Monday, February 28, 2022

Caroline Tour and Giveaway

 


Caroline

by Adrian Spratt

Genre: Historical Thriller, Literary Fiction 


In 1980s New York City, young lawyer Nick Coleman meets free spirit Caroline Sedlak in an evening fiction writing course. A vivacious fixture at a Greenwich Village bar, she remains mysterious about her life until their teacher reads her story submission to the class, and Nick realizes that a darker past lurks beneath her happy-go-lucky exterior. This doesn’t trouble Nick, who struggles with demons of his own: as a blind lawyer launching his career prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act, he struggles to prove himself at a law office that handles appeals for indigent convicted felons.

Nick’s practical, goal-driven approach to life balances Caroline’s quixotic nature, and their friendship soon deepens into something more. For some time, they’re happy together. But as the two become closer, Nick’s reluctance to commit collides head-on with Caroline’s need to be loved and belong. Soon, they realize that Caroline hasn’t left her past far behind after all … and the behavior that Nick once found charming first frustrates, then terrifies him. As the two spiral toward an inevitable clash, Nick must choose between the life he thought he wanted, and the woman he can’t bring himself to admit he loves. 

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PROLOGUE

Outside the West Village restaurant where I’d had dinner with an old friend, I unfolded my white cane, said goodnight and set off for the Sheridan Square subway station. As I approached the next corner, a woman came to my side and asked, “Can I offer assistance?” She assumed I might need help crossing the street. Actually, I was going to turn toward the subway. She said she was going that way and that her offer stood. I took her arm, and we sped along West 4th.

Hints of spring had appeared after a long winter. Even a first-time visitor to New York would have detected the atmosphere of relief and renewal. An image came to me of lit street lamps, neon signs and car headlights staring down the night. Defiance was in the air, the kind that says life doesn’t have to be as bleak as winter insists.

“I’m still new to the city,” the woman said. She told me she’d come from Kansas to do graduate work at NYU. “What about you?”

“I’m a lawyer,” I said. “I started out in criminal law, but most of my career has been in environmental.”

She told me her name was Taylor. I told her mine was Nick.

Then she said, “I suspect I wouldn’t make a very good lawyer. What do you think?”

“What do I think! I think I hardly know you.”

“They say you get a sense of someone after two minutes. I believe there’s a lot to that. Don’t you?”

“I can tell you’re articulate. That helps if you want to be a lawyer.”

“Words, words. Everyone does words today, even if they can’t spell.”

“Can you spell?”

“That I can.”

“Okay, now you have two qualifications.”

We stepped onto the island in the middle of Sheridan Square, site of my subway entrance, but she kept going, taking a left down Seventh Avenue. Normally, I would have stopped and returned to the subway steps, but, intrigued, I went along with her unannounced detour.

She told me she was studying the relationship between the actions of statesmen and what they wrote and said before taking on leadership roles. I surmised there must be an academic cottage industry spawned by former President Barack Obama’s autobiographies. It was a world away from the one I inhabited of clean-up sites, consent decrees, arguments with our counterparts at the Justice Department when they balked at suing a polluter.

“You must make a lot of enemies in your job,” she said. “How does that make you feel?”

“I like to think of myself as peacemaker, but it seems I have a talent for antagonizing people that belies it.”

“That tells me you don’t know who you are.”

After a moment’s reflexive annoyance, I said equably, “I know I’m a sack of contradictions.”

We crossed yet another street. She said, “Are you up for a bite or something? I know a place.”

My friend and I had finished dinner earlier than usual, and Alison, my wife, had said she’d been looking forward to a rare evening on her own. That I’d extended the evening with a young woman stranger would take some explaining, but she knew how I acted on whims.

“Okay,” I told Taylor, “let’s go.”

“Just along here,” she said, turning right.

My office shoes sent cracks against the deserted street’s quiet. She must have been wearing athletic footwear because her steps landed softly. An overhead image came to me of a gray-haired man walking side by side with this young woman. In my mind’s eye, she was blonde. Well, yeah. It was an image recreated from some movie in my childhood, when I’d had vision.

The couple reached a restaurant entrance, paused, turned inside. Then the overhead camera switched off. I became myself again, responding to the maître d’ and sizing up the interior: small, busy but unflustered.

At the table, having declined the maître d’s offer to hang up her coat, she slung it over the back of her chair. “I have to be careful with money,” she explained. “Tipping to get my coat back is one expense I can do without.”

I was glad I didn’t have to deal with a coat. When I’d left home that morning, the air was brisk but buoyant with the promise of a spring day.

As she seated herself diagonally at my side, I said, “I have to tell you I’m kind of full. You met me on my way home from dinner with a friend.”

“They won’t mind. It’s not like there’s competition for tables right now. But I haven’t eaten, so I’ll be ordering something. An appetizer. That will do me fine.”

I told the waiter I wanted just a decaf, and he showed no irritation. In my mind, I said I’d leave a good tip whatever we ordered. Maybe he picked it up by extrasensory perception. Sign of a good waiter.

“So,” she said, sounding awkward now that we’d committed to time together, “how did you decide on environmental law?”

“Right after law school, I did criminal defense. Then an opportunity came up at the EPA. One of those things you don’t plan for that turns your life around.” Catching myself thinking how much emotional territory that abbreviated résumé covered, I put on a rueful grin. “But enough on law. It’s after hours.”

“Oh, sorry, no more law questions. But let me ask you this. Where I come from, people blame environmentalists for jobs leaving America. I disagree, but I don’t feel I know enough to have an opinion.”

Our coffees arrived, followed quickly by her salad. Discreetly, I touched the tablecloth and unexceptional silverware. Sensing the space between tables would let us speak without being overheard, I decided to air misgivings I rarely admit. After all, it was after hours.

“Keeping the environment clean creates jobs, but I’m guessing the people you talk to don’t want that kind of change. What troubles me more is that when we drive out the industries that cause the worst pollution, it means we’re exporting it to countries more desperate than ours.”

“Do you believe that? I mean, if you do, how could you continue doing what you do?”

“Before my time at the EPA, the fires on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River and death sites like Love Canal scared everyone, but those breakthrough battles have been fought and won. What’s left is huge, but it can be gray. So, yes, I’m proud of the work we’ve done and my own small part in it. But are the results all positive?” I shrugged. “No collective human activity does unmitigated good.”

“You’re a pessimist,” she said. “I took you for a hopeful person.”

“During those first two minutes?”

“Exactly.”

“I take it you’re an optimist.”

“See, you can tell lots of things about someone you’ve just met. What else do you know about me?”

I doubted the wisdom of answering, but I went ahead anyway. “You have strong opinions, but you listen to others.”

“That’s true.”

“You’re a kind person.”

“I try.”

“All that sounds rather basic to me,” I said. “I thought this two minutes of yours was about something more subtle—more nuanced, as people say today.”

“I can tell certain things about you that might or might not be subtle.”

I almost groaned, having no desire to expose myself either to analysis or teasing. “Okay, like what?”

“From the quality of your suit and tie, I know you’re comfortably off. Oh, forgive me. That’s a visual thing.”

“Are you sure about that, Sherlock? By the way, what is the feminine for Sherlock, do you know?”

She ignored my frivolity. “I was apologizing for mentioning something you can’t share.”

“How do you know I can’t share?”

“Okay, I guess I don’t know. I mean, you can know what you’re wearing, of course, but I don’t see how you can know what I am.”

“Outside you were wearing a trim coat, not a windbreaker or something else I’d expect from a student.”

She sighed. “You’re better at this two-minutes thing than me.”

“I doubt it.” Then I said, “I don’t suppose you’re up for some wine. It looks like we’re not leaving soon, and I feel we should pay a little more rent for this table.”

“Love some. How about a half carafe of the house red or white?”

We settled on the red, which arrived with the same courtesy as before. The waiter poured.

Returning to her two-minutes theme, I said, “What else have you picked up about me, visual or otherwise?”

“I’ve annoyed you. I’m sorry.” She touched my hand, a fleeting gesture, gone almost before I’d noticed.

“Go ahead,” I said, “speculate away.”

“Under that debonair exterior,” she said, “I sense sadness. Maybe I’m picking up that you’re lonely.”

I remembered I wasn’t wearing my wedding ring. I’d done so for several months after the ceremony, but it irritated my skin and Alison had graciously conceded it was best left at home. After tonight, she might think again.

Doing one of those heaving sighs that lifts the shoulders, I told Taylor, “Perhaps we’d better stop there.”

She turned the subject to herself. “Would you say I’m lonely?”

“After all, you’re an attractive young woman with an hour or two to spare for a man twice her age.”

She answered with a halting, “Ye–es.” Then she said, “What makes you say I’m attractive?”

“You act on impulse and live in the moment.”

“You know me better than I know myself.”

“I know you hardly at all.”

“So you said. But I’m finding it fascinating how much you can know. I’ve never spent any time with someone who can’t see. It made me a little scared.”

“And tonight you decided to face up to your scare.”

“If you want to put it that way.”

I could have said, “Then how would you put it?” but I knew about acting on impulse. I doubted Taylor had seen me in the street and said to herself, “Time to get over that phobia.” Her explanation had probably come to mind as we meandered around the West Village.

“So, Taylor, are you about to say I have super-developed perception?”

“The way you put that, I’d better not.”

That brought a smile to my face, as her voice betrayed it had to hers.

After taking a sip of wine, she said, “Don’t you think we’re all freaks?”

“Freaks?”

“That we’re all—I don’t know—different. If we admitted it, wouldn’t it make us more tolerant?”

Her word put me off, but it did go to the heart of what she’d been getting at.

“Tolerant maybe,” I said. Then my inner trickster piped up. “But given a choice between stopping in the street to talk to someone and getting home, I usually choose home.”

“Tonight you didn’t.”

Having made the mistake of trying to hide my amusement behind a sip of wine, I spluttered into the glass. But I recovered with what I considered aplomb. “I decided it was high time I overcame my fear of talking to women who accost me in the street.”

“Touché,” she said, bumping my glass with hers. “So, women ‘accost’ you, as you say, all the time?”

“Absolutely. But what I’m really saying is that people of all ages and genders offer help.”

“Hope for humanity,” she said.

“Depends on how the help is offered.”

“Did I do it right?”

“Perfectly. You gave me a choice. You didn’t grab my arm. You didn’t ask a stupid question like, ‘Do you know where you’re going?’”

“Why is that a stupid question?”

“Would I be out and about if I didn’t know where I was going?”

“You must experience a lot of stupidity.”

“And a lot of thoughtfulness.”

“So you are an optimist.”

Her knee touched mine. It stayed.

“I’m not lonely in the traditional sense,” she said, turning her earlier question back on herself. “But I don’t seem able to settle down with one person. That’s a form of loneliness, don’t you think?”

“How old are you, Taylor?”

“Twenty-six.”

“I was the same at your age. I mean, I found it unsettling to keep starting and ending relationships. But I also found it exciting.”

“Exciting?”

“I’d long felt insecure about women’s feelings for me. All of a sudden, that changed. I’m guessing you’ve never had doubts about your attractiveness.”

“In middle school and maybe into high school. Good grades didn’t make for popularity.”

“Just that?”

“Okay, and I was flat-chested till later than most girls. You don’t want anyone to notice at that age, but you feel lacking. And I do mean lacking. It feels like a moral failing. But it’s weird that I can’t settle on one person. It means I do cruel things without meaning or wanting to.”

“Like what?”

“Leading guys on.”

“Sure you aren’t still in high school?”

“You’re saying I’m immature. But I don’t lead guys on to make them crazy. I get really, really involved in someone, but then something or someone else takes over.”

“It’s good you know you have the power to hurt.”

“What do you mean?”

“There are people who think no one cares enough about them to be hurt by what they do.” She couldn’t know how hard-earned that knowledge was.

“Oh, I know people care.”

“Well, if settling down with someone is something you hope for, it should happen. If it’s only an ideal you’ve picked up second-hand, who knows?”

“I don’t even know if I’m into women or men.”

I snorted. “Aren’t you being a tad too faddish?”

I sensed her knee’s touch get lighter. Then to my relief, she laughed.

“I suppose I don’t see a long-term relationship with a woman in my future.” Her knee’s pressure returned.

“Process of elimination,” I said. “A start.”

The half carafe yielded two smaller glasses. This time she poured.

I said, “I should be going soon. Tomorrow is another long day.”

“And I’ve got a bunch of studying to do. I’ll get our waiter’s attention.” As she spoke, her voice moved to the side, which told me she was signaling for the check. Then she said, “I guess loneliness is on my mind because I worry that if I’m not in a relationship after the youthful bloom has gone, I might find myself alone and left behind. In Jane Austen’s day, a woman who wasn’t married by my age had poor prospects.”

“In Jane Austen’s day, you had to follow the map laid out for you. It’s sad when anyone today has unerringly followed the course mapped out for them.”

“How did you avoid doing that?”

“Ah, one benefit of disability. No good maps. You’ve made sure you won’t follow someone else’s map, either.”

“How did I do that?”

“By coming to New York from Kansas, for one thing. For another, by plucking a stranger like me out of thin air and sharing these two hours with him.”

The check arrived. I thought about splitting it, telling her I recognized her as equal, but our finances weren’t. She graciously consented to my paying the bill on condition I let her cover the tip. I hoped she honored my unspoken promise to the waiter.

“Taylor, I’m curious about the appearance of the woman I’ve been having this conversation with. Tell me something about yourself.”

“So, you didn’t learn everything about me in those first two minutes.”

“I already told you so.”

She proved to be “a Midwest farmer’s daughter,” as she put it. “Fair hair, blue eyes. Also, um, pointed chin, small nose. I have an unsightly bump on the bridge of my nose. One day when I’m rich, I’ll have a plastic surgeon fix it.”

Seeing me start, she said, “You disapprove of plastic surgery?”

I pushed down a memory for later. “No, I don’t. Cosmetics matter.”

I took the risk of touching her hair. She slightly dipped her head toward me, as if to signal consent. I brushed my thumb against her cheek, a physicality to remember her by.

Outside, I paid the price for having opted against wearing a coat that morning. The air had turned colder, sharpened by a night wind off the Hudson.

This time we stopped on reaching the steps down to my station. I considered giving her my business card or asking for her number. I did neither. I’d bragged to her that I’d followed my own map. In following it, I’d done harm. As Taylor said about herself, I hadn’t meant to, but it didn’t free me from culpability. At least I’d learned a lesson or two, and one was to let this brief intersection of our lives stay just that.

She, too, avoided the false promise of “Let’s get together again.” Instead, saying, “Thank you for a lovely time,” she kissed my cheek and walked back down Seventh Avenue.

Turning to the subway steps, I gave in to the pull of the past.

Adrian Spratt practiced law for twenty years, mainly in consumer protection, before returning to his first love, fiction writing. He graduated from Amherst College and earned his law degree from Harvard. Retinal detachment led to his loss of vision when he was thirteen. Today, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the artist and photographer Laura Rosen. His website, where he maintains a blog and showcases selected stories, essays and memoir excerpts, is www.adrianspratt.com.


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Tales From the Deck- The Magician Tour and Giveaway

 


The Magician

Tales From the Deck Book 1

by Shiloh Faustine Terrance

Genre: Epic Fantasy, Paranormal 

A Tarot card reading propels a disheartened musician, Michael, into a vortex of arcane magic, esoterism and prophecies. Perplexed but intrigued by the mysterious Shiloh’s predictions, Michael abandons all reservations and follows Shiloh into the realms of her mysterious world. As Michael learns to embrace the powerful energies of the Magician, he plunges into the depths of his own mystery to become the architect of his destiny.


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Shiloh Faustine Terrance grew up in a small town in the heart of the French Alps. It was there that she developed a lasting fascination for the Hermetic teachings and the ancient wisdom of the Tarot and the Kabbalah, an interest she has pursued to the present day. The Magician is the first novel from her Tales From The Deck series.


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Wild Child of the Monsoon Blitz

 

Poetry

Date Published: December 2021



A collection of lyrical poetry that savours the myriad of emotions that life gifts us.

Wild Child of the Monsoons sprinkles water on core emotions that will make the reader realize who they truly are. The author will take readers on a hope filled nostalgic journey on a canoe of vibrant emotions to help them connect with their true self. It is a raw poetic record of pain, love, loss, grief and gratitude that will ultimately lead one to their higher self and self-love. It will help one to look within and own all the beautiful and painful emotions with an inner sense of knowing that one is not alone in this journey. It will elevate one to that sacred space within oneself where you know that you are loved and your divine self is always celebrated.

Are you reading to start your journey today?



A word from the Author

I was a lass about age six when I started writing the songs of my soul with a semi-sharpened pencil without an eraser. I found torn papers discarded from perfect two-lined books to pen my thoughts. Not grasping how my ideas aligned with my words, I wrote verses and songs sitting on a narrow wooden bridge over the stream winding the paddy fields in my ancestral home.


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RABT Book Tours & PR

✱✱Book Review✱✱ Blog Tour: PHANTOM GAME by Christine Feehan

 

Two predators collide with unbridled passion in this intoxicating GhostWalker novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.
 
Jonas “Smoke” Harper has watched his brothers find their perfect mates, never imagining he’d actually meet someone who complements every part of him—even the monster that lurks within. But his instant connection with Camellia goes far beyond wanting the intelligent, beautiful, and lethal woman in his bed. They are two parts of a whole, linked to each other and to a larger network that exists everywhere around them.
 
Camellia has lived on her own for a long time, relying on her unique psychic abilities to keep her safe. She knows that Jonas was literally made for her, and that makes their addictive connection more dangerous than a thousand enhanced super soldiers. Once the larger threat looming over them is dealt with she’s going to get far away as fast as she can. Life has taught her that the only one she can truly trust is herself.
 
Jonas can sense Camellia is going to run—and the hunter inside doesn’t want to let go. Not when he knows how good they’ll be together. So he’ll just have to use all of his considerable skills to convince her to stay....



Momma Says: 4 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐

A match made - well, a match made by a mad scientist. The premise for this series is so unique. I mean, we've all at least heard stories about enhanced super-soldiers, but this one takes it a step further and includes a made for him mate. Camellia and Jonas have terrific chemistry, a chemistry they can't deny no matter how hard one of them may try. The beginning of this one was a little bit slow to start, but once things get going, it's fast-paced and the tension is through the roof. There is also some catch-up time with past series favorites for those who have followed the series. The whole thing has a found family vibe, which I love, and the characters are likable and interesting. There is a lot happening here, but rather than get too far into spoiler territory, I'll just say I thoroughly enjoyed the action, the romance, and the storyline. 
 

Camellia Mist paced back and forth in the confines of her small house, feeling a bit like a caged animal. She felt a threat approaching across the periphery of her senses, but not a single one of her warning systems had raised an alarm. There were three men camping just inside the lines of her property. It had never happened before, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t. Besides, the threat didn’t feel as if it was coming from them.

The men were sick and disoriented, at least from what she could discern from the reports of the owls and wolves she had keeping a close eye on them. One of the men in particular looked to be in bad shape. He was apparently the most affected by the sonic disruptions she’d woven into the mist. She didn’t like making innocent hikers ill, but she had to keep them away from her gardens—and from her. She hoped they would camp for the night and get back on the main trail. In the morning, she planned on doubling the mist around them, leaving just a slight opening to lure them away from her refuge.

Still, she had this terrible, nearly overwhelming feeling of doom. That was never good. She didn’t have premonitions often, but when she did, they weren’t without cause. She felt . . . hunted. Had Whitney found her? She couldn’t imagine that he would. She had been very careful not to leave any trace behind. So very careful.

She’d avoided people, lived off the land, become a complete recluse. She was almost entirely self-sufficient up here in her secluded little garden, and the few times she needed supplies she couldn’t harvest, hunt or make herself, she snuck into town at night and broke into stores, avoiding the cameras, careful to take only what she absolutely needed to survive. She always took enough supplies to see her through several months so she wouldn’t have to make trips during winter months when the snow was deep and shut down the trails and roads.

How would Whitney have found her? He always planted tracking devices in the women, but she found the one in her hip and cut it out. It hadn’t been that deep. Had there been a second one? If so, why would he have waited so long before he sent someone after her?

Chewing at her lower lip, a nervous habit Whitney had detested in her and in all the girls, Camellia went to the bed and lay down so she could run her fingers over her skin to feel for any foreign object, no matter how small. She had very sensitive fingertips. More, the blood in her veins was connected to nature, to the plants that grew within the perimeter of her land. She tapped into that environment now, seeking an outside source to aid her in examining her body for anything that Whitney may have surgically placed in her without her knowledge. She found nothing.

No trackers, then, that she could find, yet that feeling of dread refused to go away. If anything, the awareness of a predator closing in on her increased to such an extent that she leapt to her feet and rushed to change into clothes made of soft, organic material that would blend with her garden and allow her to disappear at will. Since no warning had been triggered, she couldn’t explain why she was so certain someone was stalking her, but she was absolutely sure. She needed to be outside where she could see what was happening around her and let her plants talk to her.

If the threat was beyond her garden—could it be coming from the GhostWalkers who, as she’d recently discovered, had well-established fortresses several miles below her on the steeper side of the mountain? She would reach for the reptiles, the frogs and lizards. GhostWalkers rarely suspected them, where they often did birds and mammals. Just the idea that a GhostWalker might be stalking her was terrifying.

From PHANTOM GAME published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Christine Feehan.



🞿🞿🞿🞿🞿

author photo by Michael Greene

Christine Feehan
 is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Carpathian series, the GhostWalker series, the Leopard series, the Shadow Riders series, and the Sea Haven novels, including the Drake Sisters series and the Sisters of the Heart series. Learn more online at christinefeehan.com.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

King of Vegas Tour and Giveaway

 


King of Vegas

City of Sinners Book 1

by Sienne Vega

Genre: Dark Mafia Romance 

I witness a crime I have no business seeing. Now I’m in the clutches of a powerful and deadly mafia boss.

From the moment he comes into the Dollhouse, he won’t take his eyes off me.

He might be just what I need. A big spender to help me with my money issues.

But there’s one problem.

This is no average man. This is Giovanni Sorrentino, the new King of Vegas.

And when I stumble on something I shouldn’t, I realize I’m in big trouble.

Now it’s more than just money on the line.

I’m a goner unless I accept his deal—vow to be his, and I get to live.

But how long will it be before this ruthless King tires of his new toy?

King of Vegas is book 1 of 3 in the City of Sinner's dark mafia romance series. It is not suitable for readers under 18 due to graphic violent and sexual content.


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Sienne has a thing for dark and brooding alphas and the women who love them.

She enjoys writing stories where lines are blurred, and the romance is dark and delicious.

In her spare time, she unwinds with a nice glass of wine and Netflix binge.


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In My Hands Tour and Giveaway

  In My Hands by Sathya Achia Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure Sixteen-year-old Chandra S. Chengappa, a competitive classical dancer, passes...