Thursday, February 22, 2018

Featuring DEVIL'S RUN by Beverley Oakley

Devil's Run

A rigged horse race - with a marriage and a lost child riding on the outcome.

This is book 3 in the Scandalous Miss Brightwells series, though it can be read as a stand-alone.
Can the matchmaking Brightwell sisters avoid scandal and disaster as they try to rescue two tortured souls and unite their passionate hearts?



When Miss Eliza Montrose’s extraordinary bravery wins her the respect of matchmaking queens Fanny and Antoinette Brightwell, the sisters and their bumbling brother decide they must find a worthier suitor for the young woman they’d initially disliked. But Eliza has her own reasons for agreeing to marry their odious cousin. Reasons that have nothing to do with love! When handsome, honorable horse owner Rufus Patmore proves Eliza's perfect match, the Brightwells secretly hatch a plan that involves their cousin and a horse called Devil's Run riding in the East Anglia Derby. A horse that is suddenly and unexpectedly inherited by Eliza. Despite having acted with the best of intentions, the Brightwells discover that fixing the outcome of the race has unintended consequences. Book 1: Rake’s Honour (Just an FYI, the Kindle version is free for a limited time) Book 2: Rogue’s Kiss Book 3: Devil’s Run Book 4: The Accidental Elopement (preorder now)


What the reviewers say:
"Very intriguing Austen-esque novel with well-developed characters and story line. The best historical romance novel I've read in a while." ~ Amazon reviewer
I started writing Devil's Run because I couldn't stop thinking about the infant with the sixth finger who was discovered in the basket in front of the foundling hospital in the previous book, Rogue's Kiss. There'd only been a brief mention of the mother who was clearly from a good family being forced by an older woman to leave her young son in the basket and this happens in the first scene in Rogue's Kiss (book 2), as she snatches her child from the basket and runs in front of the carriage in which Thea, my heroine, is travelling - thus setting up the meeting with Thea and her hero in that story. (The child, Jack, features only briefly in later pages of Rogue's Kiss.)
After finishing Rogue's Kiss, though, I began to wonder who this young woman was, and whether she'd ever be reunited with her child. Obviously, the answer had to be that she would, but the challenge was bringing her into the orbit of my Brightwell family - two matchmaking sisters and their sinister, conniving cousin George - around whom the story revolves.
Thus, Devil's Run begins with the self-contained Eliza Montrose visiting Quamby House where Matchmaking Queens Fanny and Antoinette Brightwell - who've made rags-to-riches marriages - live.
Fanny and Antoinette dislike her initially for being boring until she spectacularly rescues some children from drowning. This is when Eliza realises that one of these children - on account of his 6th finger - is her lost son. And that's why she's motivated to marry awful, conniving Cousin George so she can be close to her secret son. Fanny and Antoinette are determined that Eliza's too good for George, and of course Eliza's past and her motivations for marrying George are very secret, but when the Brightwells set up a matchmaking scheme with the very honourable Rufus Patmore who's arrived to buy a horse, the real action begins.
Here's an excerpt:
Chapter One
“And there’s nothing else you’d like, my dear? No?” George Bramley found it an effort to keep the syrup in his tone as he straightened up after receiving the polite rebuff.
His bride-to-be had not even looked at him as she’d declined the piece of marchpane he’d been certain would win him at least a smile.
Hovering at her side, he weighed up the advantages of a gentle rebuke, then decided against it. Until yesterday, he’d thought her quiet demeanour suggested a charmingly pliant nature. Now, he was not so sure. In fact, suddenly, he was not sure of anything.
“A glass of lemonade perhaps, my angel? Or a gentle stroll?”
“I would prefer to be left alone.” Miss Montrose waved a languid hand, while she continued to gaze at the still lake beside which their picnic party had situated itself.
George blinked and tried to mute his anger. The languid hand wave had not even been accompanied by a demure thank you as subtle acknowledgement of her gratitude, that not only had Mr Bramley, heir to a viscountcy, stepped in to rescue Miss Eliza Montrose from impoverishment, he was prepared to treat her publicly as if she were as fine a catch as he could have made.
A soft titter brought his head round sharply, but the ladies behind him, bent over the latest Ackerman’s Repository, appeared occupied with their own gossip as they lounged on cushions beneath the canopy that had been erected to protect them from the sun.
Awkwardly, he looked for occupation as he continued to eye his intended with a mixture of irritation and desire—both lustful desire, and the desire to put her in her place.
The idea of the latter made him harden. She was beautiful, this quiet, apparently retiring, young woman who said so little, but whose eyes spoke such volumes. The afternoon sun added a rich gloss to her hair and imbued her porcelain skin with a warm glow. The skin that he could see at any rate.
He pushed back his shoulders. On their wedding night in three weeks, when he’d at last taken possession of her, he’d rip that modesty to shreds. The skin she was so at pains to hide would be his, not only to see, but to caress and taste. When she was his wife, the beautiful, distant Miss Eliza Montrose would no longer get away with paying George Bramley so little attention. No, he’d have her screaming and writhing at his command. He would make her like the things he did to her, or at least show him she did if she enjoyed harmony as much as she appeared to. None of this languid reclining like a half-drugged princess in his presence. He’d keep her on her toes, ready to leap to his bidding at the sound of his footstep. She’d learn to be grateful.
Feeling ignored and superfluous, he turned to his uncle’s detestable wife, Lady Quamby, and said with a smile, “Perhaps you and Miss Montrose would like to accompany me to the turret. Since you appear to have enjoyed this new novel, Northanger Abbey, so much, you might be interested to know there is an excellent view of the ruined monastery not far from here.”
He was just priding himself on being so attuned to the feminine inclination for pleasure, when Lady Quamby half turned and sent him a desultory smile. “Oh, I think Miss Montrose looks perfectly comfortable, and Fanny and I are having such a lovely little coze.” As if imitating Miss Montrose, she waved a languid hand in his general direction. “Why don’t you take Mr Patmore off to see it? The two of you can tell us all about it when you return.”
The fact that Miss Montrose didn’t deign to even speak for herself, much less glance in his direction, sent the blood surging to Bramley’s brain. By God, when he was married to Eliza Montrose, the limpid look of love so lacking now would be pasted onto her face every time he crossed her line of vision. She’d soon learn what was good for her.
He inclined his head, hiding his fury, and was on the point of leaving when Lady Quamby’s sister, Fanny—for he’d be damned if he’d accord the little strumpet the title of Lady Fenton—leapt up from her chair. She’d been poring over the latest fashions, but now she smiled brightly up at him.
“I’ll come with you, Cousin George. We’ll have an excellent view from the battlements of the children learning to row. I told Nanny Brown and the nursemaid they could take them in the two boats if the children had been good.”
Bramley fixed her with a dampening look. In fact, he was about to give up the idea of going up to the battlements altogether when his other guest, Rufus Patmore, suddenly rose and joined Fanny’s side with a late and unexpected show of enthusiasm.
“Capital idea!” declared Rufus.
George flashed them both a dispassionate look. He’d chosen to invite his betrothed, Miss Montrose—whose chaperone was currently tucked up in the green bedchamber nursing a head cold—to be his guest at his uncle’s estate, Quamby House, after receiving intelligence that Ladies Quamby and Fenton would be safely in London with their husbands and children. Instead, the brazen Brightwell sisters—as they’d infamously been called when he’d first made their acquaintance—had altered their plans, and were now in dogged attendance, reminding him as they always had, of some awful tenacious climbing plant, determined to find a foothold wherever they could in order to rise in the world.
Rufus, a last minute addition and acquaintance from his club, Boodles, was here because he’d purchased a horse from Bramley the night before. Now, Rufus was gazing at Lady Fenton with the same dewy-eyed fondness George was used to seeing reflected in the eyes of his uncle, the Earl of Quamby, who called the Brightwell sisters his precious rosebuds. To George, they were common dandelions! And now they had overridden Quamby House, the rambling Queen Anne manor house and estate that would have passed to George the moment his uncle quit this mortal coil, were it not for the snotty-nosed infant Lady Quamby had borne far too early in her marriage to George’s uncle.
George shook his head. He’d changed his mind. Only, there was Rufus already ten yards away, striding across the lawn with Fanny at his side, and George didn’t want to be seen as petulant for having offered the suggestion in the first place. Or have his snubbed and ignored status so much on parade, since the two remaining ladies—Miss Montrose and Lady Quamby—now had their heads bent together in deep discussion, with no apparent interest in seeking his company.
By God, he thought, clenching his fists as he set off after the other two at a brisk trot, theyΚΎd all rue the day they showed George Bramley so little respect.
About Beverley
Beverley Oakley is an Australian author who grew up in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho, married a Norwegian bush pilot she met in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and started writing historical romances to amuse herself in the 12 countries she’s lived as a ‘trailing spouse’ (in between working as an airborne geophysical survey operator, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and writing for her former newspaper). Her Scandalous Miss Brightwell series was nominated Best Historical Romance by the Australian Romance Readers Association.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

PRETTY LITTLE KILLERS by Rita Herron Spotlight


The predators become prey in a breathless novel of revenge from a USA Today bestselling author.
Still haunted by his wife’s murder—and stained by the blood of avenging it—FBI special agent Hatcher McGee can’t believe he’s being teamed up with rookie agent Korine Davenport. She is his most guilty secret—the one-night stand who almost cost him everything.
Korine has her own demons. As a child, she witnessed her father’s murder, and she’s spent her life waiting for the killer’s return. She and Hatcher are both looking for closure, but the disturbing case that draws them together could be their last.
When the mutilated body of a corrupt Savannah judge surfaces, Hatcher and Korine find themselves on the trail of a vigilante who is showing no mercy. Not for the predators who’ve gone free. And not for anyone who gets in the way.
As the body count rises, and as Hatcher’s and Korine’s own pasts unfold, they must risk their lives tracking a killer they’ve come to understand all too well. After all, the ends justify the means. 

Amazon
                                    
USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author Rita Herron fell in love with books at the ripe age of eight when she read her first Trixie Belden mystery. Although she wanted to be a writer then and actually scrawled her first novel at age twelve, she didn’t think real people grew up to be writers, so she became a kindergarten teacher instead. Twenty years ago, she traded her classroom storytelling and puppets for a computer and now writes so she doesn’t have to get a real job. Having sold over ninety books to date, she enjoys spinning spine-tingling romantic suspense tales filled with murder, mayhem, and spicy romance as well as sexy romantic comedies. Rita Herron currently writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue and she’s writing dark, gritty romantic suspense thrillers for Amazon Montlake.

Facebook. Visit Rita

Saturday, February 17, 2018

DEADLY SUMMER Review


Ten years ago, Summer Butler was television’s most popular teenage sleuth. Since then, she’s hit—what gossip sites just love to call—the gutter. Nearly bankrupt, betrayed, estranged from her greedy mother, and just about unemployable, she’s coaxed into that desperate haven for has-beens: reality TV.

Deadly Summer by Denise Grover SwankWinging it as a faux PI, she’ll solve off-the-cuff mysteries in her hometown of Sweet Briar, Alabama. For added drama, there’s police chief Luke Montgomery, inconveniently Summer’s first and only love.
It’s when Summer stumbles upon a very real corpse that Darling Investigations takes an unexpected twist. The growing list of suspects is a big draw to viewers, but the reality is that Summer doesn’t know whom she can trust. Someone has written this killer new scene especially for her, and unless Summer gives the role everything she’s got, it could be her last… (Synopsis from Amazon)

My thoughts....4 stars
A lot of my reads lately have been fairly heavy and dark, which is no problem. However, sometimes I want something lighter. But lighter doesn’t mean skimping on a believable premise, relatable characters, interesting locale, and a strong solid mystery.  The atmosphere is the only difference. DEADLY SUMMER fits all the criteria perfectly.
Imagine being washed up before you’re 30. Summer Butler is a unicorn in Tinseltown, an honest to goodness good girl. She’s been in a bit of bind lately thanks to her career screeching to a halt and her mom absconding with her money. To add to her woes the balloon payment on the ancestral farm is coming due. What’s a girl to do? Sign on to do a reality show, that’s what.
Trading on her teen detective character from Gotcha!, Summer is now a genuine licensed PI with made to order cases to investigate for the cameras. One big problem though, Summer wants it to be real, not the scripted horsefeather’s Lauren keeps pushing at her. 
Summer’s return to her small Southern hometown of Sweet Briar, Alabama rattles more than one cage. Luke Montgomery, current Chief of Police, is the boy left behind. She’s not high on Meemaw’s list, but is excited to see her cousins Dixie, here assistant at the agency (past scandal there) and Teddy. Let’s not forget mommy darling, now a pageant trainer living comfortably in a huge home built with Summer’s money.
When one of Summer’s faux cases leads to a genuine murder mystery things get really real. Will she solve the mystery or become another victim? Will Summer win out over Lauren and make her reality show just that in truth? Will Summer and Meemaw reconcile? Can she save the family farm? These questions and more can only be answered if you read DEADLY SUMMER. 
If you’re looking for a lighter atmosphere with all the bite of the darker mysteries I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with DEADLY SUMMER.
4 stars

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

THAT KILLER SMILE & Dating the Undead Giveaway w/ Juliet Lyons

   

 THERE WILL BE HEAT...
Vampire Catherine Adair gave up trying to find her perfect match ages ago. But that didn’t stop her from founding London’s super successful vampire dating site. When a smoldering vampire overlord from her past launches an interspecies speed-dating service, Catherine vows to crush the competition….

WHEN THESE TWO COMPETE
Ronin’s new venture is purely about getting Catherine’s attention. He hasn’t stopped thinking about her ever since the night she gave him the cold shoulder. Nobody gets away from Ronin McDermott that easily...


JULIET LYONS is a paranormal romance author from the UK. She holds a degree in Spanish and Latin American studies and works part-time in a local primary school where she spends far too much time discussing Harry Potter. Since joining global storytelling site Wattpad in 2014, her work has received millions of hits online and gained a legion of fans from all over the world. When she is not writing, Juliet enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

Find Juliet Online:
Website      Facebook     Twitter    Wattpad.    Goodreads

Cat
My first thought when I see the smashed lock is, How on earth did a burglar make it past Mrs. Colangelo?
I shove the door open and step inside. There, sitting—no lounging—in my Laura Ashley recliner and stroking Wentworth, is Ronin f*** weasel McDermott.
My eyes bulge as I absorb the preposterous scene of him sitting with my pet in his lap. He looks like an infuriatingly hot James Bond villain.
“Evening, Catherine,” he says with a nod of his head.
I glare into his intense blue eyes, fists clenching. “What the actual fuck are you doing in my apartment?”
He cocks a brow before rising from the chair, taking Wentworth with him. The latter stays snuggled under his arm, as docile as a newborn lamb.
Pointing at Wentworth, I hiss, “Did you glamour my cat?”
A cloud of confusion passes across his handsome features. “Why on God’s earth would I glamour a cat?”
Without missing a beat, I snap, “That’s what you do to get people to like you.”
He feigns an injured look before setting Wentworth down on the carpet. Then he reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a tiny object. It twinkles beneath the light. “You dropped this earring in my office. It must have fallen out when you kissed me.”
I snort in derision. “Ha! Yeah, I kissed you. Good one. And you came all the way here, broke in to my apartment just to return it to me?”
“I’ll get the lock fixed,” he says, placing the earring on the coffee table. “And I didn’t break in as such. One of your neighbors let me up.”
I shake my head. “Let me guess, an Italian lady in a robe?”
He smiles and I try not to notice how it softens the hard lines of his strong features, how his cool-blue eyes are suffused with warmth.
“There’s a chance she believes lover boy next door is bisexual.”
“What the hell did you tell her?” I ask, folding arms across my chest. The mention of Peter comes as a shock. Being in the same room as Ronin McDermott, I’ve already forgotten he exists.
“Nothing she didn’t secretly long to hear. So who is this guy anyway? Should I be jealous?”
My stomach flips, my mind skipping back to that moment in his office when I left him with a hard-on in the presence of Playboy bunnies. “Jealous?” I try to inject venom into my voice, but my heart isn’t in it. “Tell me, did you enjoy yourself with those girls the other afternoon?”
His brows knit. He looks genuinely flummoxed. “What girls?”
I toss my bag onto the sofa. “Meant that much to you, did they?”
He stays frozen to the spot, brows drawn. “Do you really think I care about other girls?”
His voice is low, as cracked as splintered glass. Suddenly, it seems as if all the oxygen has been sucked from the room. As I meet his burning gaze, it’s like the last couple of days—work, my date with Peter—never happened. I’m back in his office right before his lips landed on mine.
Except this time neither of us budge.
“You’re a sickness,” he says at last in that same fractured tone. “Don’t you see? A sickness in my veins.”
My brain sifts through responses at a hundred miles per hour, but my vocal chords remain frozen in my throat. I watch him like he’s a tiger, waiting for him to strike.
But he doesn’t pounce. He sighs instead, his jaw tightly clenched. “I’ve never wanted to upset you, Catherine. I’m sorry for what I did that night—biting you and giving you my venom. I shouldn’t have lost control like that.”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” I snap.
“I’ll be honest,” he continues. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start the speed-dating nights to get your attention. But I had no intention of ruining your business. In a way, it’s a compliment.”
My jaw drops in disbelief. “A compliment? Are you completely unhinged? Do you really have your head shoved so far up your ass that you don’t get why I can’t stand you?”
He shakes his head, holding out his hands, palms up. There’s desperation in his voice I’ve never heard from him before. “I’ve never once tried to play the ancient card with you. I never will, no matter how badly you piss me off.”
I stare at him, half believing he doesn’t have a clue, half-angry this is just another of his manipulative games.
“This isn’t about details. It’s about the bigger picture. One you’ve never bothered to try and get your arrogant head around. Who am I, Ronin?” The happiness the evening brought is leaking out of me faster than air from a burst balloon. To my horror, a sob escapes my throat. “What am I?”
“Is this one of those bizarre feminist questions?”
“For f**** sake, what am I? Answer me.”
His eyes flash in anger, but he doesn’t flinch. “A woman. A vampire. A neurotic shrew half the time.”
“A vampire,” I repeat, ignoring the last bit.
He looks utterly and completely blank.
“You have no idea. Do you?”
When he doesn’t answer, I open the busted door as wide as it will go and wave an arm toward it. “Goodbye, Ronin.”
If he wasn’t such a misogynistic playboy, I might experience a pang of guilt as I watch him skulk past me, defeated.
Outside he pauses, spinning around to face me. “I rang you,” he says. “Every day for a month after we slept together.”
“I know,” I whisper, staring at my Dolce & Gabbana boots. “I changed my telephone number on day three.”

He emits a short, hollow laugh, and when I look up, the hallway is completely empty. I hear the slam of a door as he exits the building onto the street.



   
Giveaway
Enter to win a copy of the first book in Juliet Lyons’ Bite Nights series, Dating the Undead

 


        














Saturday, January 27, 2018

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL Review





An astonishingly incisive and suspenseful novel about a scandal amongst Britain’s privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.
Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth? (synopsis from Amazon)



3 Stars
ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL certainly comes out at a propitious time. It’s almost like Ms. Vaughan is prescient.

James Whitehouse is a member of the privileged class in England. He’s had a fairly easy life to this point. He’s charming and oozes confidence. How can you not like Me?

Sophie is his wife. They met in Oxford and have 2 children. She’s supported James and his career from the beginning.

Kate is the lawyer attempting to convict James of rape.

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL bounces between the present, recent past, and Oxford in the early ’90’s. The class divide is sharply presented, especially in the Oxford setting.

Even when we try to relegate the past to the past, it usually stays with us or comes back to haunt us. Ms. Vaughan does an excellent job proving that adage.

The characters are finely drawn, there’re drama and tension-particularly in the courtroom scenes. It’s easy to get caught up in the characters lives, but harder to really like them. Empathize, yes, but I didn’t like any of them.

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL is a good solid read and it kept my interest. However, it was predictable. No twists or surprises, but still engaging.

Reviewed for Miss Ivy’s Book Nook Take II & Novels Alive TV

Monday, January 15, 2018

Spotlight on Rebecca Drake's JUST BETWEEN US

I really wanted to read JUST BETWEEN US when the review invite came. It sounds so flipping good. Unfortunately, there were Christmas gifts left to finish and other books I'd already committed to.
This is definitely going on my Need to Read list. It's exactly the kind of read I've been drawn to lately. If any of y'all have read it, please let me know your thoughts. 


Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all. 

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

Praise for JUST BETWEEN US
"A twisty, domestic thriller [...] tense, bombshell-laden, and action-packed." — Publisher's Weekly

"Female friendships flourish, then falter, under the weight of chance events underlaid by secrecy and deceit [...] Drake shows a sure hand in spinning suburban thrillers." —Booklist

"Fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris are going to love this twisty, diabolical suburban thriller. Clear your evening, you won't be able to put it down." — J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me

"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a stunner - a tense, twisty thriller about four ordinary women that begs the question: When a friend is in trouble, and all you want to do is help, how can everything go so terribly wrong?" — Karen Dionne, author The Marsh King's Daughter

"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a riveting thriller that reveals the dark heart beating in the middle of American suburbia. Every character in this rich novel has a secret, and the secrets get deeper and darker as the pitch-perfect plot unfolds. This is a stunning story of friendship and the tangled lies that bind four women together. Don't miss it!" — David Bell, author of Bring Her Home


REBECCA DRAKE is the author of the novels Don’t Be AfraidThe Next KillingThe Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

THE LAST WOLF & GIVEAWAY with Maria Vale



Title: The Last Wolf
Author: Maria Vale
Series: The Legend of All Wolves #1
Pub Date: February 6, 2018
ISBN: 9781492661870

For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.

If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die.
But if she stays…

Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack’s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn’t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…

Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don't really need it. She currently lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet. Visit her at https://www.mariavale.com/.

Buy Links:

GIVEAWAY

EXCERPT

In which Tiberius eats dinner with the hostile Pack and learns that not everything that is small and cute and furry is a puppy

Upstairs, the screen door opens and closes with a slam. Orders are barked out, and heavy treads stomp back and forth between hall and kitchen. As the Pack passes the stairs to the basement, the complex fragrances of the dishes they’re carrying waft down to us. Benches start scraping across floors, and I push Ti’s extra clothes into a bag and push the man himself up the stairs.
As soon as we reach the hall, the smile I hadn’t even known I was wearing fades. The Alphas of every echelon are standing around the heavy hand-scraped tables, each one of them holding tight onto their seaxs, the sharp daggers that all adult Pack wear at their waist.
There are strict penalties for attacking a table guest, and John will kill anyone who tries, but edgy wolves are edgy wolves and not always in control. I am this man’s shielder, and I face them, my thighs coiled low, my shoulders squared, and my lips curled back from my teeth, so these wolves know that I will fight, even in skin.
Tock, tock, tock.
Behind me, Ti is not even facing the right way. He’s looking at the table, opening up casseroles with one hand, while flicking his spoon up and down against his bowl with the thumb of the other (tock, tock, tock). As though there weren’t a hundred evil-eyed wolves staring holes into his back.
He lifts a hand-thrown lid and sniffs the saag paneer. Another basket with bread. A selection of Corningware casseroles hold cauliflower and lentil stew; sun-dried tomatoes and fresh cheese; corn chowder. Pasta with herbs. Egg salad.
“So…you’re vegetarians?” Ti says to no one in particular.
“Not vegetarians,” John answers. “But not carrion eaters either. You are our guest,” he says loudly to remind all the wolves with itchy palms about our very ancient and very strict rules of hospitality, “and free to hunt anywhere on our land, but Shifter? You must eat what you kill.”
“John?” I whisper, pulling at his elbow, and he bends down. “His name?”
John scratches his graying beard for a moment before pointing to one casserole dish in Blue Onion pattern. “Tiberius?” he says, “My personal favorite is the cauliflower and lentils. Be sure to add some toasted hazelnuts.”
Someone coughs, but John has broken the spell, and the Alphas reclaim their seats. Though when they do, they seem to have doubled in size, their broad shoulders and thighs now claiming whatever spare space we might have squeezed into.
I bend my head toward one of the empty tables. Those too will be full when the Offlanders come home for the Iron Moon, but for now, we sit there alone, side by side. The Pack starts talking again, bent low over their food because our table manners at home are not all they should be.
Naturally, there is a lot of talk about Ti, and while no one will question John’s decision, it is one of the peculiarities of the Old Tongue that the word giest means guest and stranger and enemy, so when someone speaks of our new giest, everyone understands the double meaning.
Then John says that’s enough Old Tongue for now.
A handful of pups scrabble up the stairs from the basement storage. They’re chasing something, taking wide frantic turns around the room.
“Mouse,” I whisper to Ti. “They don’t last long here.”
“She didn’t take me down,” Eudemos complains loudly.
“I mean, I was still standing.” He hacks at the big loaf of bread with his seax. “Where’sa butter?
“I neber submided,” he insists, a pale-yellow crumb flying across the table. He uses his thumb to push the mouthful back in. “If what she did counts as submitting now, I think we should change the laws, thass all I’m sayin’.”
“Deemer?” says John.
Victor, our Deemer, our thinker about Pack law, crosses his arms and looks at the ceiling for a moment. “The law does say an opponent must be pinned down,” he says. “But while Eudemos was not down, he was very definitely pinned, and that is the more important part of the law.”
“Your Alpha agrees. The spirit of the law was upheld.”
And with that, Eudemos will not say another word about the matter.
The mouse finally caught, Golan trots up to John, followed by a roiling mass of fur. He lays his tiny prey at the Alpha’s feet. John looks at it, making sure the kill was clean and the mouse didn’t suffer, then he scratches Golan’s ear and wishes him good eating.
Suddenly, Ti jumps and lowers his hand to fend off a juvenile, who has her damp nose in his crotch.
“Rainy!” shouts Gran Moira. “Come here!”
Rainy cocks her head to the side and stares up at Ti before running off.
“Why do you have so many dogs?” Ti asks, his legs now tightly crossed.
Nooo,” I hiss. They’re not…” It’s too late. He didn’t say it loudly, but our hearing is very good, and one set of very good ears is all that’s needed. One by one, the Pack falls silent, appalled by what Ti has called our children.
Four fuzzy snouts peek over the arm of one of the fireplace sofas. Other pups glower down from the curved stairs that lead up to the children’s quarters.
Then the only sound is the brittle crunch of Golan’s sharp, white teeth.
“Excuse me, Shifter?” pipes a small voice. A ten-year-old girl with long, pale-brown curls, wearing shorts and a much-washed blue T-shirt with a picture of a pickle on it, scratches the back of her calf with a bare foot. “I am sorry I smelled your crutch?” she says, glancing back at Gran Moira, who mouths the word crotch with an encouraging smile. “But that’s what I said. ‘Crutch.’”
“It’s ‘crotch,’” corrects Gran Moira.
“Oh,” Rainy says, turning back to Ti. “I am sorry I smelled your crotch? I didn’t mean to be offensive. I am just in the Year of First Shoes?”
The Year of First Shoes is the first twelve moons in the juvenile wing, when you’re too old to scamper around and be fed tidbits from the table, and you’re too young to see even the remotest advantage to being human. It’s when we first wear shoes and clothes.
It is a terrible, terrible time.