Take A Chance On Love With "The Wager"


The Wager
(A Sisters of Scandal Novella)
Author:  Lily Maxton
Format:  ERC 
Length:  80 pages
Publisher:  Entangled/Scandalous
Rating:  5 Stars

London, 1818
 Anne Middleton never plays by the rules. She is willful when she should be obedient and unabashed when she should be decorous. Worse still, she can never resist a good wager... or a very naughty book. And Confessions of a Courtesan is about as sensational and risque as a book can be. Michael Grey - Earl of Thornhill - had once courted Anne's sweet and modest sister. But whilst Anne is certainly no lady of decorum, her bold impulsiveness slips through his armor, and propriety is forgotten. Now he too is immersed in the book of forbidden delights, where each page is an invitation to sin and a guide to pleasures unknown... Roused by heady desire, Michael tempts Anne in a way she cannot resist - a wager. Thus begins a game of chance, where coins have been replaced by a currency that is far more illicit. And the stakes of seduction are dangerous indeed... A Scandalous Novella
-Goodreads

My Thoughts
Outspoken, fiery, and still ever the lady.  Young Anne Middleton is used to being bested by her much sought after sister Elizabeth; when it comes to the game of love.  Little does she know however, that one harmless wager, and the chance meeting that results, will lead her to a game of passion where the stakes are no less than "winner takes all."

"The Wager" takes a decidedly flirty approach to the Regency Romance.
Thrown together by their shared interest in a certain erotic tome; Michael Grey, Earl of Thornhill, and Lady Anne, find themselves swept away by a most unexpected passion.

The heat level of this tale is a slow simmer; with the author choosing to rely on character chemistry and excellent player repartee, in lieu of the convenience of torrid sex scenes. Readers are allowed to enjoy the process of their leading man and his lady "falling in like".
Yes, these two actually become friends first.
A wonderful case of the big story in the delightfully readable package.
Michael and Anne are sure to make you smile, warm your heart, and maybe even convince you to take a gamble on love.



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Deflowering "Virgin" Could Prove To Be A Very Thorny Endeavor


Title: Virgin
Author:  Radhika Sanghani
Format:  ERC
Length:  304 pages
Publisher:  Berkley
Rating:  3 Stars

This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.
-Goodreads

MyThoughts
"Virgin" is the rather quirky story of 21-year old Ellie Kolstakis, and her angst-filled quest to stamp her V-card "expired".
This is intended as a very cute and light hearted read.
Sadly, however intentions and execution don't always good bedfellows make.

From the way that our put upon heroine talks, you'd think that she is sporting a hump, no teeth, and skin just three shades shy of "horned toad green".  When in truth, her only problem really seems to be a bad case of " I have absolutely no idea what I'm working with...or how to use it."
What Ellie does have,it seems, is an annoying penchant for riding the self deprecation train from cute and endearing to vapid and maudlin.
And said train blazes a deep and very wide trail through this entire read.

Adding to the tomfoolery, are Ellie's two over sexed friends who never miss an opportunity to:
A.  Give her bad advice.
B.  Flaunt their varied but less than stellar exploits.
C.  Try and fail to help at every turn.

That is not to say that there are not some chuckle worthy moments mixed in among the emotional fits and and starts.  It is, in fact, these spontaneous moments of levity that are the saving grace for the story.
Unfortunately, there is a rather large "sea of woe" that one is forced to cross before the respites of self realization and common sense come into view.

*This review was first written and submitted to http://NightOwl reviews.com


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Red & Wolfe 4 Gives A Whole New Meaning To "Happily Ever After"


Title:  Red & Wolfe pt. IV 
(An Erotic Fairytale)
Author:  Ella James
Format:  Kindle
Length:  112 pages
Publisher:  Barkley's Books
Rating:  5 Stars


Return to Rabbit Island for the heart-pounding conclusion to Red and Wolfe's story. Don't forget your extra panties - but this time, you might also want to bring your gun. 



*This is a serial novella of approximately 30,000 words.*


My Thoughts
Let me preface this review by saying that I am writing this at 1:56 a.m., and that I may or may not still be suffering the effects of my Red & Wolfe induced book high.

With that being said,
I must warn you that this will not be my usual, detail ladened review.
Why?
Because dear reader...
This is where all the good (insert appropriate expletive here) happens!
And as much as I would love to be that friend that comes over and is all...
"This happened, and then that happened, and then OMG!"
I just can't.
All I can say is this is where all the nagging questions that you just couldn't get out of your head for WEEKS after reading parts 1-3 get answered.
This is also where the sex between Red and her fabulous Wolfe goes from "a little WICKED" to "bring in the fire hoses downright DIRTY"!
And let's not talk about the deep emotional connection between Red and Wolfe, that has managed to creep in there, while we unsuspecting readers were distracted by all the sex!
Reading this book is like being a three year old at the circus. There are just so many great things happening at once that you don't know where to look first.
But...
Just in case all of my rambling hasn't convinced you to either buy this book, or that I should be committed to the nearest mental institution.
Here is a non spoilery highlight list.

1. R&W have mind blowing sex.
2. Questions about Wolfe's backstory are resolved.
3. There are lots of WTF moments with baddies, guns, and pain.
4. R&W have mind blowing sex.
5. There is a beautiful" happily ever after" bow.

Still want to know more?
Do yourself and your libido a favor and buy this series!





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YA Reads Blog Tours Presents: XY


Title:  XY
Author:  Shanta Everington
Format:  ERC
Length:  152 pages
Publisher:  Bridge House
Rating:  5 Stars

Fifteen-year-old Jesse lives in a society where babies are born neither male nor female - gender is assigned at birth. Will the secret she closely guards be found out? Boyfriend Zeus, mother Ana's Natural Souls, and new friend Ork, leader of We Are One, pull Jesse in different directions, forcing her to make her own mind up about who she really is.
-Goodreads

My Thoughs
This is the story of Jesse, an intersexed, female identifying, person living in a world where living as intersexed is seen as both morally and legally wrong.
So wrong in fact, that parents of intersexed children are mandated by the government to have their children sexually assigned through surgical means at birth.


Jesse, it seems, is one of the lucky few who get to choose. She and her brother Randy have been able to keep the secret of their ambiguous genitalia, until at age 16, after having embraced the gender role of male or female, they undergo the surgery that will allow them to live that choice.

The journey for Jesse seems quite cut and dry, until she meets Ork. As an intersexed person who has not chosen the path of specified gender identity, Ork stands as a beacon of both choice and pain for Jesse.
Choice, because Ork does not treat being intersexed as a malady to be despised or corrected. Fear, because of the specters of societal ignorance and intolerance that are an everyday part of Ork's life. 


Though this book is a work of fiction, the plight of the intersexed that is so artfully brought to the forefront within its pages is quite real. There is a large group of the world-wide population living as members of the transgender, intersexed, community, who just want to live lives, love, and be accepted for their true selves.

This book speaks to those desires in an eloquent and powerful voice that deserves to be both heard and understood.



About This Author
Shanta Everington is the author of seven books. Her latest Young Adult novel XY is published in June 2014 by Red Telephone Books. She lives in London, UK.




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Savor The Illicit Passion of "His Forbidden Lady"


Title:  His Forbidden Lady
Author:  Nicola Davidson
Length:  80 pages
Format:  ERC
Publisher:  Entangled/Scandalous
Rating: 4 Stars

Tudor England, 1542
 When beautiful widow Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes is ordered to court, she is terrified. Heny VIII desires a sixth queen for his bloodstained throne, and her scheming family cares not for her wishes. Annabelle yearns for love, but there is no escaping her fate: escorting her is Rafe de Vere, the man who abandoned her to become England's most loyal and brutally successful soldier. Rafe is utterly weary of war and its impossible demands. Thankfully, his final task is the easiest: accompany a wellborn lady to London for Henry's perusal. Until he discovers she is Annabelle, the woman who swore to wait for him but married another. Rafe isn't permitted to care, yet time hasn't dulled their sizzling attraction and his orders are increasingly difficult to obey. To love her, he would have to risk all and cross his king to secure the ultimate prize - Annabelle's heart.
-Goodreads

My Thoughts
The story of Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes strikes a familiar cord due to its ties to the Tudor court.
It is in fact Annabelle's summons to court as the next possible bride to a grieving King Henry, that serves as the quandary in which this doppelgänger to the late Queen Jane finds herself.
With scheming minds and unbridled ambition, her father and and uncle, Edward Seymore, waste no time in their plot to place her before the king.
What they have no way of knowing however, is that fate is a fickle mistress.  The one man charged with the delivery of their prize to the king; is the one man destined to claim that prize for himself.

The story of Anabelle's forced audience with the king, and the utter hopelessness of its heroine at the prospect is enough to capture and hold the attentions of readers from the story's start.
The monkey wrench in this whole affair, otherwise known as Rafe de Vere; proves a tension building element and ratchets the emotional appeal of this read to new heights.
Authoress Nicola Davidson scores big points for her expert weaving of Annabelle's chapter into the well known story of Henry and his court.

The passion and wanton nature of Annabelle and Rafe's relationship is well established, even though the length of this story is but a scant 80 pages.

The only drawbabacks of such a short novel come not in the story at hand, but in the backstory of Rafe and Annabelle.  Though the allusion to said ties is made early on in the read, the lack of a true foundation for the all encompassing love that these two share, leaves their story a bit unfinished.

What is beautifully and surprisingly finished however, is the sweet ending what is tied with a most royal bow.




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It's The Same Old Romance In "Different Dreams"


Title:  Different Dreams
Author:  Tory Cates
Format:  Print
Length:  293 pages
Publisher:  Pocket Star
Rating:  3 Stars

In the second book in a new Western romance series by Rita Award nominee Tory Cates, a woman struggles to keep the ranch she’s worked so hard for—against a man who melts her heart.

Malou Sanders has always felt most comfortable in the world of animals and chosen their company over that of men. So when land developer Cameron Landell threatens to sell the Texas ranch where she keeps the troop of Japanese monkeys she’s studying, Malou decides to fight to save the animals. Then Malou confronts Cameron under the sweltering desert sun, and from the moment she looks into his thickly lashed dark eyes, her resolve melts. Soon her hopes for professional acclaim are replaced by a different dream. But one lingering doubt is still keeping Malou from Cameron’s arms…and her dreams from coming true.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
What we have in the case of Different Dreams, is a very sweet and very lovable instance of  "been there...done that".
Big bad land developer comes to claim what's his, and ends up displacing (insert species here)_____.
In the process finding the love of his life in the form of put upon, bleeding heart, and knockout beauty (insert rugged damsel here)_____.
What comes as a welcome shock however, is that the research done on said species, in the case macaques, and the interest level that their part in the plot provides; is just the lifeline that this otherwise formulaic storyline needs.
The romance between Cameron and Malou lends itself to the insta-love category, but it is also very "knight in shining Escalade"
And...
Just as with every " you, me, and the wild life" romance; this too is tied with a very warm and fuzzy "we are the world" bow at tale's end.

This is a very quick and sweet read.  Perfect for a day at the beach, or a quick escape from the everyday.


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Light Up Your Night With This HOT Title From Pocket Star + Giveaway

Title:  How To Reprimand Your Rock Star
Author:  Mina Vaughn
Length:  280 pages
Format:  ERC
Publisher:  Pocket Star
Rating:  5 stars

In this fun and saucy romance novel, all-star college basketball player Thea dominates on the courts—and off—with a rock star who is determined to win her over.

Thea is a star basketball player at UConn on track to be Rookie of the Year. That is, if she can stay focused on the game. Lately that hasn’t been going so well, as her knee has been bothering her. But that’s not the only thing on her mind…

Ever since rock star Keaton Lowe surprised her in the girl’s locker room, Thea can’t stop thinking about him. On top of his status and enticing ways, he seems to know everything about her. But some of his actions cross the line, and Keaton needs to be punished. Will Thea keep her head in the game, or get distracted by her other favorite pastime—reprimanding her rock star?

The locker room welcomed me with the smell of freshly washed uniforms and leather workout equipment. The familiar scents tickled my nose and I envisioned my locker room back home. I remembered giving speeches to my team, rallying them against our foes. I felt like a general
sometimes. Here, I just listened. Sure, I liked everyone, but I really wished I could just be myself. I rolled my stiff shoulders and decided that tape wasn’t all I needed—a long hot shower would do my body a world of good. And I didn’t want to let the guards have the satisfaction of getting me out of their hair so soon.

I dropped my clothes at the threshold of the locker room and the adjoining shower room. I was never weirded-out by the team showering together. It was what athletes did. When you’re there, making jokes under the steaming water, splashing and commiserating, it was almost better that you were naked. It showed your trust. The team saw you at your most vulnerable. I wanted them to know they could trust me, so, therefore, I let them see my boobs. Common sense. It did kind of make me sad that even though we’d been playing together since September, I couldn’t really call many of them my friends. Except for my roommate, Callie.

The weirdest thing was the only person I had met besides Callie that I really felt a connection to was the team’s landlord, whom they had nicknamed the Red Devil. Her real name is Scarlett. I had actually never spoken to her, but something about her drew me in. She was intimidating as
hell—tall like us basketball folk, flaming-red curls that hung to her waist, and heels that could kill small animals that skittered into their path. The team hated her strict curfews and neat-freakery. I liked her. Powerful women were cool, and it pissed me off when they were labeled “bitches” just because they knew what they wanted. Plus, I liked that she owned a little new-age shop in town that, rumor has it, has a secret back room. So yeah, Scarlett was cool. Scary, but cool.
I made my way across the white tile floor, dodging cold puddles, and cranked my lucky showerhead number thirteen to a scorching blast. Every time I had picked this one, we won, so I never showered anywhere else. Except at home—my real home, that is. I stood under the scalding deluge and tipped my head up to feel the hot spray in my mouth. I had to
singe off the thin layer of failure from last night’s game. I grabbed a loofah and scrubbed my skin to a near polish. Rolling my shoulders, I took a squirt of the lavender-scented shampoo and worked it into my long curls.
Sighing, I let my naked back slouch against the cold tiles as I worked my scalp. My ex, Ty, had loved giving me massages. But that was all he wanted, touching. College was supposed to be a fantastic dating scene, but all I ever got were guys who wanted me for the wrong reasons. Boys
who were lazy and easy. Not that I had an ideal guy in mind, but I just wanted to work for it. I wanted the hunt. Lamenting my permanently single status, I watched the last few soap bubbles drop from my hair to the floor. Absentmindedly, I turned and reached for my towel and found
nothing. I glanced around the empty room. Always, without fail, I’d put my towel within arm’s reach of my lucky showerhead. How could I forget that today? I really was off my game on several levels. Padding wetly, dripping like a mermaid, I made my way toward the locker room’s entryway where my clothes sat.
Only, my clothes weren’t there either.

I took a tentative step into the locker room and turned toward my locker, where at least a practice uniform would be waiting for me. Or maybe I left my clothes there. Get your head together, Thea.
Every time I saw that locker, I’d chuckle. My obnoxious Greek last name was too long to fit on the nameplate, or my jersey for that matter, so instead of reading PAPASTATHOPOULOS, it just said PAPAS. That’s why the team had taken to calling me “Pops.”
But instead of seeing my truncated name or a pile of clothes, I saw a guy.


My Thoughts
Mina Vaughn brings a very new and refreshingly fun approach to the sexual awakening/coming of age plot line.  This time around it is all about the girl power.  Female lead, Thea, is all about the games, both on and off the court, and with the help of one very willing rocker, in the form of sexy submissive, Keaton Lowe; it looks like this rookie is going to get all the play time she can handle.

How To Reprimand Your Rock Star brings BDSM to the New Adult genre with a fun and flirty, yet very respectful flourish.
Authoress Mina Vaughn gives a special "shout out" to Thea's inner goddess with the well placed mythological references that pepper this wonderful read.
The thing that will have readers clamoring  for more of this story however, is just that.  The story!
Thea is coming to know herself, as a women, as a basketball player, and as a domme!
She may be young, but she knows what and who she wants...and proves smart enough to get it all.

Keaton is the perfect boy toy!
A man who has it all, and knows how to use everything at his disposal to keep his domme satisfied.
The thing that makes Keaton truly drool-worthy however, is the way that he treats Thea outside of the bedroom.  He is there for her.  Ready to support her at every turn, but not there to get in the way of her life and it's lessons.

The sex scenes found here are varied enough to always keep one guessing, and add just that right amount of BAD...that is oh so good.
They are balanced enough to please the seasoned sub/dom, without being to much for a curious trainee.

This is a story that you will never want to end.  
If this reviewer had her way...there will be a book two!
A girl can beg right?


About this author


Mina Vaughn is an international woman of mystery and a shoe whore with a heart of gold. When she's not writing her unique brand of silly smut, she's plundering Sephora for any pin up girl makeup she can find. Mina's debut novel, an erotic comedy entitled HOW TO DISCIPLINE YOUR VAMPIRE is about a punishment-seeking vampire who meets a quirky Domme with a serious role play fetish, available now from Simon and Schuster's Pocket Star.

The Giveaway!
If you are 18 years old + and would like to win a copy of How To Reprimand Your Rockstar...
Leave a comment telling me how you would reprimand your rock star witha valid email.

Link to xoxoafterdark.com for more fun hotness courtesy of Pocket Star and S&S









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"Like No Other" Brings a Different Voice To Conteporary YA


Title:  Like No Other
Author:  Una LaMarche
Format:  Print
Length:  347 pages
Publisher:  Razorbill
Rating:  4.5 Stars

**Publishers Weekly Best Book of Summer 2014**
**A Summer 2014 Indie Next List Pick**
**A 2014 Junior Library Guild Selection**
**Los Angeles Times Summer Reading Guide Selection**
**An Entertainment Weekly YA Novel to Watch Out For**


Fate brought them together. Will life tear them apart? 

Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing.

Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters).

They've spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did.

When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection.

Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?

In the timeless tradition of West Side Story and Crossing Delancey, this thoroughly modern take on romance will inspire laughter, tears, and the belief that love can happen when and where you least expect it.  -Goodreads
My Thoughts
Like No Other is a very bittersweet story.
Both Devorah and Jaxson are bright, honest, and hardworking young people whose coming together would have been a welcome happening, had circumstances been different.
Though this story is touted to be a modern-day West Side Story, one quickly comes to find that this story is not so much about Devorah and Jaxon as a couple, as it is about Devorah choosing to live a life of her own making.
Being female in the highly patriarchal society of the Hasidic Jew doesn't leave Devorah with many options or opinions concerning her life path.
Her chance meeting with Jaxon and the look beyond the veil that has until that point surrounded and insulated her life, changes all of that forever.

This is at times a very hard book to read, because it is very difficult to fathom that there are still communities in America where the subjugation of women and girls is sanctioned and condoned.
That being said.
The way that this book handles the conundrum in which Jaxon and Devorah find themselves is first rate.
There is a sadness that pervades the lives of the women and girls in Devorah's life. A kind of unspoken resignation that their lots in life as mothers and wives is all that they are allowed to aspire to.
Seeing that Devorah has dared to break free from said mold and is daring to aspire to more in both life and love is...priceless!




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"For Her Spy Only" Proves That Sometimes Secrets Can Hold The Key To Something Wonderful


Title:  For Her Spy Only
Author:  Robyn DeHart
Format:  ERC
Length:  103 pages
Publisher:  Entangled/Scandalous
Rating:  5 Stars

England, 1814 

When Winifred is rescued from her snow-stranded carriage by the notorious and reclusive Alistair, Marquess of Coventry, she is instantly drawn to him. Jilted by her betrothed and socially ruined by untrue rumors, Winifred is tired of paying for crimes she didn't commit and decides to play the seductress London society claims she is. Thinking a night of passion shouldn't leave any lasting effects, she instead finds her heart marked forever. 

Six years later, Alistair is working for the Regent as a spy. A search for Napoleon's English supporters leads him to the beguiling Winifred, recently widowed with a young son. He hasn't forgotten how the unconventional beauty warmed his bed, and the heat between them rekindles immediately. The spymaster is determined to uncover all of plucky Winifred's secrets. Especially the one regarding her son...
-Goodreads

My Thoughts
When Winifred Wilmington meets the dashing yet mysterious Alistair, Marquess of Coventry, she finds herself instantaneously attracted to the secretive and intense man.
So attracted in fact, that when he alludes to thoughts of the ravishment of her virtue, she is more than willing to see to it that he makes good on his jest.
What she nor he realize is that the nights of blazing passion that they share will have far reaching effects on both their lives and their hearts.

Authoress Robyn DeHart strikes again.  This time coupling brazen and undeniable passion with secrets of a more personal nature.
In both Winifred and her dashing leading man, we find people unfairly maligned by the ravages of societal gossip and scandal.
He, because of a tragedy surrounding his late wife.  She, because of vicious lies told by the man who left her at the altar.
Because this is a novella, the pacing of the story is relatively fast.  When the intensity of the feelings that the two main characters share is taken into account however, one is very glad for the breakneck pace of this read.
The sensual elements in this story are first rate.  While the sex between these two is a thing of beauty to read.  It is the emotional connection that the desire cloaks, that serves as the clincher for readers.
The jewel buried within this tale is not the relationship shared by Alistair and Winifred, but in a secret that the two share.
It is because due to the discovery of said secret that these two are finally able to merge their hearts.  Thereby tying a most unforgettable "happily ever after" bow.



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Fly With The Aces in "Close To The Sun"



                                                         Publication Date: June 15, 2014
                                                                     Fireship Press
                                                                      eBook; 404p

    Historical Fiction


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Close to the Sun follows the lives of fighter pilots during the Second World War. As a boy, Hank Milroy from Wyoming idealized the gallant exploits of WWI fighter aces. Karl, Fürst von Pfalz-Teuffelreich, aspires to surpass his father’s 49 Luftsiegen. Seth Braham falls in love with flying during an air show at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field.
The young men encounter friends, rivals, and exceptional women. Braxton Mobley, the hotshot, wants to outscore every man in the air force. Texas tomboy Catherine “Winty” McCabe is as good a flyer as any man. Princess Maria-Xenia, a stateless White Russian, works for the Abwehr, German Intelligence. Elfriede Wohlman is a frontline nurse with a dangerous secret. Miriam Keramopoulos is the girl from Brooklyn with a voice that will take her places.
Once the United States enter the war, Hank, Brax, and Seth experience the exhilaration of aerial combat and acedom during the unromantic reality of combat losses, tedious bomber escort, strafing runs, and the firebombing of entire cities. As one of the hated aristocrats, Karl is in as much danger from Nazis as he is from enemy fighter pilots, as he and his colleagues desperately try to stem the overwhelming tide as the war turns against Germany. Callous political decisions, disastrous mistakes, and horrific atrocities they witness at the end of WWII put a dark spin on all their dreams of glory.

Blogger Praise for Close to the Sun

“Donald Michael Platt’s Close to the Sun is an amazing story told from the perspective of average male fighter pilots in the onset and during WWII, juxtaposing between various men from many sides of the war. The details in this novel were spectacular, creating imagery and depth in the scenes and characters, as well as the dialogue being so nostalgic and well-written it felt right out of a 1950’s film. The romantic nuances of his storytelling felt incredibly authentic with the tug and pull of the men being called to serve and the women whom they loved who had their own high hopes, dreams, or work. I loved how he portrayed this women the most—strongly and fiercely independent. I’ve read several other books by Platt, and this is the best one I’ve read yet! I couldn’t stop reading. ” – Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Hook of a Book

“Donald Platt’s Close To The Sun, is nothing short of Historical Fiction gold. Platt’s flair for emotionally provocative storytelling makes this book attractive to both male and female readers. Seamlessly weaving the threads of action and feeling into a brilliant tableau of humanity. This is a masterfully penned tale of war, ambition, love, loss, and ACES!” – Frishawn Rasheed, WTF Are You Reading?

“Fast-paced and riveting I couldn’t get enough of Hank, Karl and Seth’s exploits! CLOSE TO THE SUN is a thrilling novel that leads readers through idyllic dreams of heroism and the grim reality of war. Platt provides readers with a unique coming-of-age story as three adventure-seeking boys discover far more than how to be an aerial combat pilot. CLOSE TO THE SUN is an amazing tale of adventure, heroism, war and the drive within us all that keeps us going when things look bleak.” – Ashley LaMar, Closed the Cover

“I found Close to the Sun to be an entertaining read, it was well written, with well developed characters, these characters had depth and emotion. A unique plot, told from the point of view of pilots prior to and during World War II. It was a well researched and interesting book” – Margaret Cook, Just One More Chapter

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My Thoughts
Donald Platt's Close To The Sun, is nothing short of Historical Fiction gold.  Set against the bleak and bloody backdrop of WWII.  This novel introduces readers to three young men sharing one dream.  To be the best, to rule the skies as only pilots can...as an Ace!

The Prince - Karl is a man haunted by many ghosts.  Chasing the military legacy left to him by his royal ancestry, living the lie of a loveless marriage, and forced to fight under the tyrannical leadership of Hitler and the Third Reich; Karl is only able to find solace and sanity among the clouds.

The Cowboy - Hank wants nothing more than to soar through the wide expanse above, like the majestic falcons that inspired him as a boy.  Though Hank has the talent and ambition necessary to make his lofty dreams a reality; he soon finds himself stalled by military pecking orders and bureaucracy.

The College Boy - Seth is an idealist.  With stars in his eyes and the songs of his "Lady Gershwin" in his heart, Seth is sure that he will attain the glory of his dreams, and return home the "conquering hero".  When boyhood dreams of glory meet the difficult realities of pain, death and loss...Can Seth accept the fact that the road to victory is often a bloody one?

While this book is militaristic in nature; its author has gone to great pains to make said militarism accessible to civilian  audiences.  Rather than a collection of battle names, dates, and statistics; readers are given battle stories.  Thereby providing the names, faces, and feelings needed to bring these battles to life.

In addition to the battles of war, Close To The Sun is also able to supply readers with a great deal emotional and psychological drama.
Platt writes characters who, while striving for perfection in their careers, are unafraid to be flawed in their personal lives.
It is these "peeks beneath the armor" of these great men that often steal the spotlight of the read, becoming focal points in the plot.
Platt's flair for emotionally provocative storytelling makes this book attractive to both male and female readers.  Seamlessly weaving the threads of action and feeling into a brilliant tableau of humanity. 

This is a masterfully penned tale of war, ambition, love, loss, and ACES!

About the Author

Author of four other novels, ROCAMORA, HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, A GATHERING OF VULTURES, and CLOSE TO THE SUN, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.

Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood, Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.

After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.

Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and preparing to write a sequel to CLOSE TO THE SUN.

For more information please visit Donald Michael Platt’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.







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Experience Love And Death for the Unbelievably Low Price of $1.99



SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois with stories from Diana Gabaldon, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Marjorie M. Liu, and many more. (E-book version $1.99)

A groundbreaking anthology featuring stories from some of the most prestigious names in romance, fantasy, and science fiction, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

Featuring stories from and about the heart, these tales of romance are played out against every kind of setting, from ghost-haunted fantasy landscapes to mile-long spaceships in transit among the stars. Including some of the most well-known, bestselling, and award-winning authors in the industry, this must-have collection features an original story set in the Outlander universe from Diana Gabaldon, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Marjorie M. Liu, and many more including Robin Hobb, Jo Beverley, Jacqueline Carey.

Co-edited by blockbuster bestselling author George R.R. Martin, whose fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire serves as the inspiration for HBO’s Game of Thrones, and Gardner Dozois, one of the pre-eminent anthologists of science fiction and fantasy and winner of fifteen Hugo Awards,Songs of Love and Death is a star-studded cross-genre anthology that explores the borderlands of fantasy, science fiction, and romance.




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Pocket Star Presents: How To Reprimand Your Rock Star

Title:  How To Reprimand Your Rock Star
Author:  Mina Vaughn
Length:  280 pages
Format:  ERC
Publisher:  Pocket Star
Rating:  5 stars

In this fun and saucy romance novel, all-star college basketball player Thea dominates on the courts—and off—with a rock star who is determined to win her over.

Thea is a star basketball player at UConn on track to be Rookie of the Year. That is, if she can stay focused on the game. Lately that hasn’t been going so well, as her knee has been bothering her. But that’s not the only thing on her mind…

Ever since rock star Keaton Lowe surprised her in the girl’s locker room, Thea can’t stop thinking about him. On top of his status and enticing ways, he seems to know everything about her. But some of his actions cross the line, and Keaton needs to be punished. Will Thea keep her head in the game, or get distracted by her other favorite pastime—reprimanding her rock star?



My Thoughts
Mina Vaughn brings a very new and refreshingly fun approach to the sexual awakening/coming of age plot line.  This time around it is all about the girl power.  Female lead, Thea, is all about the games, both on and off the court, and with the help of one very willing rocker, in the form of sexy submissive, Keaton Lowe; it looks like this rookie is going to get all the play time she can handle.

How To Reprimand Your Rock Star brings BDSM to the New Adult genre with a fun and flirty, yet very respectful flourish.
Authoress Mina Vaughn gives a special "shout out" to Thea's inner goddess with the well placed mythological references that pepper this wonderful read.
The thing that will have readers clamoring  for more of this story however, is just that.  The story!
Thea is coming to know herself, as a women, as a basketball player, and as a domme!
She may be young, but she knows what and who she wants...and proves smart enough to get it all.

Keaton is the perfect boy toy!
A man who has it all, and knows how to use everything at his disposal to keep his domme satisfied.
The thing that makes Keaton truly drool-worthy however, is the way that he treats Thea outside of the bedroom.  He is there for her.  Ready to support her at every turn, but not there to get in the way of her life and it's lessons.

The sex scenes found here are varied enough to always keep one guessing, and add just that right amount of BAD...that is oh so good.
They are balanced enough to please the seasoned sub/dom, without being to much for a curious trainee.

This is a story that you will never want to end.  
If this reviewer had her way...there will be a book two!
A girl can beg right?


About this author


Mina Vaughn is an international woman of mystery and a shoe whore with a heart of gold. When she's not writing her unique brand of silly smut, she's plundering Sephora for any pin up girl makeup she can find. Mina's debut novel, an erotic comedy entitled HOW TO DISCIPLINE YOUR VAMPIRE is about a punishment-seeking vampire who meets a quirky Domme with a serious role play fetish, available now from Simon and Schuster's Pocket Star.




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Spend The Night With A Great Book From Pocket Star

July 14th titles: APPREHENDED, TRIED, and CONVICTED by Jan Burke.

 

APPREHENDED by Jan Burke

SUMMARY:

 

From the New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke comes a brand-new e-short story with the added bonus of three short stories from the Eighteen anthology.

Apprehended is a mini-anthology containing a brand new short story from Jan Burke: "The Unacknowledged," which features the fan-favorite investigative reporter Irene Kelly, back in her journalism school days. Also included are three short stories from the previously publishedEighteen: "Why Tonight," "A Fine Set of Teeth," and "A Man of My Stature."

Praise for Eighteen:
"Astonishing…wry…these stories are sure to delight." —New York Times bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver

"A delightful collection of page-turners. At turns chilling, funny, poignant—and always insightful. With these stories, Jan Burke’s at the top of her game." —New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman

 

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

I made sure we were alone. That was actually the hardest part. After realizing that no restaurant in the city would be free of people who might know Donna, I ended up inviting her over for dinner on a night when I knew Lydia had an evening class. Until two months earlier, Lydia and I had shared the place with another roommate, but she had married over the summer. We had been putting off finding another renter, but tonight I was glad for the lack of a potential eavesdropper, enjoying the emptiness and quiet that usually had me thinking that I was going to have to move back home again.

 

Donna and I made small talk until after I cleared the dishes. She seemed a little down. All the same, she was an easy person to talk to. I was fighting some very cynical thinking about that as I pulled out some photocopies I had made.

 

I had thought of going all Perry Mason on her ass, cross-examining her until she wept and admitted her crimes. I couldn’t do it. The truth is, I liked her.

 

“I had a special assignment given to me this week,” I said. “Do you know who Jack Corrigan is?”

 

She shook her head. My tone must have hardened, or my look, or—somehow I tipped her off that the nature of our little dinner party was about to change.

 

“Well, I suppose that doesn’t matter. I have a feeling that you do know who Cassie Chadwick was.”

 

She, who blushed so easily, turned pale. She looked at me with such desperation that, for a full minute, I wasn’t sure if she was going to cry, run away, or punch me. But she just nodded yes and looked down at her hands.

 

“If she hadn’t harmed so many people,” I said, “I could almost admire her cunning, not to mention her nerve. After running a number of other scams, she marries a naive doctor from Cleveland, just happens to convince him that they should visit New York at the same time a man from home is there—a man who is a high-society gossip in Cleveland. She asks that man to give her a carriage ride, and has him wait for her outside the home of Andrew Carnegie, a wealthy, confirmed bachelor. She goes into the house, comes out thirty minutes later, and—this part really interested me—trips as she’s getting into the carriage. Drops a promissory note for two million dollars—a note that appears to be signed by Andrew Carnegie, whom she blushingly claims is her father.”

 

She stayed silent.

 

“Too bad promissory notes aren’t what they used to be. Planning to borrow millions based on phony documents, and cause a bank or two to fail?”

 

“No.”

 

“I didn’t think so.” I let the silence stretch for a time, then said, “Who told you about Cassie Chadwick?”

 

“Aunt Lou, my great aunt. She grew up hearing stories about her. Aunt Lou claimed to ‘admire her brass’ as she put it. Aunt Lou doesn’t think women ever get a fair shake in this world.”

 

“Is Donna Vynes your real name?”

 

“My married name, yes.” She was tracing patterns on the tablecloth with one of her perfect fingers, still not making eye contact.

 

“So you’re really a war widow?”

 

The finger stopped moving. She looked up at me. “Oh yes. And my mother is dead. John, my husband, sent home all of his pay—a little over a hundred and fifty dollars a month at first. It was up to about four hundred when he was killed. Just about everything he saved for us got spent on my mother’s medical needs. But John also bought some life insurance through the service. So I had ten thousand from that.”

 

“That’s where the seven thousand comes from?”

 

“Yes.” She sighed. “There was this neighbor of Aunt Lou’s in Cleveland. Her daughter was about my age. Despite all my other faults, I’m not like Eldon, so I won’t name her, if you don’t mind. Anyway, at the end of last semester, she dropped out of school here. Looking back on it now, I think she was just really homesick.

 

“But what she told me was . . . well, once we got to know each other, she said the reason she left was because Eldon Naff slept with her and then told the world about it. She said she had been working as an assistant for Mr. Langworthy, or rather to someone on his staff. She said it was Mr. Langworthy who fired her, mostly based on Eldon’s gossip. I don’t know if that’s true, but I learned a lot about Mr. Langworthy from her. Including the fact that in early September, he was going on a Mediterranean cruise.

 

“And I couldn’t help thinking about Mr. Carnegie and Mrs. Chadwick. Especially because I never knew my dad. My mother always said my father died while she was pregnant with me, but I think she was lying. Aunt Lou all but confirmed that my parents weren’t married. So I am illegitimate, just not the child of a rich man.”

 

After a long silence, she said, “God, I don’t know how you did it, but I’m glad you figured it out. It’s a relief.”

 

 

 Link continuing the excerpt to XOXOAfterDark:

http://xoxoafterdark.com/2014/07/08/pocket-star-e-nights-apprehended-jan-burke/?mcd=z_140714_Burke_PSEN

 

 

 

 

-------------

 

 

TRIED by Jan Burke

SUMMARY:

 

 With a brand-new short story featuring Tyler Hawthorne from The Messenger, plus three stories from Eighteen, this is the third of six e-short story collections from New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke.

 

 

 EXCERPT:

 

 At this hour, although two other attendants roamed another part of the cemetery, Tyler and Shade were alone in this section of the hilly grounds. Suddenly Shade stiffened. His ears pitched forward and his hackles rose. He gave a low, soft growl.

 

Tyler came to a halt. Shade protected him, but the dog seldom growled at living beings.

 

In the next moment, the air was filled with what he at first took to be bats, then saw were small birds, of a type Tyler had never seen so far inland. “Mother Carey’s chickens,” he said, using the sailors’ name for them. Storm petrels. “What are they doing here?”

 

The birds fluttered above him, then a half dozen dropped to the ground before Shade in a small cluster. The scent of the sea rose strongly all about him, as if someone had transported him to the deck of a ship.

 

Shade stared hard at them as they cheeped frantically, then the dog relaxed into a sitting position.

 

The other petrels flew away. No sooner had they gone than the six before him were transformed into the ghostly figures of men.

 

They were forlorn creatures, gray-faced and looking exactly as what they must be, drowned men. Their uniforms proclaimed two as officers, the other four as sailors, all but one of the British navy.

 

Shade’s demeanor told him that these ghosts—unlike some others—would be no threat to him.

 

“May I be of help to you?” Tyler asked.

 

“Captain Hawthorne?” the senior officer asked.

 

“I believe the rank belongs more rightly to you,” Tyler said. “I was a captain in the British army many years ago, but I sold out after Waterloo.”

 

“Yes, sir,” the captain said, “I understand. If I may introduce myself to you, I am Captain Redding, formerly of the Royal Navy. Lost at sea in about your—your original time, sir.”

 

They exchanged bows.

 

“You are a Messenger?” Captain Redding asked.

 

“Yes.”

 

“We are all men who drowned at sea. Many of those in the flock you called ‘Mother Carey’s chickens’ are indeed just that. We come from many nations, taken by that sea witch Mother Carey, yet death has made us all birds of a feather. Little birds tell other little birds news of those such as yourself, and speak of Shade as well.”

 

The dog gave a slight wag of his tail in acknowledgment.

 

The captain went on. “The midshipman we bring to you is an American. Hails from here in Buffalo. We approach you on his behalf.” He turned to the man. “Step forward, Midshipman Bailey, and tell the captain your story, for we’ve not much time left.”

 

“Aye, sir.” The midshipman gave Tyler a small bow. “Thank you, sir. If you would be so kind to visit my sister, who lies dying not far from here. In the asylum, sir. The good one. We’ve all of us in her family done her a grave injustice.” He looked down at his feet. “Many injustices.”

 

“When were you lost at sea?” Tyler asked gently.

 

“Eight years ago, sir, in ’63. In the War Between the States. Would have done more for my country if Zeb Nador hadn’t pushed me overboard in a storm.”

 

“Do you ask me to seek justice for you?”

 

“Not necessary for me, Nador’s in the county jail here and will face trial for murdering someone else. He’ll hang as well for that one as for what he did to me.”

 

Tyler was about to try to say something to comfort him, unsure what that might be, when one of the other men whispered, “Hurry!”

 

Midshipman Bailey nodded, then said, “Will you go to her, sir? Her name is Susannah. She needs you tonight. And if you’d tell her Andrew sent you to her, and that she was always the best of his sisters, and that he sees things clearer now, and hopes to one day rest at her side—”

 

“Hurry!” the captain ordered.

 

“Well, sir, I’d take it as a great kindness.”

 

“I would be honored to do so, Midshipman Bailey.”

 

“Thank you!” he said, and had no sooner whispered these words than all six men again transformed into small birds and rose from the ground. They circled in the air above him, where they were joined again by the larger flock. He had thought they would begin their long journey back to the sea, but they surprised him by surrounding him and the dog.

 

Quite clearly, he heard hundreds of voices whisper to him at once, “Storm’s coming!”

 

And they were gone.

 

Shade immediately headed toward the nearest gate at a brisk trot. He glanced back at Tyler in impatience. Tyler hurried to catch up.

 

“There is more than one asylum, you know. The closest is still under construction, which leaves Providence Lunatic Asylum and the Erie County Almshouse—”

 

It wasn’t hard to read the next look he received.

 

“I apologize. Yes, Sister Rosaline Brown’s would be the ‘good one.’ And of course you will know the way and of course you will be admitted, although large black dogs, as a rule . . .”

 

Shade wagged his tail.

 

Providence Lunatic Asylum was operated by the Sisters of Charity, who had previously established a hospital in Buffalo. They had arrived in the city just in time to deal with the early cholera epidemics and were considered heroes by many. In 1860, horrified by conditions in the Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum, Sister Rosaline Brown started the asylum, which attempted a more humane treatment of the insane.

 

The dog paused at the small building closest to the cemetery’s main gate. Tyler understood what he was meant to do. Hailing the man who was keeping watch, Tyler said, “A severe storm is coming. Please call the other men in.”

 

“Storm?” the man said, bewildered.

 

“Yes, it’s calm now, but I just saw a flock of storm petrels. Sea birds. The only reason they’d be this far inland is if a hurricane had blown them here.”

 

He bid the man a quick good night and wondered if he would heed the warning.

 

In the next moment the wind came up, and trees began to rustle and sway. Shade leaped into the gig Tyler had left tied at the gate. Tyler glanced over his shoulder and saw the watchman gather a large lantern, and soon heard him calling out to the others.

 

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:

 http://xoxoafterdark.com/2014/07/08/pocketstarenights-tried-jan-burke/?mcd=z_140714_Burke2_PSEN

 

 

---------------

 

 

CONVICTED by Jan Burke

SUMMARY:

 

From New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke comes the fourth of six e-short story collections.

Convicted is a mini-anthology containing a brand-new short story, “The Anchorwoman” featuring a young Irene Kelly, plus three stories from the highly acclaimed Eighteen print anthology: “Revised Endings, “Devotion,” and “The Muse.” Jeffery Deaver, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kill Room, praised Eighteen as “Astonishing…wry…these stories are sure to delight.” And New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman says, “A delightful collection of page-turners. At turns chilling, funny, poignant—and always insightful. With these stories, Jan Burke’s at the top of her game.” 

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

“So at ten o’clock on Wednesday, five clowns—probably males—jumped out of a moving van parked in the alley behind your house and started singing ‘Oklahoma!’—do I have it right so far?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Did they seem to be looking up at you, singing it to you?”

 

She hesitated, then said, “I’m not sure. They glanced in my direction every now and then, but they didn’t stand still and serenade me. They moved around, danced, and did high kicks and cartwheels.”

 

“Then what happened?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Nothing?”

 

“They climbed back into the van and drove off.”

 

“Were they all in the cab, or were some riding in the back?”

 

“Two in the back.”

 

Illegal and dangerous.

 

“Did you see anything in the van itself? Furniture?”

 

“I didn’t get a good look at the back. The angle was wrong.”

 

I looked at my notes. What hadn’t I asked?

 

“What about the van itself—Bekins? Allied? North American?—what moving company?”

 

She was shaking her head before I finished. “Not a moving company. It was a rented van. Las Piernas Rentals.”

 

“Well—that’s a lucky break.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Local rental company with three locations, all within town. If it had been one of the nationals, the truck could have come from anywhere. License-plate number?”

 

“No, again, I couldn’t see it from that angle.”

 

“How big was the van?”

 

“Big. I don’t know.”

 

I tried to come up with vehicles to compare it with, which didn’t work with her, but when I got her to say how much of the Mickelsons’ house the van had blocked, I had a reasonable idea. Another idea struck me.

 

“Did you see a number on it? Most rental companies paint numbers on their trucks, to keep track of which ones they’re renting, I suppose.”

 

“I looked for one, but it had a big piece of paper taped over it—like butcher paper, maybe?”

 

I hesitated, telling myself that I needed to separate latenineteenth- century fiction from the present problem. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

 

“Cokie, are there any banks or businesses on the other side of the alley?”

 

“There’s a row of homes, that’s all.”

 

“Anybody doing any kind of business out of a house that you know of?”

 

“No.”

 

“I mean any kind of business. Any pot growers? Drug dealers?”

 

“No! We did have a problem when Auggie and Andrea Sands lived at the end of the cul-de-sac, but their mom kicked them out. That was about three years ago.”

 

“She kicked them out for selling drugs?” Lydia asked.

 

We had known the Sands twins in high school. Always in trouble.

 

“Kicked Auggie out for selling drugs, and Andrea for banging her boyfriend in the living room. Their mom came home early with a friend from work. Guess that was the last straw.”

 

“How did their mom find out that Auggie was dealing?”

 

“One of the neighbors told her.”

 

“You?”

 

“No. I didn’t want to mess with those people.”

 

“Do Andrea and Auggie know you weren’t the one?”

 

She frowned. “They should. They have no reason to think I would tell on them.”

 

I exchanged a glance with Lydia and moved on.

 

“Anyone in the neighborhood angry with you?”

 

“You think singing clowns is a sign of aggression?”

 

“A possibility, anyway.”

 

She smiled. “I’m so glad you see it that way. My parents think it was something fun, as if I have a secret admirer. But it doesn’t feel that way to me. It seemed to me that someone wanted . . . well, to ridicule me.”

 

I bent my head over my notes and hoped my hair hid my blush. I certainly felt ashamed of my meaner thoughts about her.

 

“It seems crazy to think that,” she went on, “but . . . it didn’t make me happy, it made me feel as if I had been targeted, and someone went to a lot of trouble to do it. I’m a little scared by that. But I can’t think of anyone who would feel that mad at me. I get along with my neighbors. I’m one of the last young people still living on our street, and I try to help my older neighbors. I visit them. I run errands for them.”

 

A passage in “The Red-Headed League” came to mind:

 

“As a rule,” said Holmes, “the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious

it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are

really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to

identify.”

 

Easy for him to say. But was there some commonplace crime hiding beneath all that clown makeup?

 

“Cokie, what would you normally be doing on a Wednesday morning at about that time?”

 

“Normally, I’d be playing canasta with the widows.”

 

“I hate to admit it, but I don’t understand.”

 

“You know, the card game.”

 

“Yes, I even know how to play it. Who are the widows?”

 

“Oh. Three of my neighbors. One day Mrs. Redmond—she’s across the street and one house down—mentioned to me how much she loved the canasta parties that used to be held on the

street. I talked to a couple of people about it, and long story short, we started playing canasta at her house on Wednesday mornings.”

 

“Who are the other players?”

 

“Just two, Mrs. Harding and Mrs. Lumfort.”

 

“Who knows that you do this?”

 

“Everyone on our street.”

 

“So because of the clowns, you arrived late?”

 

“No, we didn’t have a game that day. Mrs. Harding was . . . out of town. Mrs. Lumfort had a doctor’s appointment. Mrs. Redmond’s beautician had asked her to move her hair appointment to that morning, so because it was just going to be the two of us, she asked me if I’d mind just canceling. I told her it wasn’t a problem.”

 

“You hesitated about Mrs. Harding. What was going on with her?”

 

“Nothing. She went to a lawyer’s appointment with one of her granddaughters. Kayla just moved in with her.”

 

That name was vaguely familiar. Why did I know it?

 

“Kayla Harding?” Lydia asked. “My brother Gio used to date her.”

 

Gio was five years older than Lydia, and the list of girls he dated in high school was only slightly shorter than the list of female students in his graduating class. The fact that he hadn’t been burned in effigy years ago spoke to his abundant charm. Lydia claimed he genuinely cared about all of them, which seemed unlikely.

 

“Kayla ended up in prison, didn’t she?” Lydia went on. “Stole a car.”

 

“Yes,” Cokie said, “but she’s been out for a couple of weeks now.”

 

“Friend of yours?” I asked.

 

“No. I know her sister better than I know her.”

 

“Mindy,” Lydia said. “She’s our age.”

 

“Yes. I’m not close friends with Mindy, either. I just see her when she visits her grandmother.”

 

“Kind of a Goody-Two-Shoes, isn’t she?” I said.

 

“That can happen when you’re trying to show the world you aren’t like your troublemaking sister, right?” Lydia said.

 

Cokie and I shrugged.

 

“Think of your sister, Barbara,” Lydia said to me.

 

“I’d rather not,” I said.

 

“Mindy is Kayla’s half sister,” the ever-informative Cokie said. “Their father is on his third marriage. Widowed once, divorced once, and the third seems to be the charm. So Mindy

just claims that she’s ‘only’ a half sister when she gets annoyed at Kayla.”

 

“Told you she was a bitch,” I said.

 

“Not exactly,” Lydia said.

 

“Yeah, well . . .” I glanced at my watch. “We’ve got a couple of hours to try to find the Las Piernas Rentals location that rented out the van.”

 

I used the Yellow Pages in the phone book to get the three addresses and phone numbers of the rental places, then opened the Thomas Guide, a book of detailed maps of Los Angeles County that only a fool would try to live without. A lost fool.

 

Cokie readily agreed to come along with me, but Lydia, thinking of the discomfort associated with being the third person in a Karmann Ghia, opted out.

 

Link continuing the excerpt to XOXO After Dark:

http://xoxoafterdark.com/2014/07/08/pocket-star-e-nights-convicted-jan-burke/?mcd=z_140714_Burke3_PSEN

 


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