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Wednesday musings on writing

It occurred to me earlier today that I’ve been working professionally in the writing dodge (and by professionally I mean people have given me money in exchange for my words) for about twenty-two years, now. My writing career can legally drink, if not rent a car. Which is probably for the best, if you think about it.

So while I may bitch and moan about sales at times, in retrospect I’m actually pretty happy with where I’ve gotten to at this point. Between my SF and romance names (by the way, you all DO know that I write science fiction and urban fantasy as Melanie Fletcher, right?) I have seven full-length novels, three novellas, two novelettes, and twenty-six short stories to my credit. That’s not bad at all, especially since I’ll be bringing out at least another three novels this year as well as more novellas and short stories.

And not only have I been publishing, but I’ve been gifted with a fiercely devoted band of readers (you know who you are, and you are all in the will), plus I’ve been getting critical attention for my work. Night Owl Reviews just did an interview with me, and the lovely and talented Cynthia Sax will also have an interview on Degree of Resistance up on her website soon. So, yeah, I’ve actually done pretty well in my career so far (take that, Imposter Syndrome!).

Fabulous, I hear you say, but why are you babbling at us about this? Well, 1) because I can, and 2) it helps to work out what I’m going to do next. This year I’ve decided to concentrate on leveling up to the next professional step; namely, increasing my readership, shooting for a USA Today bestseller list slot, and maybe even winning an award or two (although I’m reminded of the fact that Sir Terry Pratchett, he of the insanely successful and brilliant Discworld series, never won anything until late in his career. People rarely take humor with the seriousness it deserves. But I digress). And the best way to do all that is to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep entertaining folks, which, yeah, just twist my arm already.

Did I mention that you’re all cruel but beautiful, and I love you oodles for reading my stuff? Because I do.

SFR Brigade Showcase: Degree of Resistance

sfrb-showcasebannerHello, folks! My new cyborg romance Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1) is now available on Amazon and other online retailers of fine SF romance, and I want to share a scene here that, to me, encapsulates the relationship between my main characters, bless their hard little heads.

Some backstory: the year is 2048, the United States has fallen and the Pacifica Protectorate is the most powerful nation-state on the West Coast. Evie Contreras is a freelance cybertech who lost the love of her life, Ben Drake, twelve years ago. When she finds out that Ben is still alive and has been turned into a cyborg soldier by the protectorate, she rescues him with the help of a shadowy resistance group known as Rubicon. In return, Rubicon wants Evie to go back to the Pacifica Protectorate and retrieve a hidden AI for them. Needless to say, Ben is not happy about this.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great SF romance at the SFR Brigade Showcase!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. An innocent man forced into cyborg slavery. A woman determined to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecoverEvie opened the control box wired to the pressure tank that took water from the Burgess well. A set of dusty but functional solar cells sat on a pole fastened to the tank, and insulated wiring led from the cells to the control box. “Okay, the well is definitely not dry and the battery is pulling juice from the cells, so it’s got to be a failure in the pump,” she said, rooting around in the bag of borrowed tools next to her.

Ben crouched down next to her, making sure he was in between her and any potential restart of the McBride/Burgess water war. “Think you can fix it?”

She gave him an “are you kidding” glance, then returned her attention to the dusty innards of the control box. She leaned closer, nose wrinkling. “Ew.”

“What?”

Grimacing, she reached into the box and pulled out a small, stiff body. “I think it’s a deep-fried lizard. Can they chew on wires?”

He gingerly accepted the small corpse. The arid air had done a fine job of natural mummification on it. “Not as much. It might’ve peed on something, though.”

“Yay.” She peered deeper into the box. “Yeah, I think you’re right—looks like a contact got corroded. I can fix that.”

As she got to work, Ben kept an ear cocked to the radio clipped to his jacket pocket. After giving them a royal chewing out for taking an unauthorized beer break, J.C. was overseeing the repair of the War Wagon while a chastised Vince and company drove the bartered food and the wounded security officer back to the base in the Bandit. Rob had volunteered to stay behind as backup, and Evie’s presence had been requested at J.C.’s side once she was finished with the well pump.

He watched her frown in concentration at the control box. “There, that should work. I already primed the pump so—” She flipped a switch and the pressure tank rumbled before settling down to a satisfied gurgling. “Damn, I’m good.”

“Yes, you are.”

She squinted at him, patches of color blooming in her cheeks. He didn’t think it was because of the blustery wind. “Thanks. We better get back to the War Wagon.”

He got up and gave her a hand, hanging onto it once she was on her feet. She didn’t try to pull away, which was reassuring. “I’m sorry about punching the wall in your office,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

The corner of her mouth quirked. “I think you were justified.”

“I don’t, but thanks for that.” He stared at the hollows between the hills of her knuckles, the elegant strength of the hand. He never wanted to let it go. “I just hate the thought of you going back to Pacifica without me.”

The wind drove strands of dark hair across her face, curtaining it. “I know, but I don’t have a choice. Ballardie and I are the only ones who know how to shut down Lilith’s server. He can’t go so it has to be me. But I’m going to have Mark, Rob, and Lisa backing me up, and they’re all armed and extremely psycho. I’ll be fine.”

Ben wanted to smile at her description of the security officers. “Baby, you could head in there with a cyborg army at your back and I’d still worry.”

She snorted. “Is there anything I could say that would make you feel better?”

“Not really.” He brushed the hair away from her face. “I guess … I’m feeling useless right now because I can’t protect you, and I’m scared I’m going to lose you again, and if that happens…” He didn’t want to think about the yawning abyss that would become the brief remainder of his life in that case.

Those lovely russet eyes softened. “I understand about being scared,” she said, cupping his cheek. “That’s how I felt every time you went on deployment. I never knew if you were going to be in danger or not. All I could do was wait and pray that you came home.”

“Shit.” He pressed into the warmth of her hand, memorizing how she felt against his skin. “If this is how you felt, I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about. It’s part of loving a soldier. I knew that going in.” Her thumb stroked his cheekbone. “But I also knew if there was any way for you to come back, you’d take it. And you proved me right. You survived twelve years under Camden, and you came back to me. So I’m telling you right now that I’m coming back to you, and I’m bringing Ally with me.”

He leaned down, pressing his forehead against hers. “You better. I don’t think I can live without you.”

“Same here. Twelve years was long enough.” Her lips quirked. “And as for you being useless, may I remind you that you just walked into a strange town alone, convinced an armed man to let you into his bar, singlehandedly negotiated a ceasefire between two crazy people, rescued a bunch of our guys in the process, and you didn’t fire a single shot or spill a drop of blood doing it. You’re about as far from useless as it’s physically possible to be.”

He considered what she’d said. Viewed in that light, it was kind of impressive. “I was just doing my job,” he said, self-conscious.

“That’s what heroes always say.”

“You think I’m a hero?”

Her smile was blinding. “Well, you’ve always been my hero.”

Christ, he loved her. He pulled her into his arms, resting his cheek on top of her head. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you,” he murmured, “but damn, I’m glad I did it.”

“So am I.” She leaned back and kissed him, her lips cool and soft. “And I know this is kind of pointless to say to a hero, but try not to worry about me. The thing is—”

She shifted, her hands moving. He suddenly found himself on the cold ground, right arm straight up behind him with his hand flexed in a wrist lock and her foot braced under his shoulder blade. “—I’m not exactly what you’d call helpless.”

He huffed out a rueful laugh. He could break the lock with his augmented strength, but not without hurting her. And if he was honest with himself he was damned impressed that she’d put him on the ground so neatly. “Someone’s been practicing.”

“Yup. Rob’s pretty damn good at hand-to-hand, and I still remember everything you and Tio Christo taught me.” Her voice dropped. “I’m coming back, Ben. And I’m bringing our daughter with me. You’re not going to lose either of us ever again.”

The grip around his wrist disappeared. He rolled onto his back, staring up at the most beautiful mouth in the world. Upside down, he wasn’t sure if she was smiling or frowning.

She planted her hands on her hips. “You believe me, right?”

He grinned. “My momma didn’t raise stupid children, ma’am. I believe you.”

“Good.” She toed at the dust. “Now get up. I’m freezing my ass off out here and I want to go home.”

Home. That sounded like a fine idea.


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Mid Week Tease: Degree of Resistance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks, and welcome to Mid Week Tease hosted by Angelica Dawson! So, Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1), is now out and available for purchase. Today’s scene is where Evie first sees the graphic evidence of what the Pacifica Protectorate did to Ben. Next week we’re back to sexytimes, I promise.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. A betrayed man forced into mindless slavery. A woman willing to break all the rules to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecover“Excuse me,” Evie said, “where’s the ICU?”

The nurse pointed down the hallway. “Go down, turn left at the nurse’s station, then left again at the restrooms. It’s behind the big blue security doors—you can’t miss it.”

“Thanks.” She followed the directions to the doors that were marked “ICU—authorized medical personnel only.” If they were locked and controlled by Lilith, would the AI let her through? And even if she got through the doors, someone might challenge her.

Act like you belong. That was easy enough; she was already wearing scrubs. For added verisimilitude she grabbed a pile of sheets from a small cart as a prop, plopping the tablet on top. Taking a breath, she pushed at one of the doors. It opened and she stepped through.

A short hallway beyond ended at a circular nurse’s station manned by a handsome and clearly bored man in surgical blue scrubs. His curly black hair had been cut short, and he needed a shave judging by the heavy five o’clock shadow, but his eyes lit up when he saw her.

“Hel-lo,” he said in a drawled British accent. “Did someone finally hear my plea for more help?”

“That’s what I was told,” Evie said. “I’m Ally. Where do you need me?”

“Oh, my.” The man gave her a slow up and down that was too deliberately over the top to be offensive. “Don’t ask me questions like that, love. I’m still on call for two more hours.”

She snorted, glancing at the whiteboard propped up on the station’s counter. It had to be a list of patient rooms. “I bet you say that to all the staff members.”

“Only the ones who’ve stolen my heart.” He plunked his hand over his breastbone. “Promise me I’ll see you later, Ally. It may be the only thing that gets me through this deathly dull shift.”

This one was a charmer, which made things easier and harder at the same time. Easier because he’d let her slide past. Harder because he’d undoubtedly check out her ass as she walked away. “No promises—”

“Samir. Dr. Samir Haddad.” Something on his console beeped and he grimaced. “Damn. Duty calls, love. I’ll catch you later?”

“You can try.” Giving him a smile, she walked around the station, resisting the urge to hurry.

The nurse’s station sat at the crosspoint of four corridors like a bull’s eye. Luck and left-to-right reading habits were with her and B corridor was immediately opposite. She headed down there, counting rooms until she came to B4.

The board had Drake, B printed neatly next to the B4 slot. Licking dry lips, she grabbed the door handle. The worst they would do was kick her out, maybe yell at her for coming in without authorization, right? She’d take that if she could just see him for a minute, make sure he was all right, maybe even talk to him.

She opened the door, ready to smile.

And stopped.

Her mind couldn’t comprehend the form that was on the hospital bed. It was as if someone had made a lifelike mannequin of Ben, then removed both arms and everything below the middle of its chest. The holes in the trunk and arms had been sealed neatly with some sort of gelatinous caps, and a variety of tubes and wires ran from them to a combination of equipment arranged around the bed. Some of it she recognized from her own work, like the rounded white med droid with the spidery arms that stood in the corner. The rest appeared to be high-tech hospital equipment, all of it keeping what was on the bed alive.

She’d known intellectually what a cyborg was. Artificial arms, legs, internal organs; she could accept that. She thought she could accept that. But this was something that bypassed rational thought and went straight to the primitive brain, terrifying it.

She gasped a little when he opened his eyes. “Ben?” It was a whispered prayer.

But he heard her. Those grey-blue eyes opened, blinking a few times before he could focus on her. It broke her heart when he smiled. “Evie?”

Go to him. Touch him, tell him it’s going to be all right.

She couldn’t move.

His smile faded. He glanced down, craning his neck. His eyes went wide, filling with horror. “No. Oh, God, no!”

She choked back a sob, shaking her head.

Fierce color flooded his face. The horror disappeared, replaced by incandescent fury. “Get out!” he shouted, raising his head off the bed far enough to jostle some of the wires and tubes. Somewhere an alarm began to bleep. “Goddamn you, Evie, don’t look at me! Get out!”

She wanted to. She didn’t want to see any of this. Screwing her eyes shut, she fumbled for the door handle behind her.

“Get out!”

There it was. She stepped backwards, away from the raging half-man screaming at her from the bed.

And backed into someone. When she turned, Samir glowered down at her. “I think we need to have a chat, Ally.”


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Mid Week Tease: Degree of Resistance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks, and welcome to Mid Week Tease hosted by Angelica Dawson! So, Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1), is now out and available for purchase. And to switch things up a bit, today’s scene is more tense than teasing — after Evie, Ben, and Evie’s daughter have been captured by Ben’s former commanding officer General Camden, Evie’s ex …  I hesitate to call him boyfriend. Guy she was expected to have sex with in order to keep her job? Anyway, Gene shows up, wanting his property back. Ben’s not going to be very happy about this, as you will soon see.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. A betrayed man forced into mindless slavery. A woman willing to break all the rules to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecoverCamden settled back on the desk, wrinkling her nose. “There, that’s better. Now, the rest of us can have a lovely little chat.”

“Yeah, about that,” Gene said, practically vibrating in place. “You want the guy and his kid, fine. You’ve got them. I’m taking Evie now.”

Evie wasn’t sure who tensed first, herself or Ben. If Gene took her now, she knew she’d never see Ben or Ally again.

The general pursed her lips in dismay. “Oh, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. I need her for this next part.”

Gene’s attention jumped between Evie and Camden. “We had a deal. I was supposed to tell you if she showed up. You’d take anyone she was with, and I’d get her. That was the deal.”

Camden’s bright good humor didn’t change, but a thin layer of ice formed under it. “To paraphrase one of my favorite movie characters, I’m changing the deal.” She leaned forward, fixing a predator’s grin on the younger man. “Pray I don’t change it further.”

Evie had to bite back a hysterical laugh when Gene’s jaw dropped in shock. He struggled to regain control, his status as a Shareholder’s heir helping to shore that up. “That shit may work on your soldier boys, lady, but it doesn’t work on me. I went to a fuckload of time and expense to get a cabin up north for her, and I’m not going to waste all of that because you want to play some fucked-up game.”

Camden blinked. “I see. And what were you planning on doing in this cabin with Ms. Contreras?”

“What do you think?”

Ben’s muscles tensed for a lunge at Gene. Evie gripped his arm hard.

The general steepled her hands, raised index fingers resting on her lips. “I’m thinking you were planning on kidnapping a citizen of the protectorate and imprisoning her in that godforsaken wilderness near Portland so that you could rape her whenever your wife-to-be cut you off from your marital privileges. Is that roughly what you had in mind?”

This time Gene’s jaw almost hit his chest. “I’m not—I don’t—what the fuck is wrong with you?”

Evie had to throw all of her weight into keeping Ben on the couch. “Don’t,” she pleaded softly. “Please.”

Camden threw them a smirk. “Captain Drake here doesn’t seem all that impressed with your plans, Mr. Song. Neither does your inamorata, to be honest.”

Startled, Gene glanced at Evie. “Look, I know it’s little primitive but it’ll do for now.” From the slight whine in his tone, it was clear he was annoyed at having to use persuasion. “But you can stay there and no one will ever be able to find you, I promise.” He held out a hand. “She’s not stupid enough to shoot either of us. Come on, let’s go.”

Evie stared at him. He was right; Camden wouldn’t shoot the heir of Dae-Jung Song in his own home. If she took his hand and walked out the door with him now, she’d live.

As his sex slave, trapped in the middle of nowhere and totally dependent on him for everything. Protected behind his privileged bubble, he couldn’t understand that his offer wasn’t life. It was a life sentence.

Slowly, she shook her head. “I’m not going anywhere with you, Gene.”

His brow furrowed. “Goddamn it, Evie, I’m telling you I found a way we can be together. Hye won’t ever find out—”

“I don’t care about Hye. I’m not going anywhere with you, don’t you understand that?” She wrapped her hand around Ben’s. Gene spotted the gesture, eyes widening in astonishment. “I don’t want to be with you.”

His incomprehension disappeared, replaced by anger. “You belong to me,” he snarled.

“No, I don’t. I never belonged to you.” All those emotion bottled for so many years rose to the surface, burning her clean. “I didn’t have a choice about fucking you—that was all your father’s idea. Now I do have a choice. I’m free, and I’m not going anywhere with you.”

He bared a set of perfect teeth in a predator’s snarl. “You stupid bitch. I’m going to stash you in that cabin until that fucking fidelity clause is up, and I will fuck you any way I please, and you will say ‘thank you, sir’ each fucking time, do you understand—”

“Sit down, captain,” Camden barked.

Ben dropped back onto the couch from a half-crouch, blue eyes flat and murderous as they fixed on Gene. “Then tell him to shut his mouth before I shut it for him permanently,” he said softly.


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Mid Week Tease: Degree of Resistance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks! I’m gearing up for the release of my new cyborg romance Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1), and it’s time to start posting some hot little teasers so that you know what you have to look forward to on February 21. The book is also available for pre-order on Amazon at a sale price of 99¢, so snag your copy now before it goes up to the regular price of $3.99.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. A betrayed man forced into mindless slavery. A woman willing to break all the rules to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecover“I’ll have Ally packed up and ready to go tomorrow.”

“No problemo, El Capitan,” Evie brushed a spiky lock of hair behind one ear, flicking the purple tip with a finger.

Ben sighed. “You know I feel old every time you call me that, right?”

“Yup. That’s why I do it.” She tried not to stare too openly at the man behind the wheel of the GoCar. Not only was Ben Drake her late uncle’s best friend and a good friend of her family, he was also her employer, at least until she started college in the fall. And she understood it wasn’t too terribly slick to crush on your boss, especially when you were nineteen and he was thirty.

Even if he was tall, handsome as hell, and confident in an “alpha male without being an asshole” way. That last part was so damn sexy it carbonated her hormones every time she saw him. She decided to cut him some slack. “Seriously, though, it’s all good. I’ve got everything ready for her in my room.” Ben’s six-year-old daughter Ally had stayed over at the Contreras’s often enough that everyone knew the drill. The little girl was sound asleep at her dad’s base quarters now, one of the other officers keeping an eye on her while Ben ran Evie home. “Do you know how long you’ll be gone?”

He hesitated, then gestured vaguely, his PPDF grey uniform jacket dark against the GoCar’s upholstery. “It’s supposed to be two weeks, but you know that can change. Will that be all right with your folks?”

She had to grin at that. “You’re kidding, right? Mama’s already cooking up everything Ally likes, and as far as Papa’s concerned the more kids in the house, the better.”

Something in his expression flickered and she bit her lip, wishing she hadn’t put it that way. It sounded too much like flirting. Or worse, a suggestion. Yeah, Papa would be over the moon if she made him an abuelo, and Mama would be even more thrilled. But first she’d have to get married, then apply for a child permit. Then and only then would the contraceptive implant the local clinic had installed after her first period be turned off. No chance of unexpected kids in today’s Pacifica Protectorate, that was for damn sure.

She wasn’t even sure she wanted one, anyway. Babies were a huge time sink, and she had a lot of schooling ahead of her. But having a six-year-old stepdaughter might be okay, a little voice spoke up.

She quashed that voice. It was stupid even to hope. Ben was smart, hot, and a Defense Forces captain. There had to be tons of women after him. “Anyway, we’re all set to have her, don’t worry about that. You just take care of yourself.”

“Roger that.” He grinned at her, his smile dazzling even in the dimness of the car interior. “And thank you, Evie. I don’t think I tell you enough how much I appreciate everything you do for Ally and me.”

“Oh. Um, you’re welcome.” She could feel her cheeks heat at the praise, which just made them blaze even more. Ben’s wife Marilynn had died in her sleep from an unsuspected aneurysm when Ally was two. Christo was still alive then, and the entire Contreras family had unofficially adopted Ben and Ally. When Mama suggested that Evie become Ally’s regular babysitter, she’d grumbled a little for show, but soon came to appreciate the extra money Ben gave her for her school fund.

Over the last four years, however, her feelings towards both Ally and Ben had changed. Ally was a sunny little girl who lived for hugs, reading, and playing with Evie’s collection of BuildIts, cybered building blocks that could be made up into simple robots. Evie liked to tease Ben that one of these days he’d come home to find out that Ally had turned their household electronics into a kludged-together death ray. Ben would just smile and say that the Defense Forces would be happy to recruit her for their research department.

As for Ben, at some point he’d crossed an invisible border from being Tio Christo’s best friend to a handsome man who took up more and more space in Evie’s thoughts. When she turned eighteen last year, Ben had surprised her by asking if he could file the necessary permits to make her Ally’s official guardian. “Just in case. You know DF grunts—we like to have everything covered,” he’d said. She didn’t want to assume anything from the gesture; she was of legal age, and it made perfect sense for the family that already loved Ally to take care of her in case anything ever happened to him.

But in her heart of hearts, Evie wondered if it meant something else. He could have asked Mama or Papa to become Ally’s guardian—they would have said yes in a heartbeat. But he’d asked her instead. Once the permit had been approved, she’d caught Ben looking at her more and more, something wistful in his eyes. He’d never said anything, never made an overture. Was he waiting for her to make the first move?

Did she have the gónadas to do it?

Before she could open her mouth, he cleared his throat. “Anyway, I better get going. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She slumped against the seat. So much for that. “Yeah, okay.”

She reached for the door handle, then paused. Serving in the Defense Forces was a dangerous job. Christo was proof of that. And while Ben was an experienced soldier, there was never a guarantee that he’d come back from a deployment. She was of legal age and had her contraceptive implant. And the worst, the absolute worst he would do was tell her no. It would break her heart, true, but it would break her heart even worse if he never came back and didn’t know how she felt.

She took a deep breath, then leaned back into him and pressed her lips to his, heart pounding. This close she could smell the light scent of his usual body wash, and underneath it the scent of cotton, salt, and something she could only describe as healthy male. His lips felt warm and firm against her own, but he didn’t react to the kiss. Please, Ben. Do something.

Still no reaction. Deflated, she pulled back just enough to see his eyes. The light blue had almost completely disappeared, pushed into a thin ring around a dark center.

“Oh, thank God,” he muttered.

And then his arms slid around her, pulling her in tight as his mouth came back down on hers, forcing out a soft whimper. Dimly she hoped that he didn’t take that as a no. Because it was most definitely not a no.

It was nothing like kissing guys her own age. It was much, much, much better.


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Mid Week Tease: Degree of Resistance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks! I’m gearing up for the release of my new cyborg romance Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1), and it’s time to start posting some hot little teasers so that you know what you have to look forward to on February 21. The book is also available for pre-order on Amazon at a sale price of 99¢, so snag your copy now before it goes up to the regular price of $3.99.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. A betrayed man forced into mindless slavery. A woman willing to break all the rules to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecoverShe leaned back on her arms, letting her robe gape open at the top. His eyes darkened as the soft terrycloth material softly dragged across her nipples, teasing them. “May I see you?”

Without a word he loosened the knot in the towel and let it fall. Let her look.

Her first thought was that he reminded her of a da Vinci nude she’d once seen, every muscle developed without unnecessary bulk and giving the impression of restrained power. His chest was the same from her memories at the pool, beautifully shaped pads of pectoral muscle and shoulders ending in curved deltoids that she wanted to grip. The same light scattering of blond chest hair narrowed to a trail that led down over trim abs to his navel and beyond.

His legs were those of a runner, lean muscle and tendon rising in powerful mounds at the backs of his calves, along the length of his thighs. The hair covering them was sparser, only slightly darker than the hair on his chest, and curled against his indoor-pale skin.

Taking a deep breath, she looked at his groin. The hair darkened here, turning sandy brown and curling in a springy nest around a well-shaped cock, neatly circumcised. It had thickened a little, judging from the way it stood out from his body, but wasn’t anywhere near full erection yet.

He laughed softly. “You should see your face,” he said. “You look like all your birthdays and Christmases came at once.”

“I think they just did.” There were no scars, no obvious signs that parts of his body were artificial. “You’re perfect.”

He glanced down at himself. “I think you may be a little biased, but thank you.” He looked back at her, pupils expanding until all the light blue had been pushed into a thin ring around each black pool. “You’re the one who’s perfect.”

He came to her and knelt, gently urging her knees apart so that he could move closer. She felt a flicker of embarrassment at the thought of him seeing her 30-year-old body nude, but couldn’t resist the pressure of his hands. Her heart raced as the belt on her robe loosened, falling to each side. The terrycloth gaped open, putting her on display the same way he’d done for her.

He didn’t say anything for a minute as he looked at her. The embarrassment she’d felt earlier was gone, banished by the naked worship in his eyes. “You’re everything I ever wanted.” His voice was husky. “You’re so beautiful, baby.”

She fought back the sudden urge to cry from sheer relief. “Kiss me. Please.”

He did, his chest pressing against her breasts as he slid the robe down her arms, his mouth sweetly devouring hers. She surrendered to the delicious sensation, every brush and teasing press lighting up her nerve endings like wildfire. When his tongue trailed along the soft inner flesh of her lips she opened them, welcoming him in. Between her thighs an echoing heat built and she could feel the first traces of slick wetness there.

It was the night in the front seat of the GoCar all over again, but this time they didn’t have to stop. And it was much better than the evening in the park hotel because now he knew who she was, who he was.

His tongue danced around hers before breaking away to lick at the roof of her mouth. Liquid fire ran through her body and she moaned into his mouth.

She leaned back for a breath and heard him chuckle. “Okay, so I like that,” she muttered, amused by his smugness.

“Good. I like making you moan, baby. Plan on doing a lot of it, to be honest.” He kissed his way down to her ear, doing something wickedly good to the spot underneath it and pulling another moan out of her.

Her breasts tightened, the nipples starting to ache. Two could play that game. She ran the tip of a finger lightly around the shell of his ear, ending by gently rubbing the lobe between her finger and thumb. The shudder that went through him confirmed a direct hit.

“Wench,” he muttered against her neck. “Evil, vicious wench.”

“And that’s the way you like it.”

“Mm-hm.”


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Marvelous Monday Reads: Dragon’s Honor #freeARC

Happy Monday, folks! Today I have Michaela Kendrick on to talk about her new book Dragon’s Honor, now available from Amazon. For a FREE review copy of Dragon’s Honor, email Michaela at mkendrickauthor@gmail.com.


DragonsHonorFinal2Set in a far-distant future, the Dragon Corps Series follows the members of the Human Alliance’s most feared fighting unit. Across the vast distances of space, the Dragons maintain justice and peace.

But the cost is high. Cade Williams, a soldier with the potential to become a living legend, left the Corps after a mission that claimed not only the life of his target, a slave trader, but also the lives of every slave on the man’s ship. Vowing never again to kill, Cade has spent the last two years trying to put his past behind him. But when he finally runs out of options, it’s Talon Rift, his former commanding officer who finds him in the slums – and offers him a nice, easy job guarding Aryn Beranek, one of society’s richest woman.

Starving and desperate, Cade takes the job – and realizes the moment he sees Aryn that he’s made a terrible mistake. Not only does he want her more than he’s ever wanted anyone, her husband is the arms trafficker supplying the legendary despot known only as the Warlord of Ymir. And when the truth about her husband comes out, Aryn’s search for justice will force Cade to confront the one man he fears the most: himself.

From the slums of New Arizona to the mines of Ymir, Dragon’s Honor follows the journey of a man determined to save the only woman he has ever loved – a woman who has already decided to sacrifice herself to kill the Warlord.

Story Excerpt

“Cade Williams?”

The words came through the haze of smoke and drunkenness like a hallucination. Cade knew that voice. He was never, ever going to be able to forget that voice, and it had to be a hallucination because there was no way in hell the owner of that voice had chased him across three systems only to walk into a dive bar on the lower streets of New Arizona. So he went back to his drink.

He picked up the glass and stared at it. It was a scotch he’d been nursing for about three hours now, and not just because “scotch” seemed to be a loose term for colored grain alcohol. When he finished his drink, he had nowhere to go. And in the ever-drifting snow of New Arizona—he’d never figured out if the name was born of ignorance or irony—he needed to stay indoors as long as possible. The cold was fierce, and whatever acid was in the water on this planet, it would burn his skin raw in less than a night.

And if he didn’t get ten thousand credits to Osiris within a week, he was a dead man. But one thing at a time. Cade shook his head and let the moment slide away from him, a tiny drift into memory and nothing more.

“Williams,” the voice said again.

That was definitely not a hallucination. Cade’s eyes traveled along the arm that had come down on one side of him. Callused fingertips, last joint of the right index finger missing, the hint of a tattoo poking out from under a blue cuff. The arm underneath the suit jacket was well muscled, leading to broad shoulders and a clean-shaven jaw, and with a sinking feeling of dread, Cade looked up at one of his worst nightmares.

“Lieutenant Rift.”

“Actually, it’s Major now.” Talon’s face was expressionless, as it almost always was. He watched as Cade’s eyes traveled over the understated suit, across the planes of the handsome face. At last, sensing the question Cade would never ask, he flipped over the hand on his resting arm. There, glimmering in the faint light, were blood-red cufflinks.

A Dragon always wore red.

Talon absorbed Cade’s bitter smile in silence.

“You look surprisingly well.” Cade looked down into his scotch and considered drinking the rest in one gulp. The pours in this bar were generous, and with the alcohol being of dubious provenance, a gulp might well kill him. Right now, that wasn’t seeming so bad. It was all coming back to him—without warning, as it always did. He’d known the moment he heard the voice that this was going to be a bad night, even worse than he’d thought—and he’d already thought it would be pretty bad. There was screaming at the corner of his mind, the flashing of the lights in the bar taking on a reddish hue, the emergency exit sign too clear a reminder.

He closed his eyes, clenching his jaw until he thought his teeth would give way. He had to keep breathing, or the memories would take him, and the world would devolve into the chaotic mess he so feared, every face reminding him of the pods, the children pounding on the glass—

He was going to be sick. His stomach heaved.

“Should I go?”

“No.” Cade’s answer surprised even him. He opened his eyes and looked down into his drink again. He could force the world back into its neat shapes if he tried hard enough. In the vacuum of space, in the long silences of a courier’s job, he’d learned to face his fear and press it away.

He could face this, too.

“Okay.” Talon sat, pulled reflexively at both cuffs, and looked over at the bartender. “What won’t kill me here?”

“Don’t try the scotch.”

“Noted.”

Where to Buy

Amazon

About Michaela Kendrick

Raised on the Dragon Riders of Pern, Star Wars, Star Trek, and a whole bunch of historical romances, Michaela grew up adoring the adventure of Science Fiction and the passion of a good love story. Filled with double crossing, grand romantic gestures, sarcasm, and plenty of heat, Michaela’s books are just the sort of thing she wants to read herself!

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I’m visiting blogs, yes I am

My fellow Planet Alpha author Beth D. Carter has me on today to talk about the influences that went into Assassin and how I develop my character dynamics, so if you want to find out why Zhan is the way he is, head over to http://bethdcarter.blogspot.com/2014/10/planet-alpha-author-nicola-cameron.html.

StopTryingToBeQuietassassinpromoAnd to put a cherry on top, Assassin is currently at #20 on the All Romance eBooks Bestseller list, earned a category bestseller silver star, and is on two category bestseller lists over at Amazon. It’s also doing quite well at Bookstrand, and I’m hoping to get some reviews in soon (remember, if you read it, reviews are love!).

Right now, I’m finishing up my anthology entry for Evernight’s uniform fetish call, and then it’s back to work on Iron Cross. And for tomorrow’s Mid Week tease you’re going to get an exclusive scene from Trickster to celebrate Halloween. Woohoo!

So, Planet Alpha: Assassin is out…

assassinpromov3And after a weekend of social media promo and talking it up wherever I could, it’s on the All Romance eBooks Romance Bestseller list (currently #28) and on two category bestseller lists at Amazon, all of which makes me very happy (and people teasing me on FB about selling the movie rights and who could play Taric, Zhan, and Duncan is even more delightful. For the record, my dream cast would be Colby Keller as Taric, Paddy O’Brian as Zhan, and Levi Karter as Duncan. Cockyboys and Men.com, take note).

Of course, the annoying thing about being a writer is that you re-read your newly published works and wish to God that you could have one last crack at editing them. Nothing major, just a sentence here and there that makes you think, “Why did I phrase this so clumsily?” or “Aw, crap, I already used that word in this paragraph.” (Apparently this happens to Neil Gaiman of all people, so I don’t feel that bad about it, but still.)

And the funny thing is, almost no readers will ever comment on these little infelicities, or even notice them. It’s just the writer, that OCD perfectionist who wants his or her story polished to a high gleam before it sees the light of day, who spots the occasional smeary fingerprint and winces at it. So I just need to shut up and enjoy my sales, basically.

TWO TO TANGO on sale for 99¢ this week at Evernight

TtTDmitriBlurbv2What? You mean you haven’t read my hilarious M/M SF caper novel Two to Tango yet? I’m…well, I’m crushed. But I’m also strong, so I will dab the tears from my damask cheeks and think about it all tomorrow at Tara.

Now that I’ve finished pretending to be Scarlett O’Hara, do I have a deal for you! For the next week Two to Tango is only 99 cents at Evernight Publishing. And if that isn’t enough to persuade you, here’s a little more about the story:

Rory MacLellan, AKA the Highlander, may be the most successful interstellar art thief in the Known Worlds, but he still has a conscience. So when he runs into a suicidal museum worker during his latest job, he has no choice but to stun the man and rescue him from certain death.

Dr. Dmitri Grigoryev was an up-and-coming exoarchaeologist until a disastrous dig left his career in tatters. Hungry, broke, and desperate, the last thing he expected was a dashing thief to come along and save his life.

Thrown together by accident and with interstellar police on their tail, Rory and Dmitri reluctantly join forces for a major heist. But will their simmering attraction get in the way, or prove that they were meant to be together?