Tuesday 30 June 2020


Title: Jagger
Series: Steele Shadow Investigations
Author: Amanda McKinney
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: 18th June 2020

BLURB supplied by Xpresso Book Tour

Secrets, lies, deceit… A former Navy SEAL turned homicide detective has met his match in this new *standalone* addition to the number #1 Bestselling Steele Shadows Series…

He found her covered in blood.
She promises she’s innocent.
The question is… Can he trust her?

Feared just as much on the streets as at a crime scene, Homicide Detective Max Jagger has dedicated his life to one thing—speaking for the dead. Everyone and everything else be damned, including his own demons. During one of the most oppressive heat waves to hit the small, southern town of Berry Springs, the former Navy SEAL is called to a scene where a real estate heiress is found standing over a dead body, holding the murder weapon. The local cops immediately dub it a slam-dunk case, but if Jagg has learned anything from his days running special ops, it’s that nothing is as it seems… including this suspect.

Despite her name, Sunny Harper is as beguiling as a fallen angel. Clever, cunning, completely unwilling to cooperate, and, perhaps his least favorite quality—mind-numbingly intoxicating. When evidence from the scene suggests an accomplice, Jagg begins to believe that Sunny is both innocent and in danger, despite the towns’ uproar to lock her up. Torn between his growing feelings for his suspect, he takes Sunny to a secluded lake house where he discovers there’s much more behind those enchanting green eyes… including secrets that could take them both under.

With his career on the line and the clock ticking, Jagg must decide if he can trust Sunny… before they both get burned.


Amanda McKinney is the #1 bestselling and multi-award-winning author of more than ten steamy romantic suspense and mystery novels. She wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, in 2017 after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Set in small, southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning murder mysteries packed with steamy romance.

Her books include the HOT new bestselling series, STEELE SHADOWS SECURITY, the multi-award-winning BERRY SPRINGS series and BLACK ROSE MYSTERIES.

Text AMANDABOOKS to 66866 to receive Amanda’s newsletter and get the latest on new releases, promos, and freebies!

Can you please tell us a little about your new book Jagger in 30 words or less?
Jagger (Steele Shadows Investigations) is a sexy, enemies-to-lovers murder mystery about a Navy SEAL turned homicide detective whose world is turned upside by his suspect, a mysterious, beguiling fallen angel.

In your Goodreads Author details the genres you write are listed as Romance, Mystery & Thriller, which of those is your favourite genre to write & why?
I’m a sucker for romantic suspense/mystery. I love the delicate mix of romance, intrigue and heart-pounding suspense, and of course the grand finale of it all, the happily ever after ending. And let’s be honest, a swoon-worthy hero doesn’t hurt either.

How did you get your ideas for Jagger?
The Steele Shadows series was an unplanned spin-off from the Berry Springs Series. I like to think of it as Berry Springs’ steamer, darker, grittier, bad-boy brother. The series was created when I finally submitted to the unrelenting voice in my head telling me to write something more intense, more emotional, and more alpha. With blind faith, I wrote Cabin 1, which became my first #1 bestseller. The character in Jagger (Steele Shadows Investigations) is introduced in Cabin 1 and carried throughout the series. Jagger is a sexy, small-town murder mystery about two very different strangers who come together to solve a murder, not realizing they are about to engage in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a ruthless killer. It’s got it all—hot romance, murder, mystery, and even a bit of small-town folklore and witchery!

Did you have to any specific research for Jagger? If so what/how did you do it?
Yes! I was very lucky to have open communication with a local detective while outlining Jagger. My respect for that job tripled. The emotional weight of being a homicide or sex crimes detective is at a level most people won’t ever experience. The job truly is speaking for the dead while reliving the evil that was inflicted upon them. It’s telling their story and getting them justice. I imagine it is impossible not to take that kind of work home with you. If you’ve read my previous books, you know that most of the heroes in my books are first responders, former military or service men. I come from a long line of military men and woman and I truly believe that soldiers, combat veterans, and first responders carry a shield of armor that others simply don’t, and this manifests in many different ways within each person (all those layers and layers!). I have the utmost respect for them and I hope that shines through in my writing.

Who designed the Cover of Jagger? Do you have a lot of input into the process?
Steamy Reads Designs—otherwise known as THE BEST! I had a blast working with Maria. I am a total control freak and she was able to combine my jumbled thoughts into a design that was exactly what I saw in my head. I highly recommend them.

Do you have a specific place and/or routine where you choose to sit & write?
I’m someone who loves schedules, plans, and consistency. Spontaneity scares the crap out of me. So I keep myself on a tight schedule packed with deadlines. I write every day, no matter what. I find that this helps keep the same tone through the book, and keeps my creative juices flowing. There’s nothing more frustrating than opening my computer and staring at the screen for thirty minutes trying to figure out what my next word should be. Writing every day helps to avoid that. I also have a daily word goal, and I’m pretty hard-core about meeting it. I’ve been known to set my alarm for 3 a.m. to get in some writing time before the kids wake. Thanks to this restless nature, I can usually write book a book in a few months.

Do you, basic plot/plan for each individual book in the series, before you actually begin writing it all out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story? 
When I begin a new project, the first thing I do is write a detailed outline—bulleted, of course. Although the story develops as I go, I try to stick to that outline as much as possible. I’ve realized that if I don’t, the story becomes scattered, filled with major plot holes. And no one likes a massive plot hole.

What can we expect from you next and in the future?
2020 is going to be a big year for the McKinney Machine! I’m continuing Steel Shadows Investigations with Jagger’s brother’s story, Ryder, coming this fall. I am so excited to continue these character’s stories! The books will have everything you’d expect in a McKinney novel—hot romance, alpha males, strong females, fast-paced suspense and mystery, but will be standalone novels. No cliffhangers! The best way to keep up to date on my new releases is to sign up for my newsletter on my website.


Monday 29 June 2020


Title: GENES
Series: ISAN
Author: Mary Ting
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, YA
Release Date: 30th June 2020

BLURB supplied by Xpresso Book Tours

Allegiances will be tested.
Identities will be revealed.
No one is safe.

While searching for the HelixB88 anti-serum on the black market, Ava uncovers valuable intel that may help the rebels in their fight to bring down ISAN—the location of a hidden facility. But first, the insurgents must find the female citizens unexpectedly displaying powers without use of the Helix serum before ISAN captures them.

As the rebels join forces with other sectors, ISAN plans their destruction by using someone they don’t suspect at the rebel home base. A traitor within.

Now, Ava must make a dangerous decision, one that could risk their capture—or worse.

International Bestselling, Award-Winning Author Mary Ting writes soulful, spellbinding stories that excite the imagination and captivate readers all over the world. Her books run a wide range of genres: science fiction, fantasy, and swoon worthy stories. Her storytelling talents have won her a devoted legion of fans and garnered critical praise.
Mary was born in Seoul Korea and resides in Southern California with her husband, two children, and two dogs—Mochi and Mocha. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Becoming an author was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, she retired from teaching after twenty years.

First of all I can't believe how long ago it was that I first interviewed you, Mary! When I first started blogging in 2011 I think you were one of my first ever Author Interviews. . . so welcome back!
How cool is that. Now it’s 2020. Next year will be my 10th year. Crazy. But I love that I was one of your first. Thank you so much!

For readers new to your ISAN series can you tell us a little about it?
Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into our quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council. 

Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum, Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network. 
This is a general idea. So much happens with each book.

How many books with there be in your ISAN series? 
GENES is the third book. There will be total of five. CODE is book 4, release date May 2021. You are the first to know LOL.

How did you choose the individual book titles and series titles for the ISAN series?
ISAN (Book 1 and the name of the series)  ISAN stands for International Sensory Assassin Network. Their super powers are related to sensory functions.
Helix—HelixB77  The name of the serum. Helix, Batch, 77th that was successful.
GENES- Genetically Enhanced Neo Entity Subject.

I know that your Crossroads Series is very special to you, and why, but other than you Crossroads series do you have a favourite amongst your other series and why?
That’s a hard question. However, I have to say that ISAN is special to me because it’s my first series that’s been published with an amazing publisher. And it’s been option for a movie/TV.

Who designed the Covers of your ISAN series? Do you have a lot of input into the process?
My publisher did the cover. I was able to give input.

Did you have to do a lot of research for your ISAN series?
I did some research for ISAN, and for book four I’m working on currently. And in book five, the rebels go to South, Korea and meet up with the rebels there. I’ll be writing about a specific place in Korea. It’s easier to write about a place where you’ve been.

Is writing something that becomes easier the more books you write?
I have to say that I’m a better writer than I was nine years ago. I’ve also learned much when I worked with the publisher’s editor.

Do you have a favourite genre you prefer writing?
I love writing all genres but my favorite is fantasy.

What can we expect from you in the future? More books of ISAN series.
CODE, book 4 will be released in May 2021. And a sweet, clean contemporary romance book called When the Wind Chimes, release date November 10th of this year. And many more to come I can’t share just yet.

Below is the blurb for ...
When the Wind Chimes.
Kaitlyn Summers is heartbroken.
When she receives an invitation to spend Christmas with her family on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, she feels it may be the perfect medicine.
She throws herself into helping her sister’s struggling art gallery, even taking a temporary job for extra money by looking after a little girl from her nephew’s school. She also begins to paint again, something she’s been unable to do since her breakup. It’s tempting to stay on Kauai, but she has obligations back in Los Angeles.
Life gets more complicated when circumstances keep putting her close to Leonardo Medici. Not only is he drop-dead gorgeous, he’s a local celebrity. But Kaitlyn can’t shake the feeling he’s hiding something.
Should she believe the rumors that he’s romancing half the island’s single women?

Or is the random sound of wind chimes when he’s close-by a sign that an angel is near and the secret to her happily ever after?

(Being published in November 2020)



Friday 26 June 2020


Title: Awen Storm
Series: Awen Trilogy
Author: O.J. Barré
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 1st June 2020

BLURB supplied by Silver Dagger Book Tours
In 2042, Reptilian aliens plot to destroy Humanity.

The Awen Order of Druids has named Emily Hester as its new leader. Unfortunately, she's no heroine, and her magic needs work. Her long-awaited date with the druid priest has ended in disaster. Now she's stranded on a ledge in Zoo Atlanta with a dragon breathing down her neck.

Worse, the Reptilians are amassing inside the planet. They despise humans. They have no souls. And if they find a way out, our world is doomed. Can Emily escape and seize her magical powers? Or will Earth be left to the mercy of these monsters?

Awen Storm is the second book in the delightful Awen trilogy. If you like original stories with imperfect heroines, you’ll love O. J. Barré’s pre-apocalyptic urban fantasy with engaging characters, intriguing world-building, and a fascinating storyline.

To visit the near-future in which a secret society of druids defends Earth, and reptilian aliens rule the vast world beneath us, buy Awen Storm today.

**On Sale now for only $2.99!**

Title: Awen Rising
Series: Awen Trilogy
Author: O.J. Barré
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 26th July 2019

BLURB supplied by Silver Dagger Book Tours
In 2042, evil Reptilian aliens plot to destroy Humanity. Only one Druid can save our world.

Everything is going wrong for Emily Hester. She's lost her fiancé, her nerve, and her career as a Disaster Specialist. Now a storm wielding witch is on her trail. She needs a new identity and somewhere to run.

What Emily doesn’t know is that the Awen Order of Druids is searching for her. Nor that she’s their only hope for saving the world. Can the druids’ dragon keepers find Emily in time to claim her legacy? Or will the reptilian horde overwhelm our world?

Awen Rising is the first book in the exciting Awen trilogy. If you like original stories with imperfect heroines, you’ll love O. J. Barré’s pre-apocalyptic urban fantasy set in a magical world with explosive action, strong-willed characters, and a great plot.

To be whisked away to the near-future with druids and dragons, and nasty reptilians with technology that rivals ours, buy your copy of Awen Rising today.

**On Sale now for only $2.99!**
Amazon UK



Emily Mayhall stared out the window, determined to ignore the letter. Below her, the Pacific
Ocean sparkled Caribbean-green in the early afternoon sun. A stiff onshore breeze whipped whitecaps on the waves and hungry pelicans dove for lunch, while the homeless of Venice Beach worked the boardwalk. Or at least, what was left of it.
Most of them lived in the block-long chasm that loomed in the distance; an area once known as Muscle Beach. Her team had been the first on-scene after that chunk of coastline had vanished. Emily shivered. It was one thing to chase disasters for a living. It was another when they happened in your own backyard.
In spite of her intentions, Emily’s gaze drifted to the registered letter that mocked her from its perch amid the clutter on the counter. It had been there all week and at the postal store before that. Sighing, she decided she had suffered long enough. Opening it couldn’t be worse than imagining what misery it might bring.
Rising from the overstuffed armchair, she crossed to the counter and lifted the official-looking envelope in the air. For the umpteenth time, she gazed at it intently, trying to divine the message within.
As usual, Emily divined nothing.
It grated that she’d thrown away precious dollars to develop a sensing ability Shalane had insisted she possessed. That she had listened to the shaman in the first place was part of the rub. Regaining the self-esteem her mother’s tongue had taken from her was difficult enough. Avoiding others with the same agenda was harder still. On the surface, they looked like everyone else.
Emily eyed the letter. If it was a debt that hadn’t been listed in her already-discharged bankruptcy, the creditor was up shits creek. That’s what her Canadian friend would say if Emily were to solicit her advice. Of course, she hadn’t. And couldn’t. Not without giving her new identity away.
Dismissing the guilt, Emily ripped open the envelope and searched the solitary sheet of linen for an unpaid balance due. There were no numbers, just a request to contact the office of Mitchell Albom Wainwright III Esquire, whose address was in Atlanta, Georgia. The letter was dated January 11, 2042, more than a month ago. What did Mitchell Albom Wainwright the Third want?
She folded the paper, stuffed it back in the envelope, and tossed it on the counter. Outside, the surf broke over the jetty, sending spray dancing high against the blue sky.
The wave washed inland and surged back toward the sea, stirring a need in Emily that was palpable. It was a crystal-clear day and she could think of no better cure for the fear that plagued her. She needed to run.
Fishing sunglasses and her lone key from the bottom of her purse, she stopped to hug Ralph. He mewed and blinked sleepy amber eyes, pretending to be annoyed. His purring told her otherwise. She planted a kiss on the spot between his cheek and ear.
“Bye, Ralphy. I’m going for a run.”
He yawned and stretched on the back of the armchair, then set about licking the fur she had mussed. He was OCD like that, a compulsive washer. The two of them made a fine pair.
Scanning the tiny apartment, Emily dug beneath papers to retrieve a worn headband. Only a few boxes dotted the floor of the three rooms. The furniture was gone except for the bed and armchair. The maintenance guy had promised to take those.
“Back soon, Raf-feller!” Emily called as she turned the two bottom locks and the deadbolt.
A damp wind greeted her, lifting curls the color of crimson and gold, and with them, Emily’s spirits. Inhaling deeply, she savored the briny tang of the ocean air.
An aging gull landed on the railing beside her, mewing as if greeting an old friend. Another swooped down and started a ruckus, no doubt sensing a mark in the making. Disappointed when Emily had nothing for them to eat, they raced to the beach screaming challenges at one another before continuing the search for a handout.
Smiling at their antics, she braced her hands on the low stucco wall and leaned against it to rise on tippy-toes, stretching her calves. A long, high whistle shrilled from the nearby Bottle Brush tree. Amid its fluffy red blooms, a parrot mimicked Emily’s movements, yellow head bobbing up and down.
She placed her foot midway up the wall, leaned into a thigh stretch, and squatted before stretching her abdominal muscles. The entire warm-up took only a minute, just long enough for more parrots to join her audience.
“Hello lovelies,” Emily called to the chattering birds. She zipped her jacket and fixed the headband over ears too sensitive to endure the Santa Ana winds.
Fingering the Taser in her jacket pocket, she said a silent prayer she wouldn’t need to use it and dashed down the three flights of stairs to the street. Turning away from the beach, Emily jogged a short block to Pacific Avenue and followed it to the park.
She was sweating by the time she entered the gates, but the cursed letter dogged her, attached to her psyche by a thread of her own weaving. Determined to outrun it, she increased her pace, counting to sync her breath to her stride, “One, two, three, four. Five, six, seven, eight—”
Her toe caught on a lifted corner of sidewalk. Quick reflexes and cat-like agility kept Emily on her feet, but she chomped down hard on her bottom lip, drawing blood. Crying out in pain and frustration that had nothing and everything to do with biting her lip, she ran even faster.
Though buckled and broken by myriad quakes, the neighborhood survived, unrepaired by a government that had run out of money and leadership long ago. Emily spat the blood in the sand beside the trail.
“Budget cuts, my ass.” It was the bullshit reason they’d given for firing her. But it was really because Emily had identified a pattern in the chaos. No sooner had she shared her theory with her boss than she’d been out on her ass with barely a severance package to show for her years of service.
But not before Cyclone Charlotte literally ripped her fiancé from her arms. Emily pressed her tongue against her jagged lip, not wanting to think about Trey. He had saved her life, but it had cost him his.
“Think of the government. Think about Chester. Be mad, goddammit!” Her ex-boss, ex-friend, and one-time lover had sold Emily out. His betrayal wasn’t limited to her dismissal, either. Chester made sure Emily would never work again by having her blacklisted.
She zigged around a barrier and caught a flash of movement. Yanking the Taser from her pocket, Emily dropped to a crouch, heart thudding. It turned out to be her favorite homeless lady, wearing layers of warring colors. Emily relaxed.
The grinning Maude waved and threw her head back in a cackle, revealing gums sporting nary a tooth. Pocketing her weapon, Emily hailed the leather-faced woman and left the erstwhile actress with a crumpled dollar bill.
A fresh gust of wind whipped the flags overhead. They were stacked atop one another and lowered to half-mast. Who had died? Keeping up with politics was a past-time Emily had never pursued. Or politicians, either.
“Actors, now, are a different story,” she muttered to herself, passing the building Caleb MacLaine had reclaimed. She eyed the Einstein posit emblazoned on the side: “Imagination is More Important than Knowledge.”
As a scientist, Emily had no trouble with Einstein’s theories of motion and relativity, or even gravitational waves and wormholes. But she couldn’t fathom how this maxim could possibly be true. Seeking knowledge had been her lifelong pursuit.
At the Muscle Beach Chasm, she detoured through an alley between two mansions. Riotous masses of coastal geraniums and hot-pink bougainvillea spilled over every surface of the patio to her right.
On her left, coastal oaks trailed Spanish moss. One had been given a whimsical face, complete with lips and nose. She waved to the tree-man, grateful Venice Beach had mostly been spared.
Many coastal cities were wiped out completely, leaving gaping sinkholes and putrid pits of ash and rubble and dirty saltwater. Chunks of the California coastline had succumbed to the advancing sea. Nearby Manhattan and Huntington Beaches were both gone, with a million people lost and presumed dead.
Emily had worked those disasters and consulted on others. Pre-Charlotte. Pre-Trey. She had participated in recoveries around the globe, even led a few.
She’d been told she was bossy, but got the job done, working longer and harder than most of her peers. Until six months ago when she’d been handed her walking papers. She snorted with disgust. She’d had her fill of studying disasters anyway.
Which really only meant Emily had lost her nerve.
She cut across an eerily-vacant Bel Air Avenue, fingers gripping the Taser in her pocket. Had more of the locals packed up and left? Many wouldn’t, or couldn’t, in spite of the continued and constant warnings.
Either they’d fooled themselves into thinking the worst was over or prayed it wouldn’t happen to them. Shame stung Emily, knowing she could be counted in their number.
At the precarious shortcut, she slowed to pick her way through the debris to the beach, then jogged a while in the shifting sand. All but the ocean and its wildlife faded. Gulls cavorted in the crashing waves and pelicans dove for an afternoon meal. The salty spray soothed Emily’s soul. The sun coaxed a smile to her lips.
Then the stench of old death assaulted her senses and she stumbled and retched. Unable to not look, Emily bit back a sob for the innocent sea lion rotting on the beach, even as her rapidly-sorting, cataloging brain compared the reek of old death to the shambles of her life at the present.
“Shut up, dammit,” she cried in anguish.
Keeping an eye out for obstacles, she settled into a blistering pace, anxious to escape both life and death. It was something Emily pondered a lot—escape. Change your name, use cash, stay off the grid. With a new identity and tricks her mother had perfected, even a novice could disappear.
So, reeling from Trey’s death and Shalane’s unwanted advances, Emily had assumed a new identity. One taken from the ledger in her mother’s box. She had chosen the first name on a long list of aliases they used over the years, and Ebby Panera became Emily Mayhall.
But she wasn’t her mother and living this way felt wrong. On New Year’s Eve, alone and lonely, Emily had resolved to find her true self and to be it no matter what. So far, she hadn’t a clue what that was.
Unease stirred in the pit of her stomach. She glanced over both shoulders and detoured inland. Unbidden, a puzzle she’d been pondering earlier snicked into place. Her mother’s box, the registered letter, and the recurring dreams were all connected. They had to be.
The day she’d signed for the registered letter, Emily had tossed it on the counter unopened. But a compulsion to retrieve her mother’s wooden box from its hiding place had seized her and wouldn’t let go.
She had fallen asleep leafing through a remarkably-preserved papyrus tome contained within. Delicate hand-drawings of dragons, birds, and animals, along with maps of places that no longer existed filled the pages in a flowing, lacy hand. The language was so cryptic Emily had yet to discover its origins. Not that she had tried very hard.
Upon falling asleep that night, the dreams had come in fits and spurts so urgent Emily woke in a sweat. Each time she had fallen back asleep, the dreams continued.
In every dream, she was a druid priestess in times gone by, fighting to save the life of one man. A royal who would be both her destiny and downfall. An unknowing diverter of disasters.
Clearing the last line of beach cottages, Emily faltered when a curtain of sand pelted her face. Sputtering, she brushed the grit away, along with the haunting dreams, the box, and the letter. She would think about those later.
She pounded the boardwalk, lungs laboring, and avoided the eyes of the few locals who scurried to let her pass. In the distance, her destination bobbed into view. Battered and shorter than its original length, the Venice Pier jutted reassuringly into the agitated sea.
Pumping harder, she ignored the pain that pierced her side and rounded the point. A woman with blond, flyaway hair appeared in her path. Unable to stop or even slow down, Emily plowed into her, ears assaulted by a sharp squeal as they tumbled to the ground. Fire shot up Emily’s forearm as her palms bore the brunt of her fall.
Beneath her groaned a female version of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, eyes clenched tight. Fear turned Emily’s innards to liquid and her adrenaline spiked. Leaping to her feet, she dashed away pulling her hood over her head.
Of all the french-fried luck. The woman she had bowled over was none other than her stalker, Shalane Carpenter. Shaman, sorceress, evangelist, creep.
“Come back, you fucking lunatic!” Shalane screeched after Emily. “Come back here, you—” Wind and distance garbled the rest.
Emily sped for the cover of the decrepit pier, praying Shalane hadn’t seen her face. When the path dumped her on the far side of the jetty, she bent to gulp air, lungs blazing. On legs of rubber, and guts threatening to hurl, she sidled to a bench and doubled over in pain.
“I think I ruptured something,” she gasped.
An unkempt veteran leapt from the bench, accusing eyes frantic beneath black, bushy brows. He backed away quickly, putting several cracked spans of concrete between them.
If Emily could have laughed, she would have. Instead she sucked in air and fought to keep from losing her meager lunch. She collapsed on the seat the homeless man had vacated and tucked chilled hands beneath sweaty armpits. Soon the fuzziness faded from her sight and she no longer felt like puking.
When there was still no sign of Shalane, Emily told herself the run-in was coincidental. The shaman hadn’t known it was her.
Though far from convinced, a satisfied sigh escaped Emily’s lips. The jog might have brought her close to discovery, but it had eased the unbearable tension building in her chest since the dreams began.
Slouching low, Emily stared at the sea. Waves broke angry against the reef a hundred yards out, whipped to a frenzy by yet another storm brewing in the Pacific Ocean. Swells upward of ten feet slapped the underside of the pier before rushing to the beach. Onlookers gathered to watch a pair in wetsuits battle the big surf.
Emily dug a fist into her side and groaned when the letter popped in her head.
“Go away!” she demanded, wishing her brain would obey.
It wasn’t like Emily had any credit left to ruin. Not after losing her job and the resultant bankruptcy. She had a little cash from the sale of her stuff. But come Friday it was official—she would be out on the street with no job, no home, and nowhere to go.
And now, in spite of all her many precautions, Emily’s stalker likely knew her whereabouts. She swiveled to search both ends of the boardwalk. No Shalane.
But her relief was short-lived. The deeper, primitive ache of destitution twisted Emily’s gut. She wrapped her arms around her scuffed knees and buried her face, willing the dam not to break. If it did, the tears might never stop.
Ahhh-wen.” At the edge of awareness, a musical voice crooned the name from Emily’s dreams.
Her head jerked up, startling a gull that was picking through a metal waste can. On a shriek, it took flight and wheeled toward the sea. Shivers danced along the nape of Emily’s neck. Who else knew about Awen?
The number of surfers and spectators was growing, but no likely culprits there. Maybe it was a snatch of a song on the salt-laced breeze. Or was Emily hearing things, on top of everything else?
“Stay in the moment,” she muttered with a calm she didn’t feel. “Now is all that matters. Those people are okay. That gull is okay. That homeless man is okay. Shalane didn’t see you, so you’re okay, too. Now quit the waterworks and stop freaking.”
In defiance, her mind conjured the aqua clunker Emily had purchased after the bank repossessed her sexy little coupe. Tears blurred her vision and Emily rubbed her face briskly in her hands. The salt-eaten sedan had a large back seat. Which was good, considering her collision put the kibosh on her plan to seek refuge at the Venice Mission.
Replaying the crash in her head, Emily had to grin. It’d felt good to deck that sadistic bitch, even if by accident. Only now she would have to get away from here, money or no money. And as Emily Mayhall, she didn’t know a soul. Not here or anywhere else.
A long-forgotten scent jolted her awareness and was gone before Emily could give it a name.
Ahhh-wen.” More thought than sound, the druid moniker tickled her inner ear. Baffled, she stood to search the boardwalk, the beach, and the sea.
A new and different foreboding crept upon her, more disturbing than Shalane or homelessness. Like molten metal, it trickled slowly down Emily’s spine and spread through her body, triggering her instinct to run.

O.J. Barré hails from the lushly forested, red-clay hills near Atlanta, Georgia. From birth, O.J. was a force of nature. Barefoot and freckled, headstrong and gifted, she was, and is, sensitive to a fault. Books became her refuge as a young child, allowing O.J. to escape her turbulent alcoholic home on adventures to untold places and times. Her daddy's mother was a Willoughby, making O.J. a direct descendant of William the Conqueror. Her Awen series is a love letter to that distant past.


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