-Star-Hometown-Entangled-ebook/dp/B00KK4DORC/

He’ll do anything to win her heart. She’ll do anything to keep him away.

Country star Cole Grayson is in town, and Kylie Andrews is less than thrilled. As if months of changing the radio station and tearing down his posters weren’t bad enough, now she has to deal with a town of fans swarming toward the man who deceived her the year before. But when Kylie’s eyes meet Cole’s again, she can’t deny the electric chemistry that drew her to him the first time around.

Cole Grayson is on a mission. Ever since Kylie left him, he hasn’t been able to forget her sweet country smile. After writing a song just for her, he sets off for her hometown to prove he’s not the player she thinks he is. But as much as Cole can’t forget her, Kylie wonders if she can forgive him…

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Additional Buy Links

Nook US: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/taming-the-country-star-margo-bond-collins/1119610297?ean=9781622661664

Kindle Worldwide: http://bookShow.me/B00KK4DORC

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Check out the Taming the Country Star Release Day Blitz

Lilly’s Blog: http://lillianmackenzierhine.com/

Blue Chrysalis Book Promotions: http://bluechrysalisbookpromo.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/blog-tour-taming-the-country-star/

Musings of a Writer: http://suemvan.blogspot.com/

Kinky Vanilla Romance: http://kinkyvanillaromance.blogspot.com/2014/06/taming-country-singer-book-blurb-and.html

A good book can change your view for life…: http://twinkle-sugandha.blogspot.in/2014/06/taming-country-star-by-margo-bond.html

The V Mirror: http://vmirror.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/promo-taming-the-country-star-margo-bond-collins/

Deal Sharing Aunt: http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/2014/06/taming-country-singer-by-margo-bond.html

MM Jaye Writes: http://mmjayewrites.com/2014/06/16/taming-the-country-star-by-margo-bond-collins-blog-tour/

3 Partners in Shopping: http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com/2014/06/taming-country-star-by-margo-bond.html

The Reading Life: http://rereadinglives.blogspot.com/2014/06/blurb-hell-do-anything-to-win-her-heart.html

JGRWriter: http://jgrwriter.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/taming-the-country-star-by-margo-bond-collins/

Rough Draft Book Blog: http://roughdraftbookblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/blog-tour-taming-the-country-star-by-margo-bond-collins/

Readsalot: http://www.dehaggerty.com/readsalot

Lisa Day: http://lisaday.weebly.com/now-blogging/margo-bond-collins-on-tour

Cheekypee Reads and Reviews: http://cheekypeereadsandreviews.blogspot.com/2014/06/taming-country-singer-blog-tour.html

Effrosyni’s Blog: http://effrosinimoss.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/taming-the-country-star-by-margo-bond-collins/

Nicholas Rossis: http://nicholasrossis.me/2014/06/16/taming-the-country-star-by-margo-bond-collins/

Melanie Karsak: http://melaniekarsak.blogspot.com/2014/06/taming-country-star-by-margo-bond.html

Sharon Bayliss: http://www.sharonbayliss.com/2014/06/taming-country-star-by-margo-bond.html

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About the Author

Margo Bond Collins is the author of contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them. She currently writes for Entangled’s Red-Hot Bliss line.

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Connect with Margo

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/margobondcollins
Email: MargoBondCollins@gmail.com
Website: http://www.MargoBondCollins.net
Blog: http://www.MargoBondCollins.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin @MargoBondCollin
Google+: https://plus.google.com/116484555448104519902
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mbondcollins/

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Blog Tour and Giveaway: Shifty Magic by Judy Teel

Shifty Magic
by Judy Teel

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…some people will do anything for revenge.

A tough PI struggles to track down a vengeful serial killer only to discover that the murderer holds the key to her secret magical heritage.

Book One in the YA13 paranormal/mystery series Dangerous Magic by Judy Teel. “Expect action, on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, and the perfect touch of romance.”

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Win a $25 Amazon / BN GC! A Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Excerpt

I inched forward, far enough to see past the end of the alley and into the loading area of the abandoned Walmart. Only one stubborn streetlight on the other side of the broken security fence cast its inadequate glow across the cracked asphalt. Shadows pushed around the edges of the open space, deepening where they cluttered up against rusty dumpsters and smashed crates.

My heart thudded against my ribs at the sight of the woman standing just inside the slash of light, huddling in on herself, shaking. She was average height and on the plump side, around twenty like me, with light brown hair. Unlike me, her boobs looked ready to spill out of the low-cut halter top she wore, and her tight micro skirt was so close to showing her goods that if she twitched, I’d be scarred for life.

Three male vamps cruised around her like sharks. Their fangs were displayed like sharp, curved knives, their features sunken parodies of a human face, more like fleshy skulls as their insatiable hunger gained control. I wondered how much money they’d offered to lure her out of her zone and into such a dangerously secluded area. Maybe all they’d needed was to promise her the erotic trip that their venom gave. Either way, she’d made a fatal error.

People were incredibly stupid about vampires. They had no idea what they were dealing with.

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About the Author

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I live in North Carolina with my boisterous family–husband, three kids, a dog and a geriatric bunny–and yup, I’m Southern so occasionally I let a “y’all” slip out. Maybe more than occasionally.

I love my job and dedicate as much of my time to writing as I can. When I’m not doing the weaving of the adventurous and romantic tales, I’m running errands, driving people around (or crazy depending on your perspective), and generally pretending I’m a grownup.

When I was fifteen, I knew I wanted to be a novelist–wanted to write for Harlequin actually. But the calling to tell stories came a lot earlier than that, I just didn’t know what it meant.

I had a lot of growing up to do before I could manage it, though many would claim the growing up part didn’t take–you know who you are–but I finally have my dream job.

Life rocks—so should the books you read!

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Contact Judy Teel

Webpage: http://judyteel.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JudyTeelBooks?ref=hl

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/judyteelbooks

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008K8WHHI

Shifty Magic for Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shifty-magic-judy-teel/1115409891?ean=2940016703961

Shifty Magic for Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00CXQ7EOE

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Cover Reveal: Chasing the Star Garden, by Melanie Karsak

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Chasing the Star Garden
The Airship Racing Chronicles

An opium-addicted beauty.

An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.

An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.

Melanie Karsak’s Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a novel best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.

It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.

Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

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Chapter 1

I was going to lose-again. I gripped the brass handles on the wheel and turned the airship sharply port. The tiller vibrated in protest making the wheel shake and my wrist bones ache. Bracing my knees against the spokes, I tore off my brown leather gloves to get a better feel. The metal handgrips were smooth and cold. My fingers tingled from the chill.

“Easy,” I whispered to the Stargazer. I looked up from my position at the wheelstand, past the ropes, burner basket, and balloon, toward the clouds. They were drifting slowly left in a periwinkle blue sky. There’d be an updraft as we passed over the green-brown waters of the canal near Buckingham House. I locked the wheel and jumped from the wheelstand onto the deck of the gondola and looked over the rail. The canal waters were a hundred feet away. I ran back to the wheel and steadied the ship. If I caught the updraft, it would propel me up and forward and give me an edge.

“Cutter caught it, Lily,” Jessup yelled down from the burner basket below the balloon opening. “Up he goes,” he added, looking out through his spyglass. The gold polish on the spyglass reflected the fire from the burner.

“Dammit!” I snapped down my binocular lense. I saw Hank Cutter’s red-and-white striped balloon rise upward. At the top, he pitched forward with great momentum, catching a horizontal wind. I could just make out Cutter at the wheel. His blond hair blew wildly around him. He turned and waved to me. Wanker.

I was not as lucky. Just as the bow of the Stargazer reached the water, a stray wind came in and blew us leeward. The balloon jiggled violently in the turbulent air. I missed the air pocket altogether.

“No! No, no, no!” I cursed and steadied the ship. I had chased Cutter from Edinburgh across the Scottish and English countryside. He had been off his game all day. I’d had him by half a mile the entire race. With the bottom feeders lingering somewhere in the distance behind us, I’d thought the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix would be mine. That was until St. Albans, where Cutter caught a random breeze that pushed him slightly in front of me. Cutter had a knack for catching favorable winds; it was not a talent I shared.

“We’re coming up on Westminster,” Jessup yelled down from the basket. “Lily, drop altitude. Cutter is too high. Come in low and fast, and you might overtake him.”

The airship towers sat at the pier near the Palace of Westminster along the Thames. A carnival atmosphere had overtaken the city as it always does on race day. Colorful tents were set up everywhere. Vendors hawked their wares to excited Londoners and international visitors. I could hear the merchants barking from their tents even from this far above. I fancied I could smell roasted peanuts in the wind.

I jumped down from the wheelstand, ran across the deck, and pulled the valve cord, opening the flap at the top of the balloon. Hot air released with a hiss. I kept one eye on the balloon and another eye on Tinkers’ Tower. At this time of day, the heat coming off of the Palace of Westminster and Tinkers’ Tower would give us a bump. I looked up. Cutter had started preparing his descent. It would be close.

I ran back to the wheel.

“Angus, I need more speed,” I yelled down to the gear galley, rapping on the wooden hatch that led to the rods, belts, and propeller parts below.
Angus slapped open the hatch and stuck out his bald head. His face was covered in grease, and his blue-lense monocle glimmered in the sunlight. He looked up at the clouds and back at me.

“Let’s giddyup,” I called to him.

“You trying the Tower sling?” he yelled back.

“You got it.”

He laughed wildly. “That’s my lassie,” he yelled and dropped back down, pulling the wood hatch closed with a clap. I heard the gears grind, and the propeller, which had been turning nice and steady, began to hum loudly. The ship pitched forward. Within moments, we were coming up on Tinkers’ Tower. The airship towers were just a stone’s throw away.

I aimed the ship directly toward Tinkers’ Tower. Just as the bowsprit neared the clock, I yanked the wheel. The warm air caught us.

“Whoa!” Jessup yelled as the balloon moved within arm’s length of the tower.

The sound of “Ohhs!” echoed from the crowd below.

A mix of warm air and propulsion gave us some go, and seconds later we were slingshotting around Tinkers’ Tower toward the airship platforms. Gliding in on warm air and momentum, we flew fast and low.

Cutter had kept it high, but now he was dropping like a stone toward his own tower. Damned American. I didn’t blame him; I would have used the same move. His balloon was releasing so much air that I wondered if he would be able to slow down in time, not that I would have minded seeing him smash to the ground in a million pieces.

“It’s going to be close,” Jessup yelled as he adjusted the heat pan.

I guided the helm. The Stargazer was temperamental, but we understood one another. A shake of the wheel warned me I was pushing too hard. “Almost there,” I whispered to the ship.

The Grand Prix Marshalls were standing on the platform. Cutter and I had the end towers. I was going to make it.

“Cut propulsion,” I yelled toward the gear galley. On the floor near the wheelstand, a rope led to a bell in the galley. I rang it twice. The propeller switched off.

A soft, sweet wind blew in from the port side. It ruffled my hair around my shoulders. I closed my eyes and turned the wheel slightly starboard, guiding the ship in. Moments later, I heard a jubilant cheer erupt from the American side and an explosion from the firework cannon signaling the winner had been declared. My eyes popped open. I tore off my goggles and looked starboard. Cutter’s balloon was docked. I threw the goggles onto the deck and set my forehead against the wheel.

The Stargazer settled into her dock. Jessup set the balloon on hover and, grabbing a rope, swung down to the deck. He then threw the lead lines and anchors onto the platform. The beautifully dressed crowd, gentlemen in suits and top hats and fancy ladies in a rainbow of satin gowns carrying parasols, rushed toward the American end of the platform to congratulate the winner.

I was, once again, a national disgrace. Lily the loser. Lily second place. Perhaps I would never be anything more than a ferrywoman, a cheap air jockey.

“Good job, Lily. Second place!” Jessup said joining me. He patted me on the shoulder.

I sighed deeply and unbuttoned my vest. The tension had me sweating; I could feel it dripping down from my neck, between my breasts, into my corset.

“You did great,” I told Jessup. “Sorry I let you down.”

“Ah, Lily,” he sighed.

Angus emerged from below wiping sweat from his head with a greasy rag. He pulled off his monocle. He frowned toward the American side. “Well, we beat the French,” he said with a shrug and kissed me on the cheek, smearing grease on me.

“Good job, Angus. Thank you,” I said, taking him by the chin and giving him a little shake as I wrinkled my nose and smiled at him.
Angus laughed and dropped his arm around Jessup’s shoulders. They grinned happily at one another.

“You stink, brother,” Jessup told him.

“It’s a wee bit toasty down there. Besides, I pedaled this ship across the entire fucking country while you were up here looking at the birds. That, my friend, is the smell of success.”

I laughed.

“You pedaled the ship?” Jessup asked mockingly. “Like Lil and I were just up here playing cards? If I didn’t keep the balloon aloft, your ass would be kissing the ground.”

“Now wait a minute. Are you saying your job is more important that mine?” Angus retorted.

I could see where this was going. “Gents.”

“More important? Now why would I say that? Just because I’m the one . . .” Jessup started and then his mouth ran.

“Gents.”

“ . . . and another thing . . .” Jessup went on.

“Gentlemen! Our audience awaits,” I said cutting them both off, motioning to the well-shod crowd who waited for us on the loading platform outside the Stargazer.

I grinned at my crew. “Come on. Let’s go.”

I patted the rail of the Stargazer. “Thanks,” I whispered to her, and we exited onto the platform.

A reporter from the London Times and several race officials stood waiting for me.

“Well done, Lily! Well done!” the British race official congratulated me with a pat on the back. “Second place! King George will be so proud. One of these days you’ll have it, by God.”

I was pretty sure that the last thing I needed was the attention of George IV, the extravagant, unpopular lush. But I bit my tongue and smiled politely.

“Lily, how did Cutter beat you? You led the entire race,” the reporter asked. She was a round woman wearing a very thick black lace collar that looked like it was choking her. Her heavy purple walking dress looked hot under the late afternoon summer sun, and the brim of her black satin cap barely shaded her nose. I noticed, however, that she had a small clockwork fan pin attached to her chest. The fan wagged cool air toward her face.

I pulled off my cap, mopped my forehead, and thought about the question. “Luck,” I replied.

“Lily, that was some move around Tinkers’ Tower. How did you learn to do that?” another reporter asked.

“My father,” I lied.

“Make way, make way,” one of the race officials called, ushering a Marshall forward.

The Marshall looked like someone who lingered an hour too long at supper. The gold buttons on his satin, marigold colored vest would take an eye out if they popped. His overly tall top hat was adorned with a ring of flowers that matched his striking orange colored dress coat.

“Miss Stargazer, congratulations,” he said, shaking my hand. “The Spanish airship is coming in now. Will you please join Mr. Cutter at the winners’ podium?” he asked politely as he guided me forward by the hand.

From below there was a commotion. A man dressed in an unusual costume rushed up the stairs. The London constables, a full squadron of the Bow Street Runners, chased him. When he got to the loading platform, the man pushed through a crowd of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, many of whom were gentry. It was then I could see he was dressed as a harlequin. He wore the traditional red and black checked outfit and a black mask. He scanned the towers until he caught sight of me. He jumped, landing on the tower railing, and ran toward me. A woman in the crowd screamed. Moments later the constables appeared on the platform. The race Marshalls pointed toward the harlequin who was making a beeline for me.

I let go of the Marshall’s hand and stepped back toward the ship.

“Lily,” Jessup warned, moving protectively toward me.

Angus reached over the deck of the Stargazer and grabbed a very large wrench.

Was it an assassin? Christ, would someone murder me for winning second place? I turned and ran toward the Stargazer. A moment later, the harlequin flipped from the rail, grabbed one of the Stargazer’s ropes, and swinging over the others, landed on the platform directly in front of me. Any second now, I would be dead.

He panted and muttered “Lily?” from behind the mask.

“Stop that man! Stop him!” a constable yelled.

“Get out of my way!” Angus roared at the crowd that had thronged in between us.

The masked man grabbed me, tugged on the front of my trousers, and leaned into my ear. The long nose of the mask tickled the side of my face. “Go to Venice,” he whispered as he stuffed something down the front of my pants.

“We got you now,” a constable said, grabbing him, raising his club.

The man shook him off, took two steps backward, and with a jump, leapt off the tower.

Several people in the crowd screamed.

I rushed to the side of the tower to see the harlequin lying at its base. His body was twisted, and his arms and legs bent oddly, contorted into three distinct points. Blood began pooling around him.

“Miss Stargazer, are you all right?” a constable asked.

“A man just killed himself in front of me. No, I am not all right.”

“I mean, are you harmed? Did he hurt you?”

I shook my head and looked down at the mangled body which lay in the shape of a three-sided triskelion. It was the same symbol that was painted on the balloon of the Stargazer.

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About the Author

Melanie Karsak Author Pic by Orange Moon Studios

Melanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there was an abysmal lack of entertainment, so she turned to reading and hiking. Apparently, rambling around the woods with a head full of fantasy worlds and characters will inspire you to become an author. Be warned. Melanie wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, the author now resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Melanie is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

Blog: http://www.melaniekarsak.blogspot.com

Twitter: twitter.com/MelanieKarsak

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieKarsak

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/melaniekarsak/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6539577.Melanie_Karsak

Release Event: Ninety Eight by Shannon Mayer

NinetyEight_ebook

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Release: October 17, 2013

New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance

Speed Limits

Lottery Tickets

Elevator Buttons
Numbers are everywhere—they play such a vital role in our everyday lives. But what would happen if we measured love with equations just as we do our morning cup of coffee? My nana had many recipes in her cupboards, but it was her calculations for love that she insisted I live my life by; and I’ve followed her rules all these years.

One Animal

One Moment

One Critical Impact

That’s all it took for the numbers to start flying in a jumbled mess through my brain as I stared into the violet eyes that would forever make me question my choices. In a split second, the possibilities and reality of true love are revealed and I’m questioning all I’ve ever known.

A Tree

White Fences

Stolen Moments

I can’t ignore the storm brewing around—and within—me. Everything I am is confronted by these new numbers, and all they represent. My past, present and future will all be determined by the gambles I make right here, right now. Again, it’s all about the numbers.

And what I’m learning is, one plus one doesn’t always equal two and sometimes three times isn’t always the charm.

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About the Author

Shannon Mayer lives in the southwestern tip of Canada with her husband, dog, cats, horse, and cows. When not writing she spends her time staring at immense amounts of rain, herding old people (similar to herding cats) and attempting to stay out of trouble. Especially that last is difficult for her.

She is the author of the The Nevermore Trilogy; a romantic suspense series, The Rylee Adamson Novels; a paranormal urban fantasy romance series, A Celtic Legacy; an urban fantasy romance series and High Risk Love; the first new adult romance novel in The Risk Series. Her newest romance, Ninety Eight; a contemporary new adult romance, is scheduled for release in October of 2013.

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Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Character Interview

Brielle

I work with Dr. Winston, he’s a crotchety old veterinarian who seems to tolerate me better than anyone. I love my job, I work with horses every day, and even though it can be dangerous, I can’t really see myself doing anything else. I know that my life looks boring from the outside, that I look like a ‘beige’ kind of girl. But that isn’t an accident. This is what I’ve been aiming for as long as I can remember. A life of safety, security and predictability.

I know that stepping outside the box only gets you hurt, that taking chances is what brings ruin and pain into your life. I know this . . . . yet with one encounter my whole world turned inside out.

All the rules flew out the window and I could no longer see the lines of black and white they faded into a smoky grey that swallowed me whole.
I want to shake myself, point out that the path I’m taking was exactly what I’d been warned about, that my heart will be broken into a thousand tiny pieces with no chance of putting it back together . . . yet I can’t seem to stay away from him . . . I can’t seem to breathe without him at my side.
That is what scares me the most. How much he completes me, how he pulls me out of my world of ‘beige’ and the world around me explodes in a kaleidoscope of colors I’d never seen before. Feelings I’ve never experienced.

And a love I never even dared dream of.

But only if I dare to step outside the rules, if I dare to face my fears and reach for the one thing I want more than anything else.

Him.

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AToMRTours_mdm

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