Category Archives: In the Spotlight

His mate is a target. Can he save her? XANDER by @ValerieUllmer #DarkAssassins #PNR #romance

XANDER

A Dark Assassins Novel

by Valerie Ullmer

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Half-human, half-shifter.

Xander has secretly yearned for a mate for most of his immortal existence, and yet after three of his friends found exactly what he’s always wanted, he’d come to believe that he’d missed his chance at happiness.

Until he heard her voice.

Frost is a wildlife biologist and tracker and she has been assigned, despite her adamant protests, to lead mercenaries into the mountains of Snowfall, Colorado for the sole purpose of killing immortal shifters.  In order to protect those who have no idea the kind of danger they are in, she agrees.  As she leads the armed men on a wild chase around the snow-covered pines, she could sense that she was running out of time.

Until she heard his voice.

Xander understands exactly who Frost is the moment he hears her thoughts.  With the help of Kane and Gunnar, they eliminate those in her group as they try to keep her safe.  But during the fight, she is hurt and all of his protective instincts flare to life.  As Xander learns more about her, he realizes that Frost might be the key to the creation of the immortals, both vampire and shifter.

But when she becomes a target from those who want to destroy the Dark Company and Xander’s family, how far will he go to save her?

blog available from 2016

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blog excerpt 2016

Xander froze when he heard a feminine voice carry over to him, she sounded closer than she had been even a few moments before.  He should have sensed her coming closer.  But the only question on his mind was why the fuck she was tagging along with a group of mercenaries.  He heard the voice again, a tinny version of her voice, and for a long moment he couldn’t understand the words.  Until she stepped forward.

No, no.  Not that way.  Not that way.

Something warmed his chest as he heard her in his head as clearly as they were speaking aloud.  A familiarity washed over him and he felt connected to this woman in an elemental way.  A feeling a peace settled over him.  He knew this was the first time he’d ever heard her voice.  He was so stunned and happy that he didn’t even question how they were able to mind link.

Can either of you hear the woman’s thoughts?

Woman?  Gunnar sounded confused.

Kane’s reply was quick and clipped.  No.

Hello?

Hello?

Xander tried to get her attention.  Can you hear me?

He held his breath when he heard her distinct gasp, knowing that their mind link worked.  His chest filled with dread at the thought that she gave herself away, until he heard her next words.

“I spotted a grizzly bear in the trees to the west.  Sorry, I startled him and he ran off.”

For long seconds, the men in the clearing stared at the woman before they were ordered to keep searching.

Xander stood close enough that he could see her curves underneath the heavy white parka.  And having the worst timing in the world, Xander felt himself harden.  He took a deep, cleansing breath of sharp mountain air that instantly cooled his overheated body.

Yes, I can hear you.  These men, seven in total, are looking for immortals.  They have been contracted by my boss at U.S. Fish and Wildlife to kill them.  Apparently the immortals are supposed to become animals.  Can you help me without hurting yourself?  They are heavily armed.

Xander was taken completely by surprise.  She didn’t question their connection but instead relayed vital information that he would need.  He could also start to feel her emotions.  She wasn’t scared, just determined.  He could hear her heart beating at a fast rate and her breathing strained from either the hike up the mountain or the tension in the air.  He watched as she subtly shifted her head around as she searched for him, unable to spot him in the trees.

We can help.  I’m going to communicate with my team and we’ll take out the men.  Are you okay with that?

Yes, I know they are paid mercenaries and I’m pissed that they killed a wolf two days ago for no other reason than they wanted to shoot something.

What’s your name?

Frost.

Frost, I’m Xander.  When I tell you to run, run south.  Okay?

Yes, I understand.

Xander relayed the conversation he had with Frost.  We are going to have to kill them, there’s no other way around it.  They couldn’t have a threat looming over them, especially if one escaped and brought in a stronger, more trained group of mercenaries.  Although they could easily defeat any group of fighters, keeping their existence a secret was crucial.  The more humans that knew about them, the bigger the danger it posed.

Working as a team, they closed in on the unsuspecting mercenaries.  At first, they quietly removed those men who were stationed on the outer perimeter, using knives to subdue them, or in Xander’s case, using his bare hands and quickly snapping their necks.  He didn’t want Frost to see blood on him.  The only sound he could hear detect was the grunts of the men who were dispatched.  By the time Gunnar, Kane, and he closed in on their ranks, there were only three mercenaries remaining.

The older man spotted movement in Gunnar’s direction and without hesitation raised his weapon and started firing.  The wolf easily dodged the shots before melting farther into the trees.  Silence descended upon the area as the man searched for Gunnar.

Frost, run south, keep as low as you can and use the trees as cover.

Can he save his mate? XANDER by @ValerieUllmer #PNR #newrelease Click To Tweet

 

blog about the author 2016

Valerie writes paranormal and contemporary romances with strong alpha males and brilliant, beautiful heroines. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her wonderfully supportive husband and their funny and wise black lab. She’s addicted to coffee, crime shows, and reading and writing character driven romances.

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A Conflict Generations in the Making ~ FATE’S MISSION by @Laurel_R_Books #scifi #romance #newrelease

A CONFLICT GENERATIONS IN THE MAKING

It all started with an 8mm film reel. That was the original inspiration for Fate’s Mission. I found some old 8mm film with home movies from my grandparents. Having never seen what was on it, I was curious, but there was a problem. I didn’t have a film projector that would play it. That got me thinking about all the changes in technology over the decades. We’ve seen 16mm, 8-track, vinyl records, cassettes, VHS, and floppy disks fall by the wayside. If you don’t convert formats along the way, it can become nearly impossible to recover what’s on that old film or disks. Now imagine the technological changes heading into the future.

In Fate’s Mission, a disk is uncovered that contains information from one of the founding leaders of Reinn’s religious Order, the Fortunates. This happens right at a time when sensitive political negotiations are going on and a rival Order, the Fatalists, are claiming the historic leader was a fraud. A history buff, Reinn is sent to investigate the disk. Except the disk is so incredibly old that there’s no device available to read it. One has to be built, but several attacks, mysterious ship failures, and a bombing later, it becomes evident that someone doesn’t want Reinn to see that disk. What’s on there? What lengths will some people go to bury the truth?

Fate’s Mission is a sweeping sci-fi romance with multiple subplots revolving around politics, economics, human rights, faith, destiny, and intrigue. And the catalyst is a single historical disk discovered in an old table. Reinn’s mission carries him on an adventure across space and brings him to his destined soul mate, who has an important mission of her own.

FATE’S MISSION

by LAUREL RICHARDS

A love that was fated. A truth that can destroy a man’s faith. And a conflict generations in the making.

When a historical discovery threatens his religious Order, Brother Reinn jin Domarr is sent to investigate. What he finds is a hotbed of political intrigue, assassination attempts, and religious warfare. Someone doesn’t want him to uncover the truth, and he or she is willing to kill to protect a terrible secret. In the midst of danger, he finds his soul mate. Isibel is a woman on a mission to save her people from enslavement, and she has her own enemies. Soon their fates collide, and they face a battle that has been brewing for centuries. Will love and faith be enough to save them?

blog available from 2016

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blog excerpt 2016

This station was huge and so busy it appeared frenetic.

Their party slithered like an outland basilisk through the dense crowd. Traversing a straight line was impossible, as was walking more than three abreast. When they drew closer to what appeared to be the main entryway to the terminal, one voice rose above the cacophony.

“Your journey is not over, brothers and sisters. We have so much farther to go. Paradise is out there waiting for us, a gift from our beloved Goddess. Will you not follow the path?”

The speaker, Reinn was surprised to see, was a boy no older than Niall. He was dressed in two-toned robes of white and saffron and waving his hands in a dramatic fashion. So this, then, was the face of the Fatalist Sect. At least one of them.

Reinn recognized the exact moment the boy noticed their procession. His voice trailed off mid-sentence, and he stared. Underlord Kori and most of his people ignored him completely, although a few turned to sneer.

Far from feeling any kind of hostility, Reinn was struck with sadness. The boy was so young. He was obviously searching for something—some missing piece to his life—and had been convinced that the hunt for a planet that had already been found would fulfill him. This was just the sort of impressionable youth who could be easily twisted to a darker purpose. If the Fatalists were behind the attempted bombing of his temple, had the perpetrator worn such an innocent face?

Reinn wished he had time to talk to the boy and offer a few words of advice. His purpose here, however, went beyond saving one lost soul. He’d have to discuss this with Brother Enq.

In the next instant, sensory overload struck, forcing Reinn to concentrate on his surroundings. If he’d thought the terminal was crowded, then the station proper, when they reached it, was absolutely mobbed. Their presence only added to the press of bodies. It was obvious their arrival wasn’t a secret, and they garnered a great deal of attention.

“I’ve never seen the station like this,” one of the older guards said off to his right.

“How many times have you been here?” Niall had to raise his voice over the hubbub.

Reinn didn’t hear the answer.

Geirr groused beside him. “This is turning into a damn parade.”

Which wasn’t an exaggeration. Security officers formed a loose human barricade, motioning the spectators back to make room. The result was a gauntlet of onlookers—a channel they had to pass through at their own risk.

Playing his part, Reinn adopted a beneficent smile and inclined his head to those who made eye contact. He did not make any more lavish gesture for fear of stirring them up, although several people waved at him in welcome. It was heartening to see that not all of the devout had strayed to the Fatalist Sect.

Next to him, Geirr covered the earpiece clipped to his lobe and scowled in concentration. The device resembled a large crystal stud. It had multiple frequencies so that the security team could speak to each other or to the ship or station as needed.

“Station officers are trying to clear a path to the glide now.” Geirr’s gaze remained alert as he surveyed the crush. “You’d think we were celebrities on tour.”

“We are,” Reinn pointed out. “Few people have seen this many nobles together, let alone a member of the royal house.”

“I was talking about you. The Potentate himself couldn’t generate more excitement. We should have stayed on the ship.”

Reinn didn’t bother arguing. Instead, he took in the faces of the crowd, trying to get a feel for the demographics here. He saw young and old, male and female, and a variety of skin tones—a testament to their mixed heritage. Admittedly, the women caught most of his attention, largely because there were so many of them. He was used to the male majority on Siv and hadn’t expected such a large population of females.

He saw several blondes and brunettes, a rare redhead, and some teenagers with artificial spikes and curls of yellow and green. An older matron had braids of pure white, and next to her was a young woman with mixed tones that reminded him of tortoiseshell, except with more contrast.

The latter made his gaze dip lower, and he had a split second to take in gray eyes and delicate features before his view was blocked by other bodies. There were more and more people—an endless stream pushing and shifting for a better view.

The shot came out of nowhere.

One second Reinn was smiling at the crowd. The next, hot pain lanced through his left side, stealing his breath. Instinct carried him to the floor before his brain could catch up. Geirr was right on top of him.

“Down!” Geirr shouted the warning to the others. His weapon was already in hand. “Where are you hit?”

Reinn fought to overcome the shock and pain enough to speak. It felt like he’d been seared right down to the bone, although the brutal agony was gradually receding.

“Left side,” he answered.

He must have taken the hit directly below his shoulder. His breath locked in his throat as he straightened his left arm, which he held cradled to his chest. What he saw made him feel as if he’d been shot all over again.

Except he hadn’t been. Shot, that is. There was no singed hair or charred flesh—the usual damage of a pulse blast or laser strike. Instead, there were dark veins of gold spreading down his arm, forming an intricate pattern around his bicep, forearm, and wrist all the way to his palm.

Reinn’s widened gaze collided with Geirr’s.

“Blessed Fate.” His friend rasped the words under his breath. “You’re soul-bound.”

 

blog about the author 2016

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Mothers can be heroines, too! #mothersday #romance

I have a mother. I am a mother. And Sunday is a day to celebrate mothers, everything they’ve done for us, and given up for us.

In romance, most heroines are single. Some are separated or divorced. Even fewer are mothers. But mothers can be heroines, too. Here are some snippets from some of my titles where the heroine is a mother…

From Alien Admirer

Sera inhaled, catching the musky scent of sex still heavy in the air. That and the desire-inducing smell of masculinity coming from the man whose chest she lay on. She couldn’t help the smile tugging at her lips. Instead of her fantasies to keep her company, she’d spent the night with her dream come true. Adam. Perfect in every way. She hadn’t expected to find a man who both satisfied her, and treated Melody and Zach so well.

Shit! The kids. What time is it?

Seven a.m. glared at her in bright red letters.

She gasped and shot upright. What have I done? Tossing the covers off, she scrambled out of bed. Melody and Zach would be up soon. They couldn’t find her naked, in bed with a man. With Adam, of all people.

Yanking open her pajama drawer, she pulled out a cotton shirt and shorts set and slipped them on. She gazed at the man who’d rocked her world. Her kids didn’t need to know about him spending the night. They already adored Adam and wanted him around more. If they discovered him there, they’d have him and Sera down the aisle after one night of sex—earthmoving, mind-blowing sex. She couldn’t let them get hurt because of her own desires. Heck, she didn’t even know if the previous night was a one-time thing.

She hurried over to the bed and shook Adam. “Wake up. You’ve got to leave.”

From Bryce

“Mom, what’s going on?” Katrina sat up and pulled away. “Please tell me this is all a bad dream.”

“I wish.” She reached for her daughter’s hands and held them tight. “There is so much I have withheld from you for your own safety. But, to understand what’s going on, you need to know the truth.”

Katrina glanced up at her, her bottom lip quivering. “What about Dad? Will he survive? Will I ever see him again? I know he only visits on my birthdays, but still….”

She cupped her daughter’s cheek. “I’m so sorry, sweetie, but the Erebus killed him. And….” Lindsay swallowed the lump in her throat. Time to reveal the lie. “Quinn is not your biological father.”

Katrina scooted away from her. “No. How could you, Mom?” She didn’t cry or scream, simply shook her head. “How could you keep so much from me? About my life? It’s my eighteenth birthday, and I’m supposed to be considered an adult. But all I want to do is hide, crawl into some dark corner and pretend everything I’ve seen in the last hour never happened. I mean, my dad is dead, and not even my dad. The backyard looks like a roofing company had an accident back there, but I’m not even at home. I’m stuck God knows where with you, an alien. If you’d have told me about any of this beforehand, I could have been prepared for today.”

“No! Nothing can prepare you for an Erebus attack.” Folding her hands in her lap, Lindsay glanced away. She thought she’d done the right thing, protected her daughter from harm and a life on Hemera controlled by backward politics. “When you were young, I thought it was for the best. And as you got older, I wanted to tell you, but there never seemed to be a good time.”

“So, you wait until the mutant tentacle creatures attack our house, when they kill the man I believed to be my father?” Katrina stood and paced in front of a small semi-circular table. “What the hell are we, anyway? What did that guy mean calling you a princess? I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.”

“I’m sorry. I never expected today to happen. I thought I’d left it all behind. Traveled far enough away the Erebus would never come here, that the life I once knew would never catch up with me.” Lindsay let her daughter digest the little bit she’d told her. Besides, nothing she had to say would make the situation better. Instead, she glanced at their surroundings for the first time since arriving. Bryce had sent them to a tiny A-frame house with a loveseat in front of the fireplace, a desk covered in various extraterrestrial electronics—most of which she didn’t understand—and a bathroom and petite bedroom holding nothing but a bed, at the back. A mini fridge sat against the wall in between the two rooms with cupboards above it. A small bit of counter rested on the outside wall near the bathroom, with a sink and built-in oven. In the middle of the minimalist space, a ladder touched the ground, leading up to another modest room. With every surface covered in a thick layer of dust, the owners must not have visited the place in a while. Lindsay had expected to be sent off planet, but, from the logs used as walls and supports for the house, and the 1970s furnishings, she doubted they’d left Earth. How long did she have before Bryce arrived? With the zuranium blade in his possession, she and Katrina would be dead by the time he showed up if an Erebus somehow found them. Yet, she had so much to tell her daughter, and painful memories to dig up.

Katrina stopped pacing and crossed her arms. “So, who is my father? Likely some extraterrestrial based on everything else I’ve learned today.”

Lindsay sucked in a deep breath. Only Lindsay and her parents knew the identity of Katrina’s biological father. They’d sent her away to keep it that way. The Defenders received respect across the galaxy, but she wasn’t supposed to fall in love with one. “Your father is Bryce.”

From Jager (spoiler alert)…

The door to her med room whooshed open, and the lights came on full force. Katrina slowly opened her eyes, trying to adjust to the sudden change in brightness. She saw a figure standing above her, but it took several seconds for him to come into view.

“What’s the matter?” he asked. “I came as soon as I heard.”

She set her hand on Jace’s arm. “You’re back? How did the mission go?”

“It was a success.” His brows knitted. “But that doesn’t matter. What’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t know.” She pressed a button to raise the top half of the bed then wiped the dried tears from her cheeks. “They did a bunch of tests but haven’t told me the results yet.”

“We have them now.” The female Warwa doctor came inside and set her com tab on the counter. “It’s nothing like we suspected.”

Katrina squeezed Jace’s hand. “Great. I caught something from the planet I grew up on, and now I’m going to die.”

The doctor’s eyes widened, a small smile on her lips. “That’s not it at all. You’re perfectly healthy.”

Confused, Katrina glanced back and forth between her friend and the doctor. No, that wasn’t possible. “If I’m healthy, then why am I sick all the time after training?”

The Warwa’s smile grew bigger. “Because you’re pregnant.”

Blood rushed from Katrina’s face, her body feeling heavy in the bed. “No.”

“Yes.” The doctor cast the results of the test from her com tab to the larger screen in the room. “You’re still in the early stages where we can terminate if you choose.”

“No.” Why would she do such a thing? Unless there was some other concern. “There’s nothing wrong with it, is there?”

The doctor shook her head. “No, but if you carry this child, you must take leave from the Defenders. It is Alliance policy to ensure healthy children are born across Alliance territory, especially when at least one parent is a Defender. Or, in this case, both parents.”

Katrina looked up at Jace then to the doctor. “Oh, he’s not the father.”

The doctor patted her arm. “I know. We already know who the father is.”

In some cases, there is no mother in the picture, and children are raised by their fathers, other family members, or guardians.

From Sudden Breakaway

What have I done? Jared yanked Dylan off the top of the fridge, holding him under his arm as the kid tried to wiggle free. “Superman can fly. You can’t. If you jump from that high, you’re going to get hurt.”

Once the boy stopped squirming, Jared set him down and rushed over to his niece, who had decided to scribble on his white cell phone with a marker. “Madison, I know you love everything pink, but my phone does not need a makeover.”

He grabbed the marker and she squealed, escaping under the table and down the hall clutching his phone. His morning had just begun. He couldn’t even take a leak without the kids finding some kind of trouble. Yes, they went to daycare while he worked, but beyond the hours of nine to five, they were all his, and on weekends, he had no pardon. Why on Earth had he thought he could raise two preschoolers on his own?

The doorbell rang.

He glanced down the hall toward the bedrooms, where an ominous silence reigned. With the children quiet, they had to be plotting their next mission to destroy his sanity. Or perhaps they’d already started. Shrugging, he headed for the door, risking a future disaster to see who stood on his porch.

Dylan came charging at him, his dark eyes wide, reminding him of his sister when she was a child. “Someone’s at the door. Who is it, Uncle Jared?”

The boy skidded straight across the slippery linoleum, his body slamming into Jared’s knees.

Jared stumbled back, trying to regain his balance, and grasped the doorknob. The latch clicked open. Losing his footing again, he stumbled to the floor, his nephew landing on top of him. Groaning, he glanced up at the woman standing above him; his former commander’s wife. “Can I help you, Mrs. Collins?”

If you are an author and have a heroine in your story who is a mother, feel free to leave a “mother moment” snippet (under 500 words) from the story with ONE buy link in the comments.

 

This SkyRyder Colonel is one in a million ~ SCAVENGER VANISHES by @Liza0Connor #scifi #romance #sfr

Scavenger Vanishes by Liza O’Connor

How did Marge become a Colonel of the East Coast?

The East Coast SkyRyders are so male dominant that the chances of a female becoming a colonel is about one in a billion, and even if she did make it, all she’d be is bed-fodder for the general and male colonels. That is if she’s pretty and obliging. Otherwise, she’d be dead.

So how did Marge get in?

1) She’s a bombshell and believes men are all the same (alpha male assholes), so she’ll do whoever she has to make progress.

2) As a Secret Service captain, she wrote up a plan to stop the sale of SkyRyder equipment to the enemy, then went around her colonel and submitted it straight to MAC (MAC is the AI that is in charge of the SkyRyders Corp.)

3) MAC approved her plan, promoted her to colonel.
As a colonel, she has shown little competence, but she has warmed the beds of three generals (Generals don’t live long on the East Coast. The colonels will take them out the moment they get too greedy with their cut of their blackmarket business that sells Corps’ guns and equipment to their enemies.

To be honest, until General Logan shows up, she hasn’t been making much progress.

Stationed on opposite coasts, Alisha and Logan must each face their own demons and challenges. On the West Coast, Alisha loses her rank for butting heads with General Powell and soon discovers the life of a private can be utter hell. On the East Coast, newly promoted General Logan discovers his soldiers do not recognize his authority to command. In an effort to retake control of the East Coast Corps, Logan authorizes unthinkable actions. When Alisha faces a life-threatening crisis, will Logan rise above his own troubles, or will she discover love and rescue with her best friend Jack?

The SkyRyder’s Series, Book 3
Scavenger Vanishes

AMAZON

The more familiar Logan became with the established East Coast officers, the harder the task of winning this war became. Clearly his colonels did not recognize his right to be their general. Having his every order questioned became a routine occurrence.

If he could, he would have replaced them all, but first he needed to have colonels with whom to replace them, and MAC was selective about making colonels now. A full psych test was required. Usually it was required before becoming a general as well, but in times of war, MAC valued expediency over process, and thus had not required Logan to take a new psych test. Since he had more than his share of problems to deal with just now and couldn’t afford the fatigue the test caused, he’d been fine with skipping it.

Beyond the blatant disrespect of his officers, he had other problems. Equipment was missing, but he wasn’t yet certain if the theft was a past or current problem.

Additionally, the troops blatantly ignored his order that the making of dogs was to stop. Since his warning to cease the practice, young cadets now wore dog collars on their necks—a clear message from his captains. Not only were they ignoring his order, but they made certain he knew it.

He needed Alisha to work her magic on his troops and give them a conscience and a soul. Ben was a great flier, but the only squad he could inspire was the BDs. Originally, Logan had planned to split the BDs among the forts, but he feared they would all die of unexplained accidents if he didn’t keep them together and close at hand.

Someone placed a cup of coffee on his desk, pulling him back to the present. His strategist, Colonel Marge Williams, sat down in the chair on the other side of his desk. She looked nothing like a strategist and every bit like a blonde bombshell: gorgeous full lips, sultry eyes, and a curvaceous body that promised much pleasure in bed.

“I looked over the plans you used in your Midwest battles. They’re excellent. I see Jack Sparkes deserves his ranking as the top strategist.” She sighed. “But they aren’t going to fly on the East Coast.”

“Why not?” Logan asked. “The Cartel’s modus operandi is exactly the same here as it is in the Midwest.”

“Because the East Coast has its own way of fighting battles. The squads fly in by their captains’ seniority in service and ranking. We don’t have specialists.”

Logan stared in amazement. This was his strategist?

“So,” Logan said, trying to contain his growing anger and frustration, “In order to maintain the status quo, you’re willing to forego the use of a proven plan and continue to draw up plans that result in high casualties and destruction of Corps property?”

Marge held up her hands. “I don’t like it any more than you. However, the facts are the facts. This place is like a hardcore teamsters union. You do it their way or it doesn’t get done.”

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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