Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Destroyed by Krys Fenner

Title: Destroyed
Author: Krys Fenner
Series: Dark Road #1
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Young Adult
Release Date: October 17, 2014

***Destroyed is on sale through 5/15/15 and a portion of the
proceeds is be donated to Women's Center of Jacksonville***
Bella has lived a rather boring life, but that all quickly changes. A new position in school forces her to take charge. A new boyfriend (her first), Jeremiah, hands her a confidence she has never known before. A new role in her church’s Fall Production makes her a leader. But that all gets destroyed when an attack by her father’s enemy turns her into the center of attention. Bella believes things couldn’t get worse, but they do. Can she survive the road of destruction and emerge stronger? Or has all that she gained been destroyed forever?

1. What is the biggest influence/interest that brought you to this genre?
My life experiences. I went through so much growing up, not just as a child, but as a teenager too. And those things influenced the path I chose and the things I did. All I can imagine doing now is finding a way to share those horrible events and using them to help others.

2. When writing a book, what is your favorite part of the creative process(outline, plot, character names, editing, etc)?
I would have to say it’s a combination. I don’t believe any writer cares too much for editing because of its tedious nature. However, my favorite part is when I come across something that isn’t working, but I know has to happen and somewhere in my brain an explosion happens. And suddenly I know exactly what I need to do for the everything to flow. I literally get so excited that sometimes I’m actually jumping out of my seat, just so I can do a happy dance.

3. When reading a book, what genre do you find most interesting/intriguing?
Mysteries, especially a well written mystery. I love being in the mind of the one solving the mystery, but also trying to figure out the bits and pieces of the puzzle and how they all fit together so the issue gets resolved. Getting to the end result without everyone figuring it out ahead of time, that intrigues me the most.

4. If you could co-author with any author, past or present, who would you choose?
This is a really hard question. There are so many authors I would love to co-author with, but if I had to pick just one, I would have to say Colleen Hoover. It wasn't just her books that encouraged me to tell the stories in my head, it was the author herself.

5. Have you always wanted to write or did it come to you "later in life"?
Definitely later in life. I've had a huge imagination since I was a kid. I love making up characters, creating histories, and telling their stories, but I never believed I could do anything with it until about six years ago. In high school I'd written one story that I was extremely proud of and a few poems in college. I'd even fiddled a little bit with writing Destroyed, but I hadn't gotten very far. Then a friend of mine found the first couple of chapters and insisted I write more. They helped me rediscover my passion. I kept at it until I had a fully developed manuscript that has become more than I could've ever dreamed in the past year.

Author Bio:
At the age of 16, Krys Fenner fell in love with Psychology and Creative Writing. At that time she wrote her first short story dealing with sexual abuse and forgiveness. Psychological issues in her family filled her with the desire to help others using her own experiences. So in 2004, she earned an Associate of Arts in Psychology. And while her sister is the one with dreams of becoming a Psychologist, Krys Fenner returned to Creative Writing. She is currently working on a Bachelor of Arts and plans to continue on to a Masters degree, where she can major in her first love (Creative Writing)  and minor in her second (Psychology).


***Destroyed is on sale through 5/15/15 and a portion of the
proceeds is be donated to Women's Center of Jacksonville***

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The Violet Hour by Andrea L Wells

Title: The Violet Hour
Author: Andrea L Wells
Series: A Violet Hour #1
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult
Release Date: May 11, 2015
Still shocked over her mother’s mysterious death, California socialite Logan Keller is handed a one-way ticket to her long lost roots in Wyoming where love, deceit and danger await. Though she could forget everything staring into Luke Callahan’s eyes, Logan is quickly thrust into a fight for survival.  Taking fate into her own hands, she begins unraveling the dangerous deceptions that abound at every turn. Her father is keeping secrets and Luke is keeping more. But Logan is keeping the biggest secret of them all.

The Violet Hour is a page-turning captivating twist of young romance and the supernatural.

     I sat up and pulled my knees in close to my chest.  Electricity flared in the air as Luke inhaled.
     “You know, Logan, you’re not who I expected you to be,” he said, taking a long thought-filled pause.  “I thought the next twelve months were going to be hell living with a California socialite, but you’re pretty amazing.  I guess I owe you an apology.”
     “So, it’s a good thing that I’m nothing like you expected?” I asked.
     “It’s a really, really good thing.”
     As I started to smile back he craned his neck to look away from me.  His eyes focused.  Something black flashed across the road but I was more scared by Luke’s reaction.  The warmth had vanished from Luke in a heartbeat.  The object stopped moving toward us when it got to an opening between the trees.  Even though I could feel Luke’s concern, I leaned forward toward the window, curious.  It was a wolf – a really big wolf, staring directly at us with bright green eyes.  It was close enough I could see quick breaths escape into the crisp rain-drenched air.  I was startled when the engine roared to life.  Luke threw the car into reverse, and I nearly slammed into the dash as the sound of gravel scattered everywhere.  He quickly jockeyed around and pulled back onto the road heading home.  I kept my eyes on the wolf until he was no longer in sight.
     “Was that a wolf?” I asked.  Everything happened so quickly, I had to be sure.
     “Yes,” he spit.
     “I’ve never seen a wolf before – that thing was huge.”
     Luke immediately turned to look at me with an expression that I couldn’t begin to read.
     “What’s going on?” I pressed, puzzled.
     When he looked toward the road and didn’t answer, I knew my question needed to be more specific to get results.
     “Why are you freaking out?  It was just a wolf.”  I was worried.  He had gone from warm and comforting to moody and distant over such a small thing and I second-guessed how quickly I had fallen for him.
     “Because I need to get you home, it’s getting late,” he muttered, failing to control his tone.
     “That doesn’t make any sense, Luke.  I have no curfew and you flaked as soon as you saw the wolf.”
     “Wolves are dangerous.”
     “We were in the car,” I countered.
     “Doesn’t matter.”

Author Bio:
The Violet Hour Series has been begging to escape Andrea’s subconscious for more than five years.  Focusing on a wonderful career, handsome husband and two beautiful children by day, she began feverishly penning the series by night.  Now a full-time writer, Andrea debuts The Violet Hour.



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Liberty by Kim Iversen Headlee

Title:  Liberty, second edition 
Author:  Kim Iverson Headlee 
Genre:  Historical Romance 
Release Date: December 16, 2014
They hailed her “Liberty,” but she was free only to obey—or die.

Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium’s arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.

Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome’s noblewomen.

When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.

FINGERS CRAMPING AND shoulders aching from having wielded the pitchfork all day, Rhyddes ferch Rudd tossed another load of hay onto the wagon. Sweat trickled down her back, making the lash marks sting. Marks inflicted by her father, Rudd, the day before because eighteen summers of anguish had goaded her into speaking her mind.

Physical pain couldn’t compare with the ache wringing her heart.

She slid a glance toward the author of her mood. He stood a few paces away, leaning upon his pitchfork’s handle in the loaded wagon’s shade to escape the July heat as he conversed with her oldest brother, Eoghan. She couldn’t discern their words, but their camaraderie spoke volumes her envy didn’t want to hear.

Her father’s gaze met hers, and he lowered his eyebrows. “Back to work, Rhyddes!” On Rudd’s lips, her name sounded like an insult.

In a sense, it was.

Her name in the Celtic tongue meant “freedom,” but the horse hitched to the hay wagon enjoyed more freedom than she did. Her tribe, the Votadini, had been conquered by the thieving Romans, who demanded provisions for their troops, fodder for their mounts, women for their beds, and coin to fill the purses of every Roman who wasn’t a soldier.

If those conditions weren’t bad enough, for all the kindness her father had demonstrated during her first two decades, Rhyddes may as well have been born a slave.

She scooped up more hay. Resentment-fired anger sent wisps flying everywhere, much of it sailing over the wagon rather than landing upon it.

“Hey, mind what you’re doing!”

Owen, her closest brother in age and in spirit, emerged from the wagon’s far side, hay prickling his hair and tunic like a porcupine. Rhyddes couldn’t suppress her laugh. “’Tis an improvement. Just wait till the village lasses see you.”

“Village lasses, hah!” Sporting a wicked grin, Owen snatched up a golden fistful, flung it at her, and dived for her legs.

They landed in the fragrant hay and began vying for the upper hand, cackling like a pair of witless hens. When Owen thought he’d prevailed, Rhyddes twisted and rolled from underneath him. Her fresh welts stung, but she refused to let that deter her. He lost his balance and fell backward. She pounced, planting a knee on his chest and pinning his wrists to the ground over his head.

Victory’s sweetness lasted but a moment. Fingers dug into her shoulders, and she felt herself hauled to her feet and spun around. Owen’s face contorted to chagrin as he scrambled up.

“Didn’t get enough of the lash yestermorn, eh, girl?” Rudd, his broad hands clamped around her upper arms, gave her a teeth-rattling shake.

When she didn’t respond, he released her and rounded on Owen. “As for you—”

“Da, please, no!” Rhyddes stopped herself. Well she knew the futility of pleading with Rudd. Still, for Owen’s sake, she had to try. Her father’s scowl dared her to continue. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “’Twas not Owen’s fault. I—” Sweat freshened the sting on her back, and she winced. “The fault is naught but mine.”

“Aye, that I can well believe.” Rudd grasped each sibling by an arm and strode across the hayfield toward the family’s lodge. “Owen can watch you take his lashes as well as yours. We’ll see if that won’t mend his ways.” The thin linen of her ankle-length tunic failed to shield her from his fingers, which had to be leaving bruises. Rhyddes gritted her teeth. Rudd seemed disappointed. “I doubt anything in this world or the next will make you mend yours.”

“You don’t want me to change. You’d lose your excuse to beat me.” Sheer impertinence, she knew, but she no longer cared.

“I need no excuses, girl.”

The back of his hand collided with her cheek. Pain splintered into a thousand needles across her face. She reeled and dropped to her hands and knees, her hair obscuring her vision in a copper cascade. Hay pricked her palms. Owen would have helped her rise, but their father restrained him. Owen blistered the ground with his glare, not daring to direct it at Rudd for fear of earning the same punishment.

Not that Rhyddes could blame him.

Rudd yanked her up, cocked a fist… and froze. “Raiders!”

Rhyddes whirled about. Picts were charging from the north to converge upon their settlement, the battle cries growing louder under the merciless afternoon sun. One of the storage buildings had already been set ablaze, its roof thatch marring the sky with thick black smoke.

Rudd shed his shock and sprinted for the living compound, calling his children by name to help him defend their home: Eoghan, Ian, Bloeddwyn, Arden, Dinas, Gwydion, Owen.

Every child except Rhyddes.

She ran to the wagon, unhitched the horse, found her pitchfork, scrambled onto the animal’s back, and kicked him into a jolting canter. The stench of smoke strengthened with each stride. Her mount pinned back his ears and wrestled her for control of the bit, but she bent the frightened horse to her will. She understood how he felt.

As they loped past the cow byre, a Pict leaped at them, knocking Rhyddes from the horse’s back. The ground jarred the pitchfork from her grasp. The horse galloped toward the pastures as Rhyddes fumbled for her dagger. Although her brothers had taught her how to wield it in a fight, until now she’d used it only to ease dying animals from this world.

But the accursed blade wouldn’t come free of the hilt.

Sword aloft, the Pict closed on her.

Time distorted, assaulting Rhyddes with her attacker’s every detail: lime-spiked hair, weird blue symbols smothering the face and arms, long sharp sword, ebony leather boots and leggings, breastplate tooled to fit female curves . . .


The warrior-woman’s sword began its descent.

From the corner of her eye Rhyddes saw her pitchfork. Grunting, she rolled toward it, praying to avoid her attacker’s blow.

Her left arm stung where the sword grazed it, but she snagged her pitchfork and scrambled to her feet. Unexpected eagerness flooded her veins.

As the Pict freed her weapon from where it had embedded in the ground, Rhyddes aimed the pitchfork and lunged. The tines hooked the warrior-woman’s sword, and Rhyddes twisted with all her strength. The Pict yelped as the sword ripped from her hand to go flying over the sty’s fence. Squealing in alarm, the sow lumbered for cover, trying to wedge her bulk under the trough.

With a savage scream, the warrior-woman whipped out a dagger and charged. Rhyddes reversed the pitchfork and jammed its butt into the Pict’s gut, under the breastplate’s bottom edge, robbing her of breath. She reversed it again and caught the raider under the chin with the pitchfork’s tines. As the woman staggered backward, flailing her arms and flashing the red punctures that marred her white neck, Rhyddes struck hard and knocked her down.

The warrior-woman looked heavier by at least two stone, but Rhyddes pinned her chest with her knee. She dropped the pitchfork and grasped her dagger, yanking it free. Grabbing a fistful of limed hair, she wrestled the woman’s head to one side to expose her neck.

The Pict bucked and twisted, trying to break Rhyddes’s grip. ’Twas not much different than wrestling a fever-mad calf.

Rhyddes’s deft slice ended the threat.

Blood spurted from the woman’s neck in sickening pulses.

Rhyddes stood, panting, her stomach churning with the magnitude of what she’d done. ’Twas no suffering animal she’d killed—and it could have been her lying there, pumping her lifeblood into the mud.

Bile seared her throat, making her gag. Pain lanced her stomach. Bent double, she retched out the remains of her morning meal, spattering the corpse.

After spitting out the last bitter mouthful and wiping her lips with the back of her hand, she drew a deep breath and straightened. As she turned a slow circle, her senses taking in the sights and sounds and stench of the devastation surrounding her, she wished she had not prevailed.

The news grew worse as she sprinted toward the lodge.

Of her seven brothers, the Picts had left Ian and Gwydion dead, her father and Owen wounded, the lodge and three outbuildings torched. She ran a fingertip over the crusted blood of her scratch, and she couldn’t suppress a surge of guilt.

Mayhap, she thought through the blinding tears as she ran to help what was left of her family, ’twould have been better had she died in the Pict’s stead.

The surviving raiders were galloping toward the tree line with half the cattle. The remaining stock lay stiffening in the fields, already attracting carrion birds.

Three days later, the disaster attracted scavengers of an altogether different sort.

I am Rhyddes ferch Rudd, which in your tongue means Freedom daughter of Red. The blood of ancient Celtic warriors flows in my veins, though I am a farmer's daughter by the circumstance of my birth. My life spans much of the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, one of a very few men ever to claim that title who did not abuse his power for personal gain—but I care not who rules and who dies in this gods-cursed empire.

More than anything—even more than my freedom—I yearn to be my lover Aquila’s equal. As a foreign slave in an empire where citizenship stands paramount, where an arena fighter such as I can only be considered the equal of other gladiators, actors, undertakers, and whores, this goal seems impossibly remote. Although Aquila is the son of a powerful Roman, he has declared that he would renounce his aristocratic status, wealth, and power for me, but I cannot in good conscience allow him to destroy himself on my account.

And yet the gods have granted the impossible to other mortals. I pray that I am worthy to receive such a boon from them, for surely divine assistance is the only way for Aquila and I to bridge the vast social chasm that separates us from enjoying a future together.

Top 10 - Historical Films/Television Series
Wow, this proved tougher than I thought it would be at first glance! Since Hollywood is notorious for getting details wrong, even when there is no reason to, as in the motivational football film Remember the Titans, I have defined "historical" to exclude "historically accurate"—with two notable exceptions. All the others made this list primarily for their entertainment value.

1. Tora! Tora! Tora! (20th Century Fox, 1970; the exception): a movie about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor filmed very much like a docudrama and just about as accurate as the film industry ever gets.

2. Nicholas and Alexandra (Columbia Pictures, 1971; the other exception) is adapted from the Pulitzer-winning biography of the same title by Robert K. Massie. It lavishly chronicles the final years of Tsar Nicholas II (Michael Jayston) and his wife Alix of Hesse (Janet Susman), the German noblewoman and descendent of Queen Victoria who was urged to take the more “acceptable” name of Alexandra upon her marriage.

3. The Greatest Story Ever Told (United Artists, 1965) gets extra points for being quite faithful to the Gospels, and for its vast glittering cast, headed by Max Von Sydow as Jesus.

4. Anne of the Thousand Days (Universal, 1969) starring Geneviève Bujold in the title role opposite Richard Burton as King Henry VIII.

5. The Other Boleyn Girl (Columbia Pictures, 2008) starring Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, and Eric Bana as Henry VIII, gets points for uniqueness…which is probably best described as sheer fiction, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

6. Cleopatra (20th Century Fox, 1963) starring Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Richard Burton as Marc Antony, and Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar.

7. The Agony and the Ecstasy (20th Century Fox, 1965) describes the painting of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and stars Charlton Heston as Michaelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II.

8. Arthur of the Britons (HTV, 1972-1973, 24 episodes), a British TV series that depicts a Celtic Arthur striving to make peace with his Saxon enemies in a convincing Dark Age (or, these days, “Early Medieval”) setting.

9. The Legend of King Arthur (BBC, 1979; 7 episodes), another well done Dark Age/Early Medieval setting for the Arthurian Legends, though its lamentably short storyline leans heavily upon episodes found in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.

10. Gladiator (Dreamworks, 2000) starring Russell Crowe in the title role. Like The Other Boleyn Girl, this movie contains far more fiction than fact—for instance, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) never murdered his father Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) and even ruled jointly with him for a few years—though Gladiator’s historical setting is quite convincing, and Hans Zimmer’s music is superb.

Thank you for this opportunity to share some of my favorites with your readers today!

Author Bio:
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendent of twentieth-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the seventh-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press.



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Release Day Blitz: Reckless by Franca Storm

Title: Reckless
Author: Franca Storm
Series: Black Thorns #1
Genre: MC Romance, Suspense
Release Date: May 20, 2015
Neil “Ax” Barron walked away from the Black Thorns MC two years ago. Now he’s back as Vice President for one reason: to take out the President of ruthless rival club, the Devil’s Mavericks. A sadistic, soulless man who is also his father. Ax has his orders to carry out his mission covertly so Black Thorns isn't thrust into open war. But when he meets his contact—a ball-busting, smart-mouthed woman—he quickly realizes he’s got his work cut out for him.

Roxana James hates bikers and a relationship is the last thing she wants. Settling down is her worst nightmare. No man will tame her! She’s content on her own and she’s done well for herself. Until a rough, dirty-talking biker turns her world upside down. He challenges everything she’s ever known.
Together they break down one another’s walls. Two opposites really do attract. The fiery connection between them quickly evolves into much more, despite resistance from them both.

But with so many forces aligned against them and Rox determined not to become part of Ax’s club life, is there really a place for their love? Or will the sacrifices needed for them to be together, come at too high a price?

Author Bio:
Franca was born in Surrey, England and currently lives in Niagara Falls, Canada with her husband and their Labrador, Rocky.

She is a long-time lover of erotica and romance novels, especially those with sexy-as-sin alpha males. She decided to try her hand at writing her own and writing romance is now her obsession and the perfect way to put her dirty mind to good use!

Her writing spans many different sub-genres of romance: contemporary, biker romance, paranormal romance, new adult, romantic erotica and romance suspense. She’s got a ton of stories to tell and many more works up her sleeve.

She loves hearing from her readers, so please feel free to stop by and visit her at the links below.

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Release Day Blitz: The Duelist's Seduction by Lauren Smith

Title: The Duelist's Seduction
Author: Lauren Smith
Series: Seduction #1
Genre: Historical Regency Romance
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Cover Designer: Fiona Jayde
Helen Banks is going to die. When her twin brother gambles away their fortune, she must save his life and take his place in a duel to satisfy the honor of a man her brother couldn’t pay. Disguised as her brother, Helen faces the one man she’s admired from afar, a widower with a dark past and eyes that scorch her very soul.

Since Gareth Fairfax lost his wife, the darkness in his heart continues to grow. Lashing out at anyone who opposes him, Gareth is stunned to face a lovely young woman opposite his dueling pistol. After discovering Helen’s deception, he offers her a choice: become his mistress or her brother dies.

Their devil’s bargain turns into a slow, sweet, intoxicating seduction. With each passing hour, Helen uncovers Gareth’s secret heartbreak and yet she can’t help but fall for the man who has ruined her. With Helen in his arms, Gareth wonders if he might yet be saved. All it takes is one passionate embrace, a kiss from the depths of his soul and a night of wild abandon.

The predawn sky shone brightly with flickering stars as Helen Banks readied herself for the duel. Her hair was coiled and pinned tightly against her head, concealing its thick mass and giving her a boyish look—a disguise she prayed would last. Checking the black mask covering her face, she resumed walking. She took a deep, steadying breath as she adjusted her breeches and the black coat she’d pinched from her brother’s wardrobe.

The open field near the spa city of Bath was quiet. Two coaches waited in the distance along the roadside, and ahead of her, two men waited, watching her approach.  Not even a breeze dared rustle the knee-high grass as Helen walked up to her enemy and his second. Both men also wore masks to conceal their identities should someone witness the illegal duel. The paling skies played with the retreating shadows of night, lending a melancholy air to the moment she stopped inches from the men.

“You are late, Mr. Banks,” the taller of the two men announced coldly.

With his broad shoulders and muscular body, Gareth Fairfax cut an imposing figure. He seemed perpetually tense, as though ready to strike out at anyone who might offend him. Dark hair framed his chiseled features, and the eyes that glowered from between the spaces of his mask were a fathomless blue. They were the sort of eyes a woman lost herself in, like gazing into a dark pool of water that seemed to sink endlessly, drawing her in until she can’t find her way back to the surface. She recognized the sensual, full lips, now thinned by anger, and the gleam of his eyes on her. She was never more thankful that the early morning’s pale light did not expose her as being a woman.

Helen hated knowing that even now, faced with possible death at his hands, she still desired him. Having seen him from afar over the past few months, she’d been enchanted. Gareth—for that was the way she’d dreamt about him, not as Mr. Fairfax—had a way about him, an animal magnetism that drew her in, with his smoky gaze and relaxed movements. Sin personified—she’d once heard a woman describe him thus at a dance and it was true. Even angels would be tempted to stray to hell for one glance, one lingering, seductive look. He smiled so rarely, she’d glimpsed it but twice in the months she’d seen him. Both times it had fairly knocked her off her feet with the sheer force of its power.

He’d never noticed her at the social engagements. She had stood close to the wall, quiet and lost in dreams as she watched him through her heavy lashes. Foolish, too, she knew, to look at him and feel such hunger for the things his brooding demeanor promised. He had passed her by on numerous occasions, but his head never turned and his eyes never alighted on her. Even now, as she stood before him, ready to die at his hands, she knew he thought her to be her twin brother, Martin.

If he ever discovered she was a woman, he would be appalled and furious. Especially given that she was only dueling him to save her brother’s life.

She briefly studied her opponent’s second. He was just as tall, his features nearly as striking as Gareth’s.

Helen choked down a shaky breath. “I was waylaid.” She prayed her voice sounded gruff and masculine.

Gareth’s eyes were dark orbs, burning with thinly controlled anger. He shifted restlessly on his feet, his imposing form momentarily revealed by the dark blue coat that contoured to his shape.

“Is this your second?” His growl sent shivers down her spine as his glaze flicked to the squat man in his mid-thirties standing behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, widening her eyes in silent encouragement for her second to come closer.

“I am,” Mr. Rodney Bennett replied and bowed.

“Mr. Banks, I am Mr. Ambrose Worthing,” Gareth’s second announced politely.

Well, finally someone was acting like a gentleman. “Mr. Worthing,” Helen said, making sure to keep her voice low. “Allow me to introduce my second, Mr. Rodney Bennett.”

Bennett passed by Helen, and he and Worthing shook hands. Bennett offered the pistols to Worthing for inspection. Since Gareth and Worthing had not brought the weapons, that duty fell to her as the challenged party. As the two men drew apart from her and Gareth, she tried not to stare at him. He was impossibly handsome, in that dark, mysterious sort of way that a woman simply couldn’t ignore. Like gazing upon a visage of an angry god, all fire and might, ready to burn her to ash with passion.

Her opponent glowered at her. “I suppose I should trust that you’ve not tampered with my pistol?”

His icy tone made her bristle with indignation. “You have my word it shoots fair,” Helen snapped. The nerve of the man to accuse her of cheating!

“Your word? We would not be here if I could trust your word. A man who does not honor his debts may not find it necessary to honor the rules of a duel,” Gareth retorted.

She wanted to scream. Her fists clenched at her sides. Her nails dug painfully into her palms as she struggled to calm down. She wanted to throttle her brother, whose rash and inconsiderate behavior had gotten her into this mess.

Author Bio:
Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. Lauren loves hearing from readers and can be reached through her website.

EMAIL: ldsmith1818@gmail.com


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