The joys of December, she said darkly
For other people, normal people who don’t have other people in their heads forcing them to write down their stories, December can be fraught. There are holidays to prepare for, gifts to buy, houses to clean, families to deal with, and all the other joys that come with a massive communally celebrated event.
For writers, we get all that plus deadlines. For instance, as of tonight I have officially pulled the trigger on the pre-orders for The Crimson and the Black (Hidden Empire Book 2), with a release date of January 25, 2022, and Crystal Shard (Paladins of Crystal Book 1) with a release date of March 15, 2022). Are the books finished? Ho ho ho—you must be jesting.
But it is a truth universally acknowledged that Nicola works best with deadlines, otherwise she’ll faff about and waste time reading social media or watching Netflix. And it’s not like this is totally impossible or I’m starting from zero. Crimson is about 1/3rd finished—if I light a fire under my butt I should be able to get the rest of it knocked out by New Year’s Eve, and the editor stands ready to take acceptance of it on January 7th after I do a fast edit. I will also be working on Shard (which is about 2/15ths finished by comparison) in parallel, but that doesn’t have to be ready until mid-February so I can focus on Crimson as necessary.
As I’ll be rapid releasing the Paladins of Crystal books starting in March with Crystal Shard, I’ll be starting Crystal Blade as soon as Crimson is done. The plan is to work on two books at the same time with the focus on the next one to be released in order to meet the release schedule:
- March 2022: Crystal Shard
- April 2022: Crystal Blade
- May 2022: Crystal Reflection
- June 2022: Crystal Citadel
- July 2022: Crystal Empress
Barring death or something bad happening to my hands, I should just about be able to pull it off. And then I’m taking August off because phoo. My writing schedule for the rest of the year will depend on what’s selling best which at the moment are the Two Thrones, Hidden Empire, and Pacifica Rising series. If that’s still the case in August, I may do Mage of Fire, To Love a Wild Swan, and Uncertainty Principle to round out 2022. And yes, I can hear the shrieks of outrage from Olympic Cove fans who are waiting patiently for the last two books in the series. All I can say right now is that I have to work on what’s profitable—if sales of Cross Current pick up, I’ll do those books instead.
But—if Paladins of Crystal does as well as I think it can, I have two related series that I can start working on in September and start off with a January 2023 rapid release schedule. My goal right now is to make $50K in income by the time 20Booksto50k 2022 starts in Vegas, and this is how I’m going to do it.
*touches fingertips together* That being said, I need help from you. I’ve found some places that advertise reverse harem romances and I’m contacting them, but if you know of any reviewers, bloggers, sites, et al that specialize in RH, please please PLEASE point me towards them. I’m going to stack promos around the release of Crystal Shard, but I want the RH fandom to be aware well before then that the book is coming out and the other four in the series will follow quickly.
So, yeah, December is gonna be a busy month for me. But I feel good about this—I have solid outlines, I know my characters well, and I’m going to do my damnedest to write some amazing romances. Let’s get ‘er done.
Fabulous Friday Reads: String of Pearls
TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with E.D. Parr’s hot new MM romance String of Pearls, now available from Evernight Publishing. Take it away, E.D!
Thank you for inviting me to your blog today with new release MM romance, String of Pearls
The story is set in the same SciFi fantasy city as last year’s release, The Dreamboat.
Indigo Vaughn, the warlock head of security, features in the story along with a new cast of characters. When I wrote The Dreamboat, I already had the new characters in my head along with their story. Tobias Mars and Dante Pepper, the elite space pilots for the royal court, very nearly made an appearance in The Dreamboat, but because that story is about Indigo at last finding love, I decided they needed their own story.
Once upon a time Dante and Tobias were close to becoming lovers, but Dante met Viridian and fell in love. Tobias has yet to meet his love when String of Pearls, opens. He’s a man of high integrity, handsome, caring, but also longing for love and sex. String of Pearls is his love story.
Handsome, elite space pilot Tobias Mars is completing a special mission when on a water planet recently ravaged by space pirates he discovers Dreft Hann hiding and injured in the sand dunes.
There’s instant attraction between the two men, but honorable Tobias believes the fact Dreft is in his care precludes him from showing his growing love for the young man. What’s worse is his shocking discovery of Dreft’s real identity. Even so, Tobias can’t deny his feelings for Dreft.
When head of royal security, powerful warlock, Indigo Vaughn discovers Dreft’s secret, he anticipates trouble. As beautiful Dreft falls in love with Tobias and dreams of joining the elite pilot squad, trouble is brewing from someone in Dreft’s past.
Will love finally win with so many obstacles in Tobias and Dreft’s path?
Tobias Mars gazed at Dreft lying on top of the bed in room ten of the infirmary. Hari’s treatment had worked wonders and not only on Dreft’s wounds. Hari had cleaned Dreft up. His hair, now a dirt-free glossy hazelnut brown was brushed back to show off the handsome planes of his face. Hari had replaced Dreft’s strange boy-like clothes with the infirmary’s grey cotton pants and t-shirt. The man was, as his colleague, Dante, put it, deliciously pretty. For a fleeting moment, Tobias wondered what it would be like to kiss those perfect lips and hold that muscular body to his own. He shook the thought away.
Dreft opened his eyes and a shy smile spread on his mouth. As Tobias neared him, he shuffled up the bed to sit. “Thank you so much for helping me, sir.”
Tobias pulled a chair beside the bed and sat. “My name’s Tobias, Tobias Mars—no need to call me sir. How are you feeling?”
The handsome man’s eyes held gratitude. “I’m so much better. Thank you. I noticed the insignia on your jacket, sir.”
Tobias grinned as his fingers went to trace the gold and blue embroidered crest. “I’m one of the queen’s pilot explorers. I guess you could call us the elite unit. All the same, call me Tobias. I’d like that.”
“I’ve heard that you have to be aristocracy to be chosen for the unit. Is that true?”
A little frown creased between Tobias’s eyes. “Have you? Where’d you hear that?” A spike of worry prevented him from answering with the truth. His intense security training from the warlock, Indigo Vaughn, threw a question into his mind. Could Dreft be a rival court’s spy or even assassin?
“Sorry. I mean no harm. I heard a lot of things during my years as a slave.” Dreft’s voice held anxiety. His blue eyes clouded.
Witnessing Dreft’s unease, a wave of kindness softened Tobias’s look and tone. “How long were you a slave?” He remembered Hari’s description of the scars on Dreft’s back.
Sadness passed in Dreft’s eyes. “Five years—I’ve been a slave since I was stolen from my home when I was eighteen. I, I’d become desperate, hence the leap from the ship when we cruised reasonably low to take water from the lake on the planet where you rescued me.” His voice cracked a little.
Tobias watched fear replace the sadness in the young man’s eyes. He wanted to lighten the mood. “Hey, are you hungry? I bet Hari hasn’t given you breakfast and I’ve not eaten yet. Do you feel up to a little walk? My home isn’t far. I have loads of food—fruit, pancakes, savory pastries, and coffee. What do you say?”
Dreft gave him the most endearing look. “I’m very hungry.”
Tobias stood and pushed the chair away from the bed. He held out his arm for Dreft to take and helped him stand. “Hang on. You have no shoes.” Tobias left Dreft perched on the side of the bed. He went to the closet inset at the end of the wall and brought back a pair of felt slip-ons for Dreft.
Dreft pushed his feet into them. “Thank you. I think the medicA threw away what I was wearing.”
“Hari is the best medicA available. I trust him implicitly, but he’s a hygiene fanatic. He probably burned what you were dressed in.” Tobias laughed. “Can you manage or will you take my arm. It’s a gesture of support.”
Dreft’s gaze raked Tobias’s face and he smiled softly. “I know the clothes you found me in probably gave you the impression I’m a pirate’s plaything. I’d like to explain—”
“You don’t need to—” Tobias hurried to assure Dreft.
“I want to.” He held Tobias’s arm.
“After you’ve eaten, then.” Tobias led the way from the room, along the corridor and out of the infirmary door. His villa was two doors down from Dante’s and he walked slowly favoring Dreft’s halting steps.
“I’m limping but Hari said my legs were only bruised under the abrasions. Sorry. I didn’t expect them to hurt so much. My ribs don’t and they were broken.”
“Hari fixed your ribs and administered slow release pain reliever at the site. He fixed your abrasions somewhat, but it’s good to heal naturally where possible. He wants you to rest.” A smile sprang to Tobias’s lips. “If he sees us, he’ll probably say to me, ‘Sir, you got Dreft Hann up too soon.’”
Where to Buy
Evernight | Amazon | Bookstrand | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords
About the Author
E.D. Parr loves the countryside where story ideas spring to mind easily. A romantic, E.D. sees beauty in most things.
Evernight Publishing | Twitter | Amazon | Blog | Google + | Manic Readers | The Romance Reviews | Facebook
Wicked Wednesday Reads: Hidden Cargo
Happy Wednesday, folks! Today I’m here with Sarah Marsh and her hot new SF romance Hidden Cargo (Alien Captors 2), now available from Evernight Publishing and other online sellers. Take it away, Sarah!
No good deed goes unpunished—or at least it doesn’t for Cassie Decker. Stopping to help someone on the side of the road was the decision that changed the rest of her life, and the one that found her stranded on an alien planet. Lucky for her, she was discovered by two very large, and very green rescuers that offered her a second chance at a new life. All she has to do is find the courage to reach out and grab it.
Deryc and Gage have a comfortable life on the island of Ilya, it may not be perfect, but they enjoy their work and they have each other. When fate reveals an unauthorized female has been hiding right under their noses for over a year, they know they must do their duty to bring her to their government—but can they hand her over to an unknown future when she just might be the perfect female for their clan?
The Goddess works in mysterious ways, but will Cassie and her officers realize what they have found before someone tries to alter their paths forever?
Cassie washed up and changed into a nightgown as Dax settled comfortably at the foot of her bed. She turned out the light and walked over to open a window, letting the fresh air in. She’d always loved falling asleep to the sound of the ocean. Two deep voices entered on the breeze along with the sounds of the surf, causing a shiver to run up her spine, and she realized that Deryc and Gage must still be on the patio enjoying the evening. Cassie sat on the window ledge and waited for her eyes to adjust to the darkness outside. When they did, the sight before her was nothing short of decadent.
Both men were lounging on one of the large patio chairs. Deryc’s arm was around Gage’s shoulder, and his other hand cupped the other man’s cheek as he took his mouth in a slow and sensual kiss. Her breath caught in her throat as she watched Gage’s hand move leisurely up his partner’s thigh until he rubbed along the thick, hard ridge of Deryc’s arousal.
I shouldn’t be watching this, like some kind of pervert… I’m invading their privacy, but holy hell, I think this is the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.
Knowing it was wrong and willing her eyes to close were two very different things, and Cassie had to bite her lip as Deryc’s deep voice came to her on the night breeze.
“I believe you owe me a proper show of gratitude, my mate.” Deryc growled as Gage’s fingers freed the thick cock from the confines of his partner’s pants. “Or did you forget you promised me that this morning?”
“Hmm.” Gage lazily kissed along Deryc’s jaw, his hand now slowly stroking up and down his lover’s cock. “Did I say that? I can’t remember now…”
Deryc’s response was immediate, and it made Cassie gasp as he pulled away and moved to cover the other man until Gage’s wrists were held above his head in each of his strong hands, and Deryc was now straddling his mate’s hips. In the moonlight, Cassie could see his cock jutting straight from his body, the thick length an even darker shade of grey than the rest of him. He towered over Gage like an avenging god.
“Keep your arms above your head, boy.” Deryc’s tone was unforgiving now, and by the look of the large bulge in Gage’s own pants, he enjoyed this game of dominance as much as his mate did. Cassie had never experimented with any BDSM play with Peter, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t thought or fantasized about it before, and now that she had a front-row seat, her body flooded with heat at the idea of being on the submissive end of Deryc’s firm authority just like Gage was now.
Deryc’s hands released Gage and began to undress, revealing his muscular body, the dark skin seeming to almost sparkle in the moonlight. Then he began the same process of removing Gage’s clothing, and the other man bit his lip, but left his arms where they were.
“Cassie could still be awake.” Gage’s words turned into a groan as Deryc’s hand now closed around his shaft, rubbing a glistening bead of moisture over the plump head. “What if she sees?”
“Mmm, think about that, my love.” Deryc’s hand moved faster on his lover’s flesh. “Just imagine those stunning blue eyes, her gaze roving over your hard and aching flesh like a caress. Perhaps she would like to join us even? I see now why you were so enamored with her when you first spotted her. She is quite remarkable.”
Gage only moaned louder at Deryc’s words, his hips pushing harder into the other man’s grip, causing a warm chuckle to escape his mate’s lips. “I see how much you like that idea, love. I can feel your cock buck in my grip as if it were trying to get inside of her even now.”
Holy fuck! Were they fantasizing about her? This time Cassie couldn’t stifle the groan as her pussy flooded at the idea of being out there on that couch with them, and it was so loud she startled herself, jumping back from the window in case her hosts heard it as well.
She needed that shock back to reality. “Jesus, Cassie, what is wrong with you?”
She didn’t want to think she was the kind of person who couldn’t control her own urges, but the fact that she hadn’t been able to help herself from watching Gage and Deryc’s intimate display meant they had much more power over her than she’d thought. Good grief, all she could hope for at this point is that they hadn’t heard her at all.
Pervy, sex-starved human … table for one, please.
Where to Buy
Evernight Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Bookstrand | Smashwords | iTunes
About the Author
Sarah Marsh was born in British Columbia, she has only recently began her writing career finding it the perfect outlet for taking the edge off a nine to five office job. She’s been a science fiction and romance junkie for years and when her imagination started to take the characters she’d read about even further in their adventures she decided to try writing something of her own.
Sarah’s also a former pastry chef and spends a lot of time cooking and baking for friends and family as well as painting and knitting. Her biggest weaknesses are animals of any kind…she even loves the ones that wake you up at four in the morning because they can almost see the bottom of their food dish.
When it comes to life in general she’s a big believer that laughter is the best medicine and that there’s no such thing as too much love, which is why she’s such a sucker for a happy ending.
Website/Blog/ | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook Street Team
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Mid Week Tease: Uncertainty Principle #MidWeekTease #MWTease
Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with the opening to Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2). It picks up a few weeks after the end of Degree of Resistance, and follows Evie and Ben as they try to adjust to life with each other outside the Pacifica Protectorate. Needless to say, their relationship is about to get complicated, particularly when Ben starts having flashbacks to his time as a brainwashed Osiris Corps agent. This teaser isn’t very sexy, but don’t worry — hot times are acomin’, yes they are!
Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!
The office wasn’t as nearly luxurious as visitors expected it to be. The walls were smooth white plaster interspersed with hand-width bands of stone ranging from olive to gold, all of it native to the West Coast. A few tasteful pieces of art had been placed here and there, lit by overhead LED spotlights; a Hopi Kachina figure, a shimmering beaded fiber sculpture from Keller’s Siren period, Bernini’s marble bust of Medusa. The floor was a prosaic pine that had been stripped and sealed with a polish that gave it nigh-diamond hardness. It looked more like the office of a corporation CFO, perhaps, or a Shareholder who had reached the age where she didn’t need to show off her wealth anymore.
Which was why John Ballardie liked it. Staying one step ahead of people’s expectations was not only something he enjoyed, but helped to keep both his political allies and enemies on their toes.
What he didn’t enjoy was having those same tables turned on him. “What do you mean, Song Lin’s body is still missing?” he asked.
His personal assistant Eve stood in front of his desk, unflappable in her custom business wear and red-framed SmartSpex. “Her body was never found after the attack on Gold Rush. It was assumed to have been,” she paused, making a polite face, “rendered unrecoverable. The investigation was closed when Song Dae-Jung had his sister declared officially dead. The park officials were eager to repair the damage and reopen, so they went along with Mr. Song’s wishes.”
This wasn’t the first time Song Dae-Jung had tried to sneak a private interest under the board’s nose. He’d thought the man had learned his lesson by now, but apparently that wasn’t the case. “Have the investigation re-opened. It doesn’t stop until they find a body. In fact, have them keep an eye out for her bodyguard and PA as well. I don’t care what Song says—I doubt his sister’s dead. She’s too damn smart for that.”
Eve’s SmartSpex flickered as the thin layer coating the inside of the lenses tracked her eye movements and translated them into computer commands. “There’s another issue, sir. Benjamin Drake is also missing.”
He felt himself grow still. “From where?”
“Gold Rush, sir.”
Annoyance and suspicion flash-heated into rage. “What in God’s name was he doing there?”
“There was a request to have Osiris personnel assigned to Gold Rush as security,” his PA said. “Mainly due to the number of Shareholders and other notables scheduled to attend the anniversary celebration. General Camden approved it and Drake was sent to the park. According to park records Drake’s chancellor was upgraded with a new persona after his transfer and he was assigned a street character. Tracking records show that he was in the Palais Hotel at the time of the attack, but his body hasn’t been located in the debris, either.”
A missing Shareholder who was sister to one of the most powerful board members in Pacifica was bad enough. To have Drake go missing from the same location at the same time—the situation stank to high heaven. “I want Camden here today,” Ballardie ground out. “I don’t care where she is or what she’s doing. She’s in my office before midnight.”
Eve blinked and her SmartSpex lightened momentarily. “She’s at the Eugene Toyshop. I’ll summon her immediately.”
He dismissed the PA with a curt nod. Alone, he stood and went to the only window in the office, a western exposure where he could see the bulk of downtown Redding at a glance. 30 stories below, the wide blue band of the Sacramento River was barely visible against the thick greenery of the parks on either bank of the river. If the city wasn’t covered by a dome he’d be able to see the mountains of the Shasta Cascade off to the west from this elevation.
He didn’t need this now, not with Alhambra so close to completion. Camden would simply have to turn the protectorate upside down and shake until his missing citizens—or their bodies—dropped out.
Flashes in the dark. The yellow cruciate rose of old-fashioned automatic weapons, and the bluish glow of modern bolt rifles. One side was better equipped than the other, but it didn’t mean the weaker side was going to give up.
Not until the last one of them was dead. And they would die. Those were his orders, and he would follow them.
He walked through the darkness, night goggles betraying the sullen silhouettes of the desert landscape. On either side were other soldiers in identical armor, his siblings in arms. They were there to serve the good of the Pacifica Protectorate. And the good of the protectorate called for the destruction of this enemy camp.
A form darted across his field of vision. It didn’t meet the parameters of those who must be protected. Enemy. He brought his rifle up and fired. The form toppled over, momentum giving it one last step on its path before gravity tumbled it to the ground.
He marched to the now-still body, finger on the rifle’s trigger in case it was a trick. But his aim had been good. A black, burnt hole the size of a golf ball adorned the ragged jacket on the enemy’s back between the shoulder blades.
He kicked the body over. Now-blind eyes stared at the night sky. He estimated the enemy’s age to be between twelve and fourteen. Parameters satisfied, he rejoined the other soldiers on their advance through the camp as they continued to kill the enemy. Those were his orders. He would follow them—
Ben jerked up, a muffled scream rasping in his throat. Cold sweat covered the parts of his body that could still produce perspiration, and his chest ached from the rapid thudding beat of his heart.
Fuck. It was a dream. Just a bad dream.
He lay back down and closed his eyes, rubbing at the sockets until they made soft clicking noises. It didn’t help. In his mind he could still see the dead boy sprawled in the rocky dust, face turned to the heavens as if expecting a savior to arrive.
But there hadn’t been a savior. Only the Osiris Corps following orders.
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Wicked Wednesday Reads: Rena and the Alien Warrior
Whee, it’s Wednesday! Never fear, for today I’m here with Jessica Coulter Smith and her hot new SF romance romance Rena and the Alien Warrior, now available from Changeling Press and other online sellers. Take it away, Jessica!
Rena was sold into slavery at the age of fifteen, ripped away from her home and a loving father, and cast into a life of pain and horror. Despite the abuse she’s suffered through years of slavery, she counts herself lucky that no one has ever touched her intimately. When she angers her current owner, and he gives her to a purple alien as a gift, she isn’t sure if this next stage of her life will be a blessing or a curse. After five years as a captive, she’s too beaten to believe she’ll have a happily-ever-after. Who could ever fall in love with a woman as badly damaged as her? Even the purple alien called Ryx doesn’t seem all that interested.
Beren has avoided females at all costs. His scarred body and damaged ear don’t make for a very handsome male. When his commander, Ryx, brings a human female on board their ship, Beren is curious yet cautious. Like him, Rena has wounds on both the outside and inside. For the first time, Beren wonders if maybe there’s a female after all who will look past his exterior to see his warrior heart, and not someone broken and pitiful. Her courage and strength appeal to him, and yet she’s so soft and small that his protective urges rise to the surface. Whether Beren gets to claim her or not, he vows that he will lay down his life for Rena and protect her at all costs. He just never realized that in doing so he would end up with what he wanted most – her.
Beren scowled at Ryx. “You did what?”
“I’ve procured a female slave from Frih,” his commander said. “A human.”
Beren smacked his bad ear, certain he’d misheard. The heat from the weapon that had removed the top half seemed to have damaged his hearing as well. But poor hearing or not, he couldn’t have just heard his commander say he’d purchased a slave. If the council found out, the punishment would be severe. Zelthranites did not keep slaves, especially females. And most definitely not humans! If Earth’s government thought for one moment a Zelthranite had taken a human slave, not only would their agreement be forfeit, but likely a war would start.
Ryx snorted. “You didn’t mishear me. Her name is Rena, and she was given to me by Frih as a gift. It was supposed to be for one night, but I arranged to keep her permanently.”
“So, you bedded her, and now you’re going to claim her?” Beren asked, feeling slightly better about the situation. It was one thing to take a mate, and another to keep a slave. But if the commander were to claim the female…
“I didn’t sleep with her,” Ryx said.
Beren blinked and stared. “You didn’t bed her. But you’re keeping her. As what?”
“I thought she might find a mate on our world, or possibly on this ship. None of us are mated, and she seems pretty enough, despite the damage done to her by her various owners.” The commander grimaced, and his gaze dropped.
Damage? What was that supposed to mean? From the commander’s reaction, Beren wondered how badly the female had been harmed. He thought of his many injuries, the physical and emotional pain he’d been through, and wondered what had happened to the female during her captivity. He knew that some slave owners could be cruel, and he wondered if the male Ryx was here to see was one of them. If the male was dealing in human females, could they honestly do business with him in the future? Even if Frih did manage to get weapons they didn’t have the connections to purchase anywhere else, was it really worth it? They were just providing him with the means to buy more females, and Beren felt sick at the thought. Living beings, of any type, should never be kept like property. If Ryx had known all this time that Frih was purchasing slaves, how could he live with himself?
“I’m bringing her on board as soon as she wakes,” Ryx said. “I just have to decide where I’m placing her. With a full crew, I don’t exactly have extra space on board right now.”
“You have the largest quarters on board,” Beren said. “And the largest bed.”
Ryx growled. “I told you that I’m not claiming her.”
Beren frowned. He wanted to ask if the commander wasn’t claiming the female because of her slave status, because of the damage done to her, or was he just not attracted to her? Females were so precious to their people that receiving one as a gift wasn’t something to take lightly, and yet the commander was giving the female up to another male? She would no longer be a slave, but a mate, respected and cherished. Beren wasn’t certain how he felt about it. As someone who wasn’t wanted, it made him angry on her behalf. Females should be cherished and cared for, not cast aside.
“Fine. Then we can put a cot in your room. She can sleep there until we reach Zelthrane-3. After that, perhaps the council will put her up in the apartments where the potential brides stay. Then she would be around others like her.”
“Not quite what? Not like the others? You said she’s human. And female. What makes her different from the females living in the apartments?”
Ryx nodded. “Yes, she’s a human female, but she doesn’t remember Earth. I think she was taken when she was a small child. For whatever reason, a male on Vaaden raised her as his daughter, until a female from that world sold Rena into slavery.”
Beren ran a hand down his face. “You get yourself into the most complicated issues. So you have a human female, who doesn’t remember Earth, and was likely a slave on Vaaden without her even realizing it? I’ve never heard of those males capturing children to raise as their offspring. When they take human females, it’s for their harems or personal property. You don’t think he was keeping her until she was old enough to…”
Ryx paled and looked like he might be sick. Beren felt much the same way. It was horrific to think such a thing could happen, but with societies who thrived on slavery, anything was possible. He’d heard that human males often claimed they’d get sick if they didn’t have sex, as way to coerce their partners, but in the case of Vaaden males it was true. The need for females was understandable, but Beren hated that they used sex slaves to maintain their health.
“I promised once we were on our way home that I would reach out to Kryon and let him know that Rena is safe,” Ryx said. “But if your speculation is correct, he could cause a problem.”
Beren snorted. “Even if he truly was raising her as his daughter, you don’t think he’ll have an issue with her being taken to our world as a potential mate? What if he already has a male lined up to claim her? You know the Vaadens have a tendency to arrange their mating for business or social standing. With her being human, she could handle a male’s physical needs, unlike the Vaaden females. If she was honestly like a daughter to him, then there is most likely a male who thought she would be his one day.”
“This is…” Ryx sighed.
“To borrow an Earth saying. It’s fucked up, that’s what it is.”
Ryx barked out a laugh. “You’re not wrong.”
Where to Buy
About the Author
Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child writing her first stories in crayon. Today she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and she firmly believes that love will find you at the right time, even if Mr. Right is literally out of this world.
Website | Other Books
Marvelous Monday Reads: Heidi and the Alien Cop
Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, angels! You know how much I love SF romance, so today I’m featuring Jessica Coulter Smith and her new SF romance Heidi and the Alien Cop (Intergalactic Brides #12), now available from Changeling Press. Take it away, Jessica!
Heidi’s life hasn’t been easy since she dropped out of school at sixteen to have a baby. The worst mistake she ever made was moving in with her boyfriend Brent, who turned out to be an abusive bastard, but with no education and no job, there’s nowhere for her to go. Her life for the last five years has disillusioned her that happily-ever-after could possibly exist… Then he comes into her life.
When Raylic rushes to Heidi’s aid, the last thing he expects is to end up with house guests, but she and her small son, Shane, are just what he needs. They bring life to his monstrous home and make him want things better left alone. But the more time he spends with the little family, the more he wants to keep them with him forever. Even knowing Heidi is pregnant with another man’s child doesn’t stop him from wanting to claim her.
Heidi knows Raylic is one of the good guys, but can she dare trust her heart to someone again? He’s everything she’s ever wanted, but she knows wanting and having aren’t the same thing.
Heidi hoped like hell that Shane had gotten out of the house. She hadn’t heard the door open or shut but prayed her little boy had run to safety and not stayed to help her. Despite his young age, he acted like her protector when his dad got mad, which was far too often.
She placed a protective hand over her stomach as she cowered in the corner of the room. Brent towered over her, his face flush from too much alcohol and the rage that was burning in his veins. It wasn’t the first time he’d struck her, and she knew it wouldn’t be the last, unless she finally managed to escape. But where would she go? Without a job, or friends, or family, only the streets waited for her and their small son.
“Everyone was talking tonight about how you’ve been whoring around behind my back,” Brent said, spit flying from his lips.
“Brent, please. You know how rumors are around here.” She swallowed the knot of fear in her throat. She’d learned the hard way that fighting back only made it worse. When she fought back, it pushed him to the point of nearly killing her, and she had to keep living to take care of their son. She couldn’t leave him in Brent’s hands. Either her boyfriend would kill him, or he’d turn her sweet boy into a monster.
“Stupid, lying bitch. Did you think I wouldn’t hear about it? I bet that brat in your belly isn’t even mine. Who’s to say the other little snot is mine either? You just saw a meal ticket and latched on.”
“Of course, it’s yours, Brent. They both are. You know I haven’t been with anyone else.”
He backhanded her across the face again, an explosion of pain ricocheting through her cheek and rattling her brain. Another blow landing in almost the same spot nearly knocked her off her feet. She had just braced herself on the wall when another fist pummeled her stomach. Heidi cried out, her hands clutching her belly, hoping he hadn’t harmed their child. She’d tried damn hard not to get pregnant a second time by him, but the condom had broken two months ago.
She saw his hand wind back for another blow and cowered down, but it never came.
“I know humans play by different rules, but where I come from, we don’t beat females,” a deep voice said with a hint of a growl.
Heidi’s eyes went wide as she looked around Brent at the purple alien with the badge clipped to his belt. Was he a real cop or one of those Terran guards? He knocked Brent’s legs out from under him, then pressed him face first onto the floor, wrenching Brent’s hands behind his back. Her drunken boyfriend was no match for the rather brawny guy manhandling him. The alien slapped cuffs on Brent, then pulled out a cell phone.
“Dispatch, this is Officer Raylic. Can you send a car around to pick up some trash I found beating a female?”
She didn’t hear what else was said as the room spun around her. Heidi sank to her knees and tried to process what was happening. Had someone really come to her rescue? How had he known where to find her? A small hand slipped into hers, and she looked into the terrified eyes of her son.
“I found a police officer, Mama. He’ll take care of us, won’t he?” Shane asked, looking more troubled than a five-year-old had any right to.
“Are you all right?” the officer asked her.
“I don’t know. He hit me in the stomach and the face.”
Shane’s face scrunched up. “What about the baby?”
“You have a baby?” the officer asked.
“In her tummy,” Shane told him.
The officer cursed. Brent took his moment of distraction to rear up and lunge at Heidi, a murderous glint in his eyes. She jumped to her feet and lashed out at him, kicking him in the shin and hitting him in the eye. The officer made a grab for him and shoved him back down. Brent fell face first onto the floor, getting a mouthful of nasty carpet. Heidi had to admit that it had felt damn good to fight back for once.
Heidi approached her boyfriend. With a well-placed kick between his splayed legs, she had him howling and cursing her all at the same time. She felt a bit of satisfaction, knowing she’d caused him pain, but it wasn’t enough. She looked at the officer who regarded her with a bit of mirth for attacking her abuser.
“Want to have another go at him?” the officer asked.
“What I’d like to do is beat him over the head, with a cast-iron skillet, until he can’t ever hurt anyone again.”
He nodded. “I probably would get into a bit of trouble if I let you do that. But feel free to kick him again. It’s just his word against mine.”
She looked at her bare feet. “It might contaminate my foot if I kick him there again. I’ve always heard if someone accuses you of cheating, they’re probably the one with the guilty conscience. No telling where he’s put that thing.”
The officer chuckled a bit. “As soon as backup arrives to take care of him, I’m going to take you somewhere safe. We’ll stop by the Terran Station first though. I want our healer to look at you. As small as you are, he could have easily broken bones or caused internal damage.”
“Thank you for helping us,” she said. “No one’s ever helped us before.”
He frowned. “Have you called the police before now?”
She nodded. “The officer who answered the call said I was overly emotional and it was just a domestic dispute. He said if he got another call, he would haul both of us to jail. It was the first and last time I asked for help.”
“Asshole,” the officer muttered. “Do you remember who it was? I’ll make sure he’s written up.”
He nodded. “I can see him saying something like that. Don’t worry. Your husband is getting locked up this time.”
“We’re not married,” she said.
“Good. Then you can make a clean break when he’s taken out of here today. Do you plan to stay in this apartment?” he asked, looking around.
She knew what he’d see. Cracked walls, stained carpets, and the ugliest furniture imaginable. The place reeked of mildew and piss, and unfortunately for her, the rent was past due. It might not have been much, but it had been home for the last year. As often as they’d been late, no way the landlord would renew the lease. Not that she could pay it anyway.
“Where are we gonna go, Mama?” Shane asked.
“I don’t know, baby.”
The officer tilted his head. “Go pack your things. I was going to take you to a hotel for the night to give you some time to think things through, but it sounds like you need a more permanent solution.”
“The rent is past due here,” she said. “I don’t have a job to pay for a hotel room. Could you take us to a shelter?”
“Don’t worry about the cost,” he said in a soothing tone. “Just pack your things and be ready to go as soon as possible. Don’t leave anything behind that you want to keep.”
Where to Buy
Amazon | Changeling Press | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes
About the Author
Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child. Her first stories may have been written in crayon, but now she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and spills over from her professional life into her personal one. When she went on that first date with her husband, she never expected to hear the words “marry me” pop out of his mouth–and judging by the shocked look on his face, he hadn’t meant to say them either. But, being the hopeless romantic that she is, Jessica said yes and they’ve been married since 2000.
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Fabulous Friday Reads: Ella and the Alien Gamer
TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with Jessica Coulter Smith’s new romance Ella and the Alien Gamer, now available from Changeling Press and other purveyors of fine online romance. Take it away, Jessica!
This Prince Charming is going after what he wants, even if Cinderella is playing hard to get.
Ella has had a hard life as a single mom who barely makes ends meet. But she’s never once asked for help, and she never would. When Valero barrels into her life asking for things she’s not ready to give, she holds herself back. Mostly. The thought of taking the sexy alien to bed is more than a little tempting … except he’s playing hard to get.
Valero has wanted a mate ever since he was old enough to think of having a family of his own. He’s never thought of claiming a female with a child in tow, but Connor’s amazing gaming skills intrigue the video game designer. Asking the small family to move in with him seems reasonable enough since he plans to claim them as his, but Ella’s commitment issues prove to be a problem.
What’s a geeky gamer to do when the Cinderella of his dreams wants sex, but nothing else?
Valero growled as he jabbed at the buttons on the controller. Rory and her damned dragons! When she’d said she couldn’t beat this level, he’d thought it would be a piece of cake. How hard could a game be that centered around an adolescent purple dragon? Harder than fuck, that’s how hard.
“Bust the gem, turn the wheel,” he muttered as he went through the steps. Little green things attacked him. “Argh. Die, you little bastards!”
“My mama will wash your mouth out with soap,” said a small voice.
He glanced to his right and nearly dropped the controller when he saw a small human child. Where the hell had he come from?
“You’re doing that wrong,” the boy said.
No shit. That was why he’d been trying to put out the fires for the last half hour without success. What the hell did the small child know about it though? He held out the controller.
“Since you seem to know what you’re doing, want to show me how it’s done?” Valero asked.
The boy grinned from ear to ear, snatched the controller, and started playing with the finesse of an advanced gamer.
“How the hell did you know where the buckets were?” Valero asked.
“Soap,” the boy replied in response to his bad word. Apparently hell wasn’t allowed either. “And I have this game at home. I beat it on the second day. I probably would have done it sooner, but Mama wouldn’t let me stay up playing all night.”
The boy beat the level and handed the controller back.
“What other games can you play?” Valero asked. He’d never met such a young gamer before and he had to admit he was a little fascinated. He hadn’t even known such a small human could play video games.
“I have Minecraft, Sonic, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Star Wars, and a few others.”
“What about Halo or Gears of War?” Valero asked.
“Mama says they’re too violent for me. But I wish I could play them. The kid games are too easy. I don’t see why the adults are the only ones being challenged.”
Valero’s eyebrows went up. A challenging children’s game? Was there a market for such a thing? Unless this child was a gaming prodigy, then there were probably others out there feeling his same frustration. Definitely something worth looking into.
“What types of challenges would you like to see in a game?” Valero asked.
“Well, I like the time challenges where you have to complete so many tasks in a certain amount of time. I like the fighting levels in Lego Star Wars. But collecting stuff like the rings in Sonic or the gems in Spyro can be fun. I just wish you could do more with it.”
The kid was rather insightful for someone so young. And he was giving Valero an idea. His game company was still in the fledgling stages and he needed something new and edgy to put him on the map. Or so he’d thought. Maybe he was looking at the wrong demographic. He’d been thinking of a game adults would like where you blew up stuff, but if gamers were starting out as young as this kid, children who weren’t allowed to play the more violent games, then maybe he needed to tap into that audience. The only problem was that his game testers were Rory and Zwyk, and neither would be able to give him the information he needed.
“He’s not bothering you, is he?” a soft voice asked.
Valero stood and faced the woman, and damn near swallowed his tongue.
Where to Buy
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo
About the Author
Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child writing her first stories in crayon. Today she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and spills over from her professional life into her personal one. When she went on that first date with her husband, she never expected to hear the words “marry me” pop out of his mouth — and judging by the shocked look on his face, he hadn’t meant to say them either. But, being the hopeless romantic that she is, Jessica said yes and they’ve been married since 2000.
Jessica firmly believes that love will find you at the right time, even if Mr. Right is literally out of this world. She’s often gazed at the stars and wondered what, or who, else might be out there. Who’s to say that hunky model on the hottest romance bestseller isn’t really from some far off galaxy? Maybe that blue Martian you saw at Halloween wasn’t really in costume. After all, there’s an awful lot of space out there for us to be the only ones living in it.
Find more Changeling Press books by Jessica Coulter Smith at http://www.changelingpress.com/author.php?uid=144.
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Want to win a Kindle Fire? Of course you do!
Do you like sci fi romance? Do you have a hankering for a new Kindle Fire? Then do I have a contest for you!
BookSweeps is holding an awesome giveaway where you can win my book Degree of Resistance, plus books from authors like Evangeline Anderson and Cara Bristol, as well as a new Kindle Fire. This giveaway ends on May 1, so make sure you hurry and enter here — bit.ly/sfr-apr-17. Good luck!
80K the Hard Way: Day Three
Okay, Day Three and I’m already behind but I had a really, really good reason. I’m not going to discuss it in extreme detail here because, frankly, it was pretty disgusting. Let us just say that access to a bathroom was required for the bulk of the day and I feel positively empty at the moment.
That being said, note that I DID get some wordage in, so there.
Anyway, today’s stats:
Started With: 5,714 words
Wrote: 636 words
Total word count: 6,350 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Cleaned up the downstairs bathroom because, yeah, it was sort of necessary.
Writing Tips: Even if you don’t hit your daily word quota, it’s cool. Some words are better than no words at all. If you only write 500 words a day, that’s 15,000 words give or take in a month, and 91,000 words in half a year. Hell, at that rate you could churn out two books a year, which is nothing to sneeze at. So sit down and toss some words into your story, even if all you add is a sentence or two. You’ll be glad you did.
80K the Hard Way: Day Two
Well, this turned out to be a day where I pretty much shuttled between Uncertainty Principle and Shifter Woods: Howl when I wasn’t vacuuming, food shopping, or turfing the damn cats off my lap. The one pictured above is particularly determined and will jump onto the table where I put my laptop when I’m not working in order to sneak a paw onto my lap desk. I push it off, and she’ll wait a moment before sneaking it back on. If I don’t push it off (because I’m, you know, working), she’ll take that as a sign to try and climb on either the lap desk or me. She did get cuddles and scritches today because I’m not a complete monster, but man, she would live ON me if it was at all possible.
About the book — Evie gets back to quarters early and finds Ben packing an overnight bag. He has to go off base to accompany a team that’s picking up scavenged goods from one of their regular suppliers. She’s a little worried because she knows that he’s having nightmares, but has no idea how to broach the subject because he keeps telling her he’s fine. Plus she’s just been seconded to Project Rubicon and is learning stuff that is curling her hair a little bit, but she can’t discuss it with Ben because he’s not cleared for that level of security. There’s a reason why I called this one Uncertainty Principle, you know. There might be also be a sex scene at the end of this chapter, I’m not sure yet.
Started With: 3,043 words
Wrote: 2,666 words
Total word count: 5,714 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: The usual cat chores, obtained the makings for Italian wedding soup, vacuumed the living room, dusted some picture frames, and edited Shifter Woods: Howl.