Jennifer’s review of From the Shadows by LJ Stock

Title: From The Shadows

Author: LJ Stock

Genre: paranormal romance, fantasy

Stars: 5🛍🛍🛍🛍🛍

I love this book, these characters and this world! I don’t think I even have the right words to express my feelings. I was so excited to have an advanced copy of this book. It definitely didn’t let me down! The first couple of chapters were catching up on Cass’s new life as a princess and a refresher for what happened in book one. By chapter three I was thrown in the action and drama of an ambush and Cass’s capture and captivity by bad guys. This story flowed beautifully and was extremely well written. I could picture the characters and scenes as if I was there. I could feel the emotions of the characters in every word written. LJ Stock is an amazing author with an absolute gift for painting a scene and drawing my feelings to the surface. I adore Cass and Damon, and Mortisali so so much! I do hope there is a book three so I can walk in Mortisali again!

**I received an advanced copy for an honest review**

Jennifer’s review of Parallel by L.J. Stock

Title: Parallel book 1 of the Mortisalian Saga

Author: L.J. Stock

Genre : paranormal romance,  fantasy

Stars: 5🛍🛍🛍🛍🛍

Parallel is the first book I have read by this author as well as the first book in the Mortisalian Saga. Cass was put into a mental facility by her parents at the age of 17. The book begins 7 years later with her still in the same hospital. She hears and see things, mostly war, through water.  A nurse is dragging her through the hospital to the shower. What follows is a fantastical story filled with tales of the gods, mythical beings, other realms, battles and so much more. The story is extremely well written and flows beautifully. I loved the characters so much. I love how important each and every character is. None of them were tossed aside and forgotten. The importance may be that someone is a friend or a helper, and they may only be in bits of the book but the author made them unforgettable. There is a love story here but the main focus is the actual story itself. I think Saga is definitely a wonderful word to use for this series. Parallel is an amazing read that pulled at my heart, had me laughing, and at times cursing the stubborn characters. This is a beautiful read full of hope. I am so excited to read book two!

**received an advanced copy for an honest review**

Worship Me by Chelle Bliss

From USA Today bestselling author, Chelle Bliss, comes the seventh book in the Men of Inked series. James and Izzy return on May 9th and they’re hotter than ever. Don’t miss the next installment in the Men of Inked series.

James Caldo needs to control everything in his life, even his wife, Izzy Gallo. But she’s headstrong and has a need to test her husband’s limits as much as he pushes hers.

When a case at ALFA Private Investigation takes a dark turn, James is forced to get Izzy involved in an undercover sting, and the assignment will test her sexual boundaries as well as the very foundation of their relationship.

Can Izzy hold her tongue long enough to keep them both safe? Or will her unwillingness to fully submit draw the eye of the very man they’re after?

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EXCERPT

“Izzy, please. Be reasonable.”

I loved when James begged. “Say it again,” I taunted him.

What the fuck with the be reasonable comment? I’m always reasonable. Okay, maybe that isn’t entirely true. I usually shoot from the hip and save the apologies for later. My big mouth has gotten me into more trouble over the years, and much of it I try to forget, especially when it comes to James.

He arched an eyebrow, and the same shitty smirk that I’d grown accustomed to flashed across his lips. “I could make you say yes.­”

“Doubtful.” I glared at him, feeling supercocky even though I was in no position to be.

James, my loving husband of over ten years, decided that tonight was a good time to tie me to the bed. I should’ve known he was up to no good because it’d been more than a little bit since he’d used restraints during sex. I figured we were just getting our kink on and that he wanted to try something new, but nope, the bastard knew I wouldn’t like what he was asking and made sure I didn’t have an out.

“Baby,” he whispered, running his thumbs across my bottom lip and trying to seduce me. “You know you can’t say no to me. Never have and never will.”

There were very few people in this world that could make me do anything, but James had a power over me since the first night I met him. Saying no to him had always been damn near impossible, and I almost hated myself because of it.

I never wanted to be that girl—the one who caved to anything her husband asked. Never in my life had I wanted to be her, an easy mark and a carpet for her husband to walk all over, but things don’t always turn out the way we plan. I learned that the hard way.

James wasn’t even on my radar until the night of Joe and Suzy’s wedding when he sauntered in with his good looks and charm. The arrogant bastard seemed to work me like he’d known me my entire life, and I fell for it.

I thought I’d won when I snuck out. I figured I’d never see him again, so what did it matter. Boy, was I wrong.

“I’ve said no to you plenty of times.” I refused to let him use his sexual prowess, which I’d done in the past, but sometimes I had to dig my heels in and find my inner bitch.

I pulled at the restraints and tried to break free, but it was useless. The man could tie the most wicked knots, and it had been years since I’d been able to wiggle out of them. Every time I escaped, he’d learn a new technique until he found just the right one to render me helpless.

His lips scorched a path down my neck, and my back arched as if begging for his touch. “Say yes, Izzy.”

I stifled the moan that formed low in my throat, but I squeaked instead when he sucked my nipple into his mouth. My body rocked on its own, moving toward him instinctively, wanting the bite of his teeth. His hand slid down my front, cupping my pussy, not hard enough to give me pleasure, only the sweet torment that he reveled in.

“Say yes, and I’ll give you what you want.”

He was playing with me. James was a master manipulator. I didn’t know if it was his background with the DEA or just something he was born with, but he used it perfectly when it suited his purpose.

I clenched my jaw, grinding my teeth together. “No.”

He pulled my panties to the side before dipping two fingers inside me with the most sinful smile. “Last chance, baby,” he warned.

What was he going to do to me if I didn’t give in? The thought passed through my mind, but I pushed it away. I was lost in the feel of his hands on my skin and the ache between my legs, but my resistance held. “No,” I bit out.

Don’t forget to catch up with the Men of Inked series today and be ready for Worship Me on May 9th!

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Chelle Bliss is the USA Today bestselling author of the Men of Inked and ALFA P.I. series. She hails from the Midwest, but currently lives near the beach even though she hates sand. She’s a full-time writer, time-waster extraordinaire, social media addict, coffee fiend, and ex high school history teacher. She loves spending time with her two cats, alpha boyfriend, and chatting with readers. To learn more about Chelle, please visit chellebliss.com.

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Jennifer’s review of The Alpha’s Secret Family by Jessie Lane

Title: The Alpha’s Secret Family 

Author: Jessie Lane
Genre: paranormal romance, contemporary romance
Stars: 4🛍🛍🛍🛍
Dia and Stone are a hot and sweet couple. Dia is a human who moved to town to take over a beauty salon. She is looking to start her career and life there. Stone is the alpha of the local wolf pack. When he spots Dia he knows she is his mate. The only problem is that she is human. He has to woo and date her. After rescuing her from a car running her over, she finally agrees to a date. He eventually has to let her know he is a wolf. Will she run screaming into the night or stay? I enjoyed this story. This is my first book by this author. It was funny, sweet and had a touch of mystery and danger. My only complaint is I wish I could have read more about the couple and their lives together before Dia left to visit her parents. Definitely worth a read and I am excited to read more by this author!
**received an advanced copy**

Ripple Effect 3 by Keri Lake

 

 

 

From the author of Ricochet and Backfire comes a dark erotic suspense serial …

Episode Three: In the underbelly, trust is everything, and Dylan will soon discover that Ripley trusts no one. With the return of an old threat, loyalty is on the line, and betrayal could mean the end of everything for both of them.

Series Synopsis:

Ripley

They call me RIP.
I’m a killer. A murderer. A psychopath.
In the eyes of the righteous, I’m a monster, born of sin and depravity.
I want to protect her, but I’m not a good man.
I want to love her, but I no longer feel.
She gets under my skin, though, and has awakened something inside of me.
Something I’d kill for.
I’m not her savior—not even close. In fact, I’m worse than the hell she’s already suffered.
I’m her vengeance. Tit for tat, as they say.
And if she’s not careful, I’ll be her ruin.

Dylan

For months, I’ve watched him.
I’ve fantasized him as my savior, my lover. My ticket out of the hell I’ve lived in for the last six years.
I never dreamed he’d be my nightmare.
Had I known what he really is, I’d have never gotten in the car that night, but life is full of cause and effect.
And sometimes the choice on offer isn’t a choice at all.
It’s the result of something already in motion, and we’re merely left to survive the ripple effect.

*This is an erotic suspense/erotic romance not recommended for readers under the age of 18 due to graphic violence and sex

 

 

 

I sit on the edge of the bathtub, breathing through my nose to keep from throwing up whatever’s left in my stomach.  An incessant tremble runs beneath my skin, stirring up nausea in my gut.  
“It just … came out of nowhere.  I felt sick.”  The glass of water passed to me diverts my attention, and I glance up at Ripley’s massive form looming over me, arms crossed.  “That smell.  Something about the smell on your hands.”
“Bleach.”
“Were you cleaning something?”  I take a small sip of the water, nervous that I might not be able to keep it from coming back up.
“Blood,” is all he says, as if I’m not supposed to ask.
To hell with that.  I’d rather talk about what he did than focus on my embarrassment, because I have no explanation for why I freaked out.
“Your blood?”
“No.”
“I could really use the distraction right now.”  Dropping my shoulders, I sigh.  “Humor me?”
His jaw shifts, and maybe I wasn’t supposed to ask him about his work.  Maybe it’s all classified or the hitman equivalent. Whatever.  I know Ripley’s not a good man.  That he does bad things. But I’ve come to the understanding that no one in the underbelly is good.  So I really don’t give a shit if I’m not supposed to ask.
“I killed a man.”  His eyes are trained on me—one blue and one hazel, neither of them so much as flinching with his confession.
“How?”  
The line of tension that stiffens his shoulders sags, and he smiles down at me.  “Is that where we’re at now, Bandit?  You’re so comfortable around me to ask the details of my kills?”
“You don’t have to give me details.”  I don’t even realize I’m fidgeting until I look down to see the red streak where I’ve scratched my knuckles.
“Shot him.  Square in the skull.”
I keep my gaze glued to my hands, imagining the scenario.  Ripley’s big menacing body standing over the man who begs for his life.  Horrible.  Yet somehow it takes me away from whatever nightmare I suffered moments ago.  “Did you burn him with acid?”
“No.  He was a merciful kill.”
“Merciful?  Are any of them worth mercy?”  The sneer in my voice takes me by surprise and tipping my head back, I just catch the shake of his head.  “If you were going to kill me, how would you do it?”
Ignoring my question, he jerks his head toward the glass of water in my hand.  “Are you feeling better?”
My cheeks warm with embarrassment, and I’m glad he doesn’t answer.  It was a stupid question.  “Yeah.  It went away.”
“What exactly was it?”
The nervous vibration still skitters along my bones, but I shrug.  “I wish I knew.  Ripley?  Are you going to throw me out?”
“Why are you asking that?”
“Because you’ve … not asked me for anything.  Is the deal off?”  I lodge my fingers though my hair, gripping tight to my skull.  Teetering on the line of sobriety has fucked with my head and I’ve become deathly afraid of what I’d do for those pills outside of these walls. “I know I screwed up with the drugs.  And I wasn’t … I didn’t want to steal from you.  But I can’t go back on the streets.  I can’t.  I already know I’ll die out there.  I don’t know what was up with the bleach, but it has nothing to do with drugs.  I promise.”
A good ten seconds of silence follows before he says, “Deal’s not over yet.”
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Keri Lake is a married mother of two living in Michigan. By day, she tries to make use of the degrees she’s earned in science. By night, she writes dark contemporary, paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Though novels tend to be her focus, she also writes short stories and flash fiction on the many occasions distraction sucks her into the Land of Shiny Things.

For news, updates and sneak peeks at the sexy cover model candidates for her annual Cover Model Contest, subscribe to her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/HJPHH

 

 

 

In the Bonds of Earth by Janine Ashbless

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was a collection of erotic short stories with various supernatural and fantasy themes, and I was inspired to write them after a friend gave me a Black Lace collection and I realized “WOW! You are allowed to write this sort of naughty stuff!”

The first book of this trilogy, Cover Him With Darkness, started life as a short story that appeared in Mitzi Szereto’s collection Red Velvet and Absinthe, and the publisher at Cleis loved it so much that she asked me to write what happened next.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Madeline Moore called me “hardcore and literate.” I love that!

How did you come up with the title of your current book?

“In Bonds of the Earth” is a quote from The Book of Enoch, which is an apocryphal BC text not included in most Bibles, but which is all about fallen angels: “And from henceforth you shall not ascend into heaven into all eternity, and in bonds of the earth the decree has gone forth, to bind you for all the days of the world.”

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Right and wrong is not about following any set of laws, it’s founded on empathy.

How much of the book is realistic?

It’s a contemporary paranormal about fallen angels, but I put a LOT of effort into making the settings and details accurate. A big chunk is set in Ethiopia for example – so I went to Ethiopia for 20 days. The description of the rock-hewn churches is bang-on accurate…right up to the end of Chapter 9.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

My real life is not that eventful, believe me!

What books have most influenced your life most?

“The Lord of the Rings.” I’m a geek; I started playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was thirteen. I think everything else has come out of that.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Angela Carter influenced my writing style and themes from the start.

What book are you reading now?

“The Tiger and the Wolf” by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It’s an excellent fantasy with a really unusual setting.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Samantha McLeod and Sonni de Soto.

What are your current projects?

I’m writing the sequel to In Bonds of the Earth, and the final part of that trilogy: The Prison of the Angels.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I’ve found the erotica writing community (which is mostly female btw) incredibly supportive, intelligent, and friendly.

Do you see writing as a career?

No – I see it as a vocation, and as my purpose in life.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I wish I’d made it clear that all fallen angels are left-handed. Too late now, lol.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I always wanted to write, I think.

Can you share a little of your current work in progress with us?

Egan came up behind me without a word and slipped his arms round my waist, kissing the top of my head, breathing the scent of my hair.
Goddamnit; to cut him some slack, I’m fairly sure he didn’t know the effect that had on me– my insides were doing that flip-flop thing that hurt so good.
“We need to talk,” he murmured.
I knew it! Here it comes. Mr. Rationality. Mr. Consequences. My stomach tightened up like a knotted fist. They were so different, my two loves. Azazel was a creature of appetite and the moment, living for his desires—but Egan lived in the battlemented ivory tower of overthinking, fending off the armies of his libido. Only when he was undermined by illness or exhaustion or drink did he ever fall into recklessness.
And me? I was much more like Azazel. I went with my gut instinct. None of this would have happened if that hadn’t been the case.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

After 15+ years of writing erotica, the most challenging thing is writing orgasms without just repeating myself!

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I have many favorite authors, all wildly different, but the one thing they all have in common is that they have their own creative vision and they don’t compromise it or write to a market formula.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I LOVE travelling, and use the places I’ve been to all over the world as settings or inspiration for many of my stories and novels – even ones set in imaginary worlds.

Who designed the covers?

The cover of In Bonds of the Earth is by Deranged Doctor Design and I’m delighted with it! The publisher and I put a LOT of discussion into getting something we’d be proud of. In fact, input into cover design was my first stipulation in my contract!

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Writing the main antagonist/villain, in a way that makes it clear they’re awful, yet understandable.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Every time you think you know your characters, they suddenly reveal another layer of complexity.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you have an uncomfortable truth to tell about your protagonist, put it in the mouth of an antagonist.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Read critically. Don’t assume that everything a protagonist says is correct, or is projecting the author’s own opinion. We sometimes write characters that we think are getting it badly wrong.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

I was brought up in a Christian (born-again Protestant) family but I’ve had to do a lot of research for this trilogy into other Christian theologies – Catholicism and Serbian Orthodoxy in particular, since my two main human characters belong to those traditions. There are surprising and significant differences that affect how they see the world.

Rapid Fire

Coffee – Tea: BOTH, IN STRICT TURN
Boxer – Briefs: BRIEFS
Jeans – Sweats: JEANS
Silk – Cotton: COTTON
iPhone-Galaxy: I DON’T OWN A SMARTPHONE!
Rightie – Leftie : LEFTIE
Soda-Water: TONIC
Cake-Pie: CAKE
Rock n roll – Country: ROCK
Mountains – Beach: MOUNTAINS
Cat -Dog: DOG

Favorite Movie: A Muppet Christmas Carol
Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones
Favorite Car: Anything that can fit two greyhounds in the back
Favorite Color: Midnight blue
Favorite Male Film Star: Tom Hardy
Favorite Female Film Star: Eva Green
Favorite Fast Food: Chinese
Favorite Cocktail: Mojito
Favorite Musical Band: Rammstein
Favorite Singer: Freddie Stevenson
Favorite Song: “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel

Excerpt from In Bonds of the Earth:

Wrapping the cheap cotton throw from the foot of the bed around my bare body, I padded through to the doorway. The Archangel Michael stood in the middle of my small apartment, looking about him at the book shelves and the pictures. A paperback copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo slipped from his hand back onto the low table.
“Hello, Milja. Nice place. Has he moved his toothbrush in yet?”
It was like waking to find a giant bird of prey in my tiny living room; he looked wildly unsuited to a domestic setting and way too big for it, even with wings furled. In fact, with that Roman nose and those unblinking amber eyes, there was something distinctly golden eagle-like about him. If he stretched out he could knock over walls, I thought.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked. “This is my home. You can’t just come barging in!”
“You’re right,” he said, looking startled. “I have to have your permission. No, hold on, wait…that’s vampires. Shame.”
I pursed my lips. “Well, God certainly did not hold back on the sarcasm when he made you guys.”
He smirked. If you’re that good-looking, even a less-than-warm smile can be a weapon of devastating charm. Turning to the couch, he sat down with arms draped over the back and knees spread. It was not so much an invitation as a claiming of territory.
“What do you want?” I kept my voice hard, even as I thought of the icon of Saint Michael that had stood guard over the key in my father’s church. That holy painting had always made me feel nervous as a child, and he was no less intimidating in the flesh. His piercing gaze rested lightly upon me, with all the gentleness of a sword-point.
“Nothing.”
His rigger boots were caked in dried mud, I noticed, and flaking on my rug. I wished he would blink. It still creeped me out, even though Azazel should have inured me to it. “Angels aren’t supposed to lie. What are you doing here?”
“Waiting.”
“So, what…you’re sitting guard over me until Azazel comes back? Is that your plan?”
“He’s too much of a coward to face me. Runs every time.”
“If that’s the way you want to call it.”
He looked at the kitchen door. “I see you have a kettle. You got any tea? I like that Earl Grey stuff. Tastes like flowers.”
“I know the rules, you know. You can’t actually do anything to me.”
“True enough. And I’m not stopping you leaving, if that’s worrying you.”
“I can move out. Get a new place.”
“That’s fine, I’ll find you. This apartment’s a bit small for the two of us, to be honest.”
I clenched my jaw, weighing my options. “Okay,” I said, and dropped my wrap to reveal my naked body, in all its post-coital salty glow.
That wiped the smile off his lips. “Don’t play those games,” he growled, sitting up and looking away from me.
Love is Azazel’s weak spot. Shame is theirs. They’re terrified of their own human flesh.
“What? Does this make you uncomfortable? That’s a pity, seeing as how it’s my house and I like to walk around it naked.”
“You are shameless.” His gaze was sliding all over the place, not daring to settle on me.
“I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.” I hefted my breasts and jiggled them. “They’re my tits. In my apartment. If you don’t want to see, clear out.”
“Put your robe back on,” he rasped.
“Oops,” I said. “Did I drop it?” Turning my back to him, I spread my feet and, straight-legged, bent over to pick the fabric up again. Nice and slow…
He moved so fast he’d launched me across the room and onto my bed before I even realized he was out of his seat. The abused mattress twanged in alarm. It knocked the wind out of me—and more than that, shocked me half to death. I wasn’t in the least bit hurt, not even bruised, but I hadn’t expected him to touch me at all, under the rules. Maybe the Boatman sailed closer to the wind than I’d bargained for.
“Don’t do that, whore!” he barked, leaning into my face. He looked furious. I knew why. It takes a human decades to learn how to deal with all the things that come with an adult body—all those hormones and instincts—without losing control. Angels never had the advantage of a gradual introduction.
I had two choices: surrender or fight. I bared my teeth and snarled right back at him, matching his rage and contempt. “Or what? You’re going to rape me? ’Cause I think that might just count as a fall from Grace, don’t you? And then you’d be royally fucked, Mister Michael.”
He recoiled, drawing himself up in undisguised horror. I took advantage of the gap between us to roll over and pull the drawer of my bedside cabinet open, pulling out the silicon rabbit sex toy I’d been given at my graduation party. I hadn’t used it in months, I couldn’t even remember if there were any batteries in it, and I certainly wasn’t feeling horny, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
“Wanna watch?” I asked, spreading my legs wide. “Because that’s what us girls do when we’re home alone these modern days. You can go into the other room if it squicks you out to see. Then you’ll only have to listen to the noises I make.”
He turned on his heel and stomped away, slamming his hands into the doorframe hard enough to crack the wood. But he didn’t leave altogether. He was just that bit too stubborn.

Blurb:

“I will free them all.”
When Milja Petak released the fallen angel Azazel from five thousand years of imprisonment, she did it out of love and pity. She found herself in a passionate sexual relationship beyond her imagining and control – the beloved plaything of a dark and furious demon who takes what he wants, when he wants, and submits to no restraint. But what she hasn’t bargained on is being drawn into his plan to free all his incarcerated brothers and wage a war against the Powers of Heaven.
As Azazel drags Milja across the globe in search of his fellow rebel angels, Milja fights to hold her own in a situation where every decision has dire consequences. Pursued by the loyal Archangels, she is forced to make alliances with those she cannot trust: the mysterious Roshana Veisi, who has designs of her own upon Azazel; and Egan Kansky, special forces agent of the Vatican – the man who once saved then betrayed her, who loves her, and who will do anything he can to imprison Azazel for all eternity.
Torn every way by love, by conflicting loyalties and by her own passions, Milja finds that she too is changing – and that she must do things she could not previously have dreamt of in order to save those who matter to her.
In Bonds of the Earth is the second in the Book of the Watchers trilogy and the sequel to Cover Him With Darkness.

Buy links:

Ebook:
Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/cu1pe0
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/in-bonds-of-the-earth/id1201654085?mt=11
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/in-bonds-of-the-earth
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Janine_Ashbless_In_Bonds_of_the_Earth?id=HZMSDgAAQBAJ&hl=en
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-bonds-of-the-earth-janine-ashbless/1125264279?ean=9781910908099

Print:
Support your small publisher and buy direct: https://sinfulpress.co.uk/product/in-bonds-of-the-earth-by-janine-ashbless/
Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/in-bonds-of-the-earth/janine-ashbless/9781910908082
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-bonds-of-the-earth-janine-ashbless/1125264279?ean=9781910908082
Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/fuqprg

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32996475-in-bonds-of-the-earth
Author bio:

Janine Ashbless is a writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure. She likes to write about magic and myth and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.

Buyer beware! If you like dark romance and a hard-won Happily Ever After, try “Cover Him with Darkness,” “Heart of Flame,” or “The King’s Viper.” If you prefer challenging erotica, go for “Red Grow the Roses” or “Named and Shamed” instead. All her other books lie somewhere on the spectrum between.

Janine has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000. She’s also had numerous short stories published by Black Lace, Nexus, Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance, Harlequin Spice, Storm Moon, Xcite, Mischief Books, and Ellora’s Cave among others. She is co-editor of the nerd erotica anthology ‘Geek Love’.

Born in Wales, Janine now lives in the North of England with her husband and two rescued greyhounds. She has worked as a cleaner, library assistant, computer programmer, local government tree officer, and – for five years of muddy feet and shouting – as a full-time costumed Viking. Janine loves goatee beards, ancient ruins, minotaurs, trees, mummies, having her cake and eating it, and holidaying in countries with really bad public sewerage.

Her work has been described as:
“Hardcore and literate” (Madeline Moore) and “Vivid and tempestuous and dangerous, and bursting with sacrifice, death and love.” (Portia Da Costa).

You can find Janine on Facebook or at her website or blog.

Author picture credit to David Woolfall.

*****

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Twice As Hard by Amber Bardan

 

 

Coming March 20th

 

 

 

They caught me. Naked, shivering and dripping after a spontaneous swim in the forest. Two rugged men whose hard gazes captivated and scared me all at once.

They warned me. Told me I was on private property and I needed to obey the law…or I would be punished.

The idea of them both punishing me, pleasuring me, kept tormenting me. I couldn’t want them. I shouldn’t. But I did.

I didn’t mean to trespass again. I thought I could retreat without notice. But they’re coming for me.

To show me the pleasure in pain. To show me just how right forbidden can feel. And to love me twice as hard as I ever fantasized.

 

 

I run up the track. My thighs scream—but I can’t stop yet. Pain blazes from my blistered heels. The ground levels out. My sneakers slide on dirt.
Fuck.
The world disappears, dropping out only yards from where I’m stopped.
I go to my knees, gasping. The urge to vomit rises hard in my throat, yet the sight ahead pierces me almost as sharply as the burning in my lungs. The view from the peak of Hunter Mountain is everything I’ve been led to believe. I press my palms to the earth. Oh god, the air is good.
So damned good.
Fragrant and so clean I’ve only experienced its pale imitation from a bottle. Forest scent. Almost makes this worth it. Almost. I fill my lungs, and my racing heart slows a fraction. I drop onto my heels. Green rolling hills and the kind of quiet I’ve only imagined stretch out before me.
I shut my eyes. In my thirty-one years I’ve never experienced a moment of quiet like this. Where the loudest thing competing for my attention is the sound of me—my breath.
My galloping pulse.
There’s always been a background noise so ever present I never noticed it until this absence. Traffic. Street. People. The whine of electronics a constant hum.
Pity there’s not a moment of peace to be found.
Not now. Not like this. Not on my own.
Why’d he send me here?
Flapping jerks me out of my thoughts. I look up. Broad, dark wings beat overhead.
Holy crap. Is that an actual eagle? The huge bird soars over the ledge to hover above the ravine.
Hunting.
On Hunter Mountain. I drag my backpack off my shoulders, and open it up, fingers slipping into the inside pocket where the letter waits.
I roll onto my backside, and then peel back the seal from one side of the envelope to the other, glue stretching like cheese for a moment before snapping. My thumb pauses in the fold of the paper. I unfold the note a fraction at a time.

Congratulations, Baby, you made it.
Aren’t you glad you did?
Enjoy the view for half an hour. Set your timer, you impatient little thing. Then take the path to left, there’s something there I want you to see.

I scrunch the paper into a ball, and it’s only the abomination of littering in a place like this, that stops me from hurling it in the direction of the eagle.
That’s it?
I’ve come all this way, suffered through so much, for a hike?
Why’d he even bother? I’m not sure if this is him trying to hang on—or refusing to completely let go.
Neither answer is one I’m prepared to dwell on. So I gather together the remnants of my hopefulness and obey my husband, setting my timer exactly as he’s instructed. Then drink from my water bottle and eat an apple to pass time, because he’s right—I’m a very impatient thing.
The beep pings from my phone. With the nonexistent reception here, an alarm is about all the phone’s good for.
I tuck the phone away, slip the backpack on and stand. My legs give a jellied wobble, leaving me with a feeling of walking on bendy stilts. I circle the top of the mountain, then find a track on the left, the one he must’ve meant.
Do Not Enter, the sign reads.
Of course it does. I sigh and take the path, adjusting the straps of the bag and wondering what fresh torture he has in store for me.

One small mercy, walking down is a damn sight easier than running up.
I descend into the trees and the silence bleeds into a more organic quiet, where birds rustle, things move, and then…water rushes.
I pick up pace. Tired or not, I jog down the path toward the sound, then burst into a clearing.
The scent of water hits me.
I stare at the stream plunging over a hanging ledge. My eyes widen as if I could somehow take it in more. A real waterfall.
A heady mix of awe and joy floods me.
Bounced from one L.A. foster home to the next, vacations and sightseeing hadn’t been any part of my upbringing. I’d worked my ass off to get into college, then worked it even harder in my good, safe, secure bank job to pay off student loans—until him.
Until Dean came along and every plan I ever had went up in flames.
But this? Waterfall. Had I mentioned on one of our lazy Sunday mornings after he’d fucked me into exhaustion, how I’d always longed to see one?
My chest squeezes. Maybe this means he forgives me…
I take off the backpack and toss it onto the ground. Then tear off my top, kick off my shoes and peel off my socks. The late spring air has my nipples puckering, but I unhook my bra and let it fall where I stand.
He hasn’t instructed this part, but I can just see him imagining it when he wrote the note. He’d picture me unable to resist skinny dipping in the wilderness.
Had it made him hard when he’d told me to come this way?
I undo the button at my waist and peel off my jeans. My underwear goes next. Then I walk buck naked toward the water.
Of course he’d been hard.
He’d have known I’d do just this. My thighs squeeze. Heat moves through me. I’m naked out in the open without Dean and he can’t do a thing to stop me.
I climb onto a rock.
A laugh springs from my lips. The sound echoes back at me, clear and crisp and startling. It’s been too long since I’ve heard that sound.
I leap into the water.
Freezing cold slams into me. I resurface with a gasp. Oh, shit. The water’s not just cold it’s so icy it has teeth. Still, I do the thing I’ve always, always wanted to do, and swim to the waterfall. Foam and bubbles, and the current seem to force me back. A tremor of danger moves through me. It could be risky to try to swim through the waterfall.
I take a breath and dive underwater. Pressure pounds my back then dissipates. I emerge on the other side, and look up. The water curtains me from the outside world.
Sadly, no cave, but I climb onto the bit of rock ledge and watch for the brief moment before cold and self-preservation force me down.
That’s the thing about fantasy, you never dream these parts—the threat of hypothermia or how a slimy rock feels on your bare ass.
I dive back through the waterfall, and swim toward where I’ve left my things. My skin goes numb. A blanket of goose bumps coats my limbs. I collect my carelessly scattered clothes. Dirt and mossy chunks of forest floor cling to my feet and work up my ankles. My teeth chatter. I bend to retrieve my underwear and jeans.
Sound crunches behind me.
I spin, clothes clutched in my hands. A man stands in front of me, maybe six feet away. My heart seizes.
He stares, gaze raking over me as though he’s never seen a woman. From the looks of him maybe he never has. His beard is rough, dark and speckled with silver, but it’s the jaw underneath—clenched tight as he takes me in, that has my own teeth biting together. He’s built like someone who spends his days felling trees or wrestling grizzlies.
Or both.
My pulse mimics the sound of the waterfall, growing louder in my ears, until I don’t know which roar is which. That whole big body seems poised.
Set to pounce.
“I didn’t know anyone was here.” My voice emerges strangled and rusty.
He says nothing, but his gaze makes its way from where I clutch my things to my chest, then lands on mine.
His features set hungrily, tension thrumming tight through his expression in a way that makes me feel like a buffet that’s being presented at the very brink of starvation.
I can almost feel my heart beat against my forearms through the clothes I hold. Air moves in icy prickles over my naked thighs and between my legs. His attention moves there. To my uncovered cunt, which my bundle of clothes doesn’t hide.
His chest moves quickly, like he’s an animal under the heat of too much sun.
His fingers twitch at his sides. Big fingers. He has big fingers and big hands. Hands that would hold roughly. Fingers that would grab brutally.
And I can’t move. Can’t cover myself. Can’t conceal my most private area.
He takes a step—just one.
I jerk backward and stumble. My clothes tumble to the ground.
He looks at my chest. At my breasts, nipples puckered and strained. There’s a sensation rushing through me that reminds me of the brief period in my teens when I’d get high. A light-headedness that suspends me almost out of body.
He hisses, and comes for me.
A jolt of numbness plunges me back into frozen atrophy.
A blast rings out. Birds spring from trees.
A gunshot.

 


After spending years imagining fictional adventures, Amber finally found a way to turn daydreaming into a productive habit. She now spends her time in a coffee-fuelled adrenaline haze, writing romance with a thriller edge.

She lives with her husband and children in semi-rural Australia, where if she peers outside at the right moment she might just see a kangaroo bounce by.

Amber is an award winning writer, Amazon Bestselling Author, and member of Romance Writers of Australia, Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, and Writers Victoria.

 

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