Saturday, May 23, 2015

Addicted to Writing Presents Sci/Fi Fantasy Saturday: Seasons of Time by Miriam Khan


Title: Seasons of Time
Author: Miriam Khan
ISBN: 978-1-62420-227-8
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 2
Book Heat Level: 1

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble


TAGLINE

Seventeen-year-old Lara Voight is forced to spend the summer with her stepmom's grandmother, but a ghostly boy in the woods and tales of a nineteenth century murder at the mansion aren’t exactly what she expected. 
BLURB

With her father and his new wife busy with their career, seventeen-year old Lara Voight has no choice but to accept her trip to Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. Her host, Gracen, is as cold and devious as her granddaughter, and Lara continues to experience a burning sensation. The only thing to soothe the horrid pain is the phantom scent that is familiar but hard to recall. When a local girl befriends Lara, she informs her of a girl named Penelope Le Rose who was murdered at the mansion. It turns out it was once known as Montague house.

Lara explores the story further. Gracen is even willing to help, going as far as to reveal a portrait of Penelope who looks just like Lara. Searching for further clues, Lara finds Penelope’s diary and becomes haunted by visions of a ghostly boy who seems angered at her growing affection for Sheba's brother, Will.

The more Lara reads the diary, the more she begins to realize that certain people resemble those described. One of whom could be Penelope’s killer; back to finish her look-alike.


EXCERPT
The woman who was lying on her bed was beautiful, with hair a reddish gold and a face as pure white and soft as ivory silk. Although bestowed with love and cherished by those who knew her well, she lacked what most would have called "blessed with substantial wealth." Even so, she imagined she could win the affections of an honorable prince, perhaps a count, a true royal, one who could sustain her heart and flourish within her dreams.
She laughed at her foolishness and stroked the small painting of her beloved, decorated in twine and rose petals she had weaved throughout the night. As she placed a finger to his lips, she marveled at the likeness, wondering if she truly was a gifted artist.
But it was inevitable she would paint him so. He was etched to her mind. Even with her eyes closed, she could see every curve of his exquisite face, the deep earthly heaven of his eyes and sensuous lips. He had betrayed her, yet she still hungered for his touch, she still longed for the press of his lean physique that made her feel light and feverish.
Of course, the wench he craved was rich and that helped her in gaining his attention.
But Elias was hers. Only hers. Not Penelope Le Roses'.
The young woman sat up and grimaced, distorting her cumbersome features.
With her mind set, she knew what to do. She would cast her spell and severe the bond he'd declared for the imposter once and for all.


Chapter One

The sun shifted to the right and I could see the miles of dusty roads and fewer cars up ahead.
Susan, my step-mom, who now even controlled Dad, had insisted I stay with her Grandmother Gracen for some of the summer. It was why my trip to Pennsylvania was a command I had to adhere to. It was why my teeth had been gritted throughout most of the drive from Delaware.
She had practically packed my bags and shooed me out the door this morning. Dad, as usual, wasn't there to argue in my defense. Not that he would have anyway. He was a renowned surgeon, and had probably been placing a new kidney donor as I chugged out of our driveway; my suitcases packed and my date of return unknown.
Ever since Mom left to be with her personal trainer five years ago, Dad barely looked at me. He just noticed the poodle haired blonde he liked to call Flick, the matchstick woman he rushed all the way home to have candlelight dinners with as I sulked in my room.
Stopping at the nearest gas station that looked as if it hadn't been visited since the seventies, I took a short break then set off again. It wasn't long before dotted aspens and maples no longer concealed the entryway to Gracen's large estate. Terra-cotta stone and the edges of a lavish roof were just about visible. I was told Gracen came from a line of successful merchants and oil diggers. It was why she considered herself a cut above the rest of the residents of Spring Mills. Her inherited wealth was the only thing to keep me from pulling up and hyperventilating.
After parking my cherry red Mustang in the pebble driveway, I took in the place. The mansion was breathtaking, complete with a cylinder roof crowned and decorated with golden leaf detail. It reminded me of a centerpiece to a castle.
My smile vanished though as soon as I got out of the car. I sensed I wasn't alone. It was as though someone was watching me, and closely. When I spun around, there was no one around. I rubbed the goose bumps popping up all over my arms and shivered, gasping as a fiery heat crawled from my feet to my neck. The air turned sour next, as if the flowers in the crescent shaped garden were decomposing. The added smell of ash and smoke stung my eyes, and the driveway darkened.  Slowly, the ground became paved, horse hooves clamored and large wheels of a carriage creaked to a halt. A barrage of screams erupted from the nearby forest as flames licked at my waist. 
"Lara. Lara Voight!"
I turned and almost stumbled. The flames disappeared as a man in a black tuxedo came ambling down the stone steps: rake thin and with a silver goatee.
"Lara Voight?" he repeated, getting closer.
"Y-e-s," I stuttered.
"Where are your things?" he asked, looking at my beat up car.
I tried to catch my breath. It was if the wind had been taken out of me. My legs even shook.
What had happened? Was it heat stroke? Five hours on the road could probably do that to a person. I could sue Susan. It was her idea I came all the way to Spring Mills while she "worked things out" with Dad. I was so easy to manipulate.
"In the trunk," I muttered.
The man shook his head without a care for the way I was panting.
"Who are you anyway?" I tried to ask.
"Henry." He held out his hand. His long, boney fingers reminded me of the creature from Alien. "You can give me the keys. I'll take care of your luggage."
I shakily did as asked. It wasn't like I had anything to steal.
"You need to go and see Mrs. Miller before she takes her afternoon nap," he said gruffly. "You're late as it is."
His aggravated tone wasn't appreciated, but it helped me to feel less disturbed by what had happened.
Who was he? Why was there a strange old man in Gracen's home? Was he a live in lover no one knew about?
"Who are you to Gracen?" I queried, trying to match his clipped tone.
"Her chau-ffer," he said, as if I was too dim to know what that was.
He carelessly dragged my luggage out of the trunk and waved me away. He actually waved.
What a jerk.
I ran up the stone steps to blow off steam before I said something I would regret. I couldn't make an enemy as soon as I arrived.
Inside, the house welcomed me with a cool draft that helped me to breathe a lot easier. The interior was less ambient than expected, with a dark hallway and distressed wood on the floor that was partially bordering the empty walls. My name was called out and I flinched, spinning around. Henry was nowhere in sight.
"Make yourself at home," a nasally voice said from behind me, making me jump.
An old woman in a wheelchair zoomed my way. Salt and pepper curls bounced on broad shoulders. My heart stopped thumping when I realized it was just Gracen. She wasn't overly wrinkly for someone close to her eighties.
"Stare all you like." She harrumphed.
"Sorry. I was—"
"I'm not seventeen, but I have my uses," she added seethingly, parking her wheelchair in front of me and lifting her chin. "As you can see, I'm Gracen Miller."
"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Miller."
"You may as well call me Gracen for now." She grimaced. "Follow me, Lorna."
"It's Lara."
"Same thing."
Balling my hands into fists, I watched her wheel away from me. The woman was reminding me of Susan already.
The rectangular room we entered had mismatched furniture cluttered like bonfire piles on either side. Collectable items such as tribal masks, globes of the world, and ceramic Chinese figurines, confused the theme that might have been in mind when decorated.
Unlike the foyer, the walls were lined with watercolor paintings of naked damsels and huntsmen clasping large rifles. Beneath these were pleasant enough antique tables and cabinets. A chessboard beside a mustard leather couch, though, clashed with the pea green walls. It looked like someone hadn’t a clue how to coordinate.
"My husband, Charles, was a prideful hunter," Gracen said as if to explain. "Would you care for a drink?" She began to pour a murky orange concoction into a tall blue glass.
I was suspicious of the act of kindness. It wasn't like I got along with her granddaughter to be made to feel welcome. No. I felt extra wary. It was totally unfair of Dad to make me stay here in some stranger's home. I was even more wary of Gracen's choice of beverage. But the last few hours in my non-air conditioned cocoon had dried out my throat too much to care in the end.
I waited for her to hand me my drink. Gracen supped it herself before pouring herself another glass. I tapped my fingers on my pants as way to a hint that I was getting impatient. Gracen made the effort to glance at me before pouring a third drink, yet only halfway before roughly handing it to me. Then off she wheeled again, almost riding over my sandaled toes.
"Sit," she commanded, pointing her crooked finger at a biege leather couch.
I sipped what was thankfully just ice tea.
"Let's start with a few questions, shall we?" She eyed me.
I nodded, hoping to get on her good side; if she had one that is.
"Susan tells me you're a spoiled brat."
I almost spat out my drink but somehow kept smiling. "It depends on what you think is spoiled."
She harrumphed in that horrible, condescending way of hers. "Do you bathe often?"
Seriously? "Um. Yes."
"Do you smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, dabble in drugs?"
Maybe this was literally a test. "No."
Her bushy eyebrows rose in insinuation. "Are you promiscuous?"
My jaw dropped. "Excuse me?"
"Just answer the question."
"No."
"No, you won't answer the question, or no you're not promiscuous?"
"No, I'm not promiscuous."


Friday, May 22, 2015

Addicted to Writing Presents Friday's Featured Title: Spirit of Love by J. L. Addicoat


Author: J. L. Addicoat
ISBN: 978-1-62420-067-0
Email: jladdicoat@gmail.com

Genre: Paranormal/Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level:

Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Old buildings have an eerie haunting feeling, and the 17th Century Manor house in the Cornish countryside Julia intends to restore, is no exception. Originally her dead husband’s dream, she feels it’s up to her to complete it in his memory. When she arrives, she realizes it’ll take more than a quick clean to put the dilapidated old Manor to rights.
While exploring the house, she feels as someone, or something, is watching her. Darting shadows and movements, seen from the corner of her eyes, seem to confirm sinister happenings at the Manor in the past. The discovery of an old diary hidden in a chest of drawers and the story it tells, lead Julia in a different direction than she originally thought she would be taking.

EXCERPT

A sense of foreboding settled in Julia's stomach as she quickly returned to the car. She didn't know what it was about the manor, but each time she visited, the hair stood up on the back of her neck. It felt as if something or someone was watching her.
Starting the car's engine, she drove slowly down the weedy, rutted path, the car bouncing as its wheels sank into the potholes. Julia cringed at the jolts and scraping sounds coming from underneath the vehicle. "I should never have sold the Landcruiser. What was I thinking, bringing the Jag?" She knew what she had been thinking. She was the Mistress of the Manor now, and wanted to show off.
As she bumped along through the avenue of trees, the manor revealed itself. Grey stone blocks of the fa├žade gave a haunting welcome. Julia swallowed a lump in her throat and tears pricked her eyes. It wasn't right. Richard should have been here with her. He'd wanted to restore the old mansion for a while. This was his dream house.
Instead, it had become his burial place.
She'd promised, while she knelt at his graveside, to restore the old manor in his memory. That had been two years ago. The memories of the time still haunted her. Grief and loneliness had held her back. Mentally, she felt stronger now, and able to accept having to carry on alone. "Get a grip on yourself Julia. It's an old house. It's bound to have a few creaks and groans."
Parking the Jag next to the front door, she unpacked, placing the bags in front of the massive wooden doors. The leering gargoyle face on the door knocker sent a shiver through her. Placing a hand over its face so she wouldn't have to look at it, Julia turned the door key in the lock and pushed the door open.
She'd never been inside the manor. Richard had gone inside, but she had stayed outside in the gardens. Just the look of the grey stone on the outside gave her an eerie feeling. The same feeling assailed her now. She glanced back. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. Something or someone was watching her. She was sure of it.
Get inside and shut the door. Then they won't be able to see you. Quickly picking up her bags she kicked a small bag forward with her foot, in an effort to get everything inside and shut the door. After closing it, she turned around and gasped. The entrance opened in front of her. Large marble tiles covered the floor, with the roof looming high above. A hand-carved wooden staircase in front of her wound its way to the first floor.
Oh, Richard. If you could only see this as I am now. I can see you running up the stairs, sliding your hands over the banisters and pulling up the carpet to see the wood underneath. I can see the delight in your eyes.
She ran her fingers over a nearby wall. Tracing the raised wallpaper patterns with her fingertips brought a sense of loss, a heaviness to her heart. She could feel the loneliness of the building. To her, it felt neglected, like it hadn't been loved for quite a while. Like her. Great, now you're associating yourself with a building. A moldy, musty stench emanated from the old, red, patterned carpet on the stairs, and she wrinkled her nose at the smell.
Once, people had walked up and down the rich, red-carpeted staircase. She could imagine children sliding down its curved railing, laughing as they reached the curled end, then running back up the stairs again for another trip. She smiled at the visualization it brought to her mind.
Now, the only footsteps it felt were from the mice chewing holes in its carpet, showing the bare wooden boards underneath. Yes, this is a very sad house indeed. As she turned left into what appeared to be the library, she caught a shadowy movement from the corner of her eye. She spun and glanced around, but nothing was there.
"Hello, is anyone there?" Silence was her answer. Maybe a bird had flown in through a broken window somewhere? She shook her head, chiding herself for being silly and so jumpy. She laughed to herself. I'll be seeing ghosts next. A cold shiver ran through her at the thought.
Turning back, she walked into the library. Stopping just inside the door, Julia closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. She could smell the books. Even if she had been blind, the aroma of the old paper would have told her exactly which room she was in. Bookcases lined the walls from the floor to the ceiling. They were full of dusty tomes, maps, and leather clad books. Lifting the dust covers off chairs and furniture as she walked around the room, she couldn't believe so much was still here. With a flick of her hand on a cloth, she uncovered a beautiful walnut sideboard. The glass was intact, as well. It'd look wonderful after she had given it a polish, she thought to herself. Old oil paintings hung in spaces on the walls, created just for them.
She stood in the center of the room and slowly turned in a circle. It dawned on her how much work was actually needed. Cleaning she could do, but she wouldn't be able to do it all herself. Help would have to be brought in, especially for the wiring and plumbing. Julia lowered herself into one of the chairs, realizing finally, the enormity of the job ahead of her.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Addicted to Writing Presents: The Wager by Christine Young on sale $0.99


Christine Young
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level:

Buy at Amazon


BLURB:

Amorica Hepburn was sent to London to find a husband. However, finding a man was the last item on her agenda. With her two cousins, Amorica wagers she can dissuade her suitor before the others. Despite her efforts she discovers a chemistry that cannot be denied. Suddenly she is the arrogant man's wife, pledged to a marriage neither desire. But swept off to his ancestral home above the Dover cliffs and into his strong embrace, Amorica is soon possessed by a raging passion for the husband she had vowed to despise…

Damian Andrews couldn't afford to trust the emerald-eyed spitfire who happened upon his secret. Amorica's hatred of all men of his kind only inflames the war that rages between them. Still, he can not control the intense desire his stubborn bride inspires, or make her surrender to his will until he has conquered the headstrong beauty on the battlefield of love…

EXCERPT

Coast of England 1816

"It's a bloody cursed day." Damian Andrews swept the child into his arms and waded through the pounding surf to the beach. He braced himself against the out-going current then sloshed through the crashing waves. Salt spray clung to the wind, stinging his nostrils.

Damian turned. Beneath his ribs, his heart pounded the cadence hard and fast. He swore again as he watched the captain shout orders to his crew. The French brandy that was supposed to have arrived this night would have to wait.

Standing in the longboat, the captain of the ship that brought the brandy as well as the political refugees from the Germanies held a torch aloft--the only light in the vast darkness. "Hurry, laddie. We have human cargo tonight and the tide is changing."

A little girl whimpered.

Damian pulled her into his arms, bent on protecting her at all cost.

"It's all right. You will all be together soon." The smuggling of French brandy was a cover for the cause that meant so much to him. Religious and political refugees--at times it seemed they came in droves. All were seeking a better life. A life of freedom. "Your mother is coming as well as your baby brother. You will all be safe."

Damian looked to the captain. "The father?" he queried.

"He didn't come with his family. He said he had one more thing to do. You must hurry."

The child leaned into Damian, her little face nuzzling his shoulder, her silent sobs gut-wrenching. He pulled her closer, cursing at the elements as well as mankind and wishing he could find a way to shield the tiny child from all harm. He knew the feat to be impossible. The little girl touched a place in his heart and for a moment filled that broken space with light. Yes, the mother would be with her children, but why had the father stayed where his life was in peril? He had learned long ago one could come to regret rash actions. And he'd also learned one could lose all chance at love in one instant.

Lord, but he'd lost his concentration and in losing that, he could well lose his edge.

No secrets-- no lies. The thought haunted him.

His life was a lie, but he would change nothing until his penance was paid. A constant drizzle soaked him to the skin. The wind sent goose bumps rising on his arms. He reached shore and handed the girl over to Aric Lakeland, a trusted friend and accomplice in this night's work, then turned and walked back to the longboat. Her baby brother as well as her mother waited.

He had never meant to get involved. It was the greatest of ironies that he was here now. He'd been a man who loved his family and his home.

He'd been content but that seemed years ago--a life time.

It felt like centuries.

The captain spoke, his voice hushed. "Hurry, now, Master Damian.

It's the watch. They are due to ride by here any time now. The patrols have doubled these last few weeks. I fear it's not as safe as it used to be." The captain handed over the baby wrapped in blankets. Damian stared at the child. The babe couldn't be a year old. The child didn't make a sound, not even a whimper.

This was injustice, a travesty. He looked at the mother. "Can you make it on your own?" He prayed the fragile lady standing before him had more courage than she appeared to have. She nodded and with the captain's help, she stepped into the ocean, struggling for balance. Yet her shoulders were squared and her spine stiff.

As soon as the captain placed the babe in Damian's arms and the three of them were headed for land, he gave orders. Two sailors rowed out to sea, moving toward the black ship that rose and fell on the distant waves.

On a cliff above, the dark silhouette of a third man, Ryder McClaren, could be seen for a brief moment. He waved his arms then disappeared into the shadows once more.

"Hurry," Damian bade the mother, his hand resting on the small of her back, urging her forward.