Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Apocalypse (Rapture Trilogy #3) by Phillip W. Simpson

Apocalypse  (Rapture Trilogy #3) by Phillip W. Simpson
This is a young adult dystopian novel (Rated PG-13)
(Four and a half Loving Hearts) 
Book Summary
The seven years of the Tribulation are almost over. The Apocalypse- the final battle between good and evil - is almost upon us and with it, the end of the world as we know it.

For the last seven years, the half-demon Samael has battled his inner demons as well as the very real demons that inhabit the desolate, ash-shrouded Earth. Betrayed by Heaven and Hell, cursed by the surviving humans that he strives to protect, separated from all those he loves – Sam’s existence is filled with death and despair.

Now he must make a choice. Continue to fight for those he swore to protect or leave them to their fate and join his father in Hell. The Apocalypse is coming and it isn’t going to wait for Sam to make up his mind.
My Review
The subject of the end of the world in relation to the bible has always interested me. Yes, I’m a Christian. When I read the first book in the series, I was taking away with the approach and plausibility of the story. It made sense. What’s more, we met an unlikely hero who was selfless, one of my most valued characteristics.
As the journey continued I wondered how our hero's selflessness could continue with the way he was treated by those he helped. And this story showed that even the most selfless person has their breaking point.
At no point in this journey did I ever fault Sam for his actions. For he was also human and fallible. No human can or ever will be perfect. And even when he could have been angry to the point of lashing out, he wasn’t. Greatness.
My hope was in this series was that Sam would be wrong about his outlook. I mean who better to change the rules than the rule makers themselves. I won’t tell you the outcome. I will say I cried blubbering tears in the last chapters. Tears still roll down my face as I write this.

Why only 4 1/2 hearts, there were a couple of minor plot holes and for that, I couldn't offer perfection. Still this series as a whole is perfect to me.
This author did an amazing job writing the perfect series at the perfect time. This story has moved me in ways I can only imagine. I hope more will read and be inspired, inspired to be more like Sam. Again, I hope there is a Sam in the world. We need him.
My book boyfriend Sam.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yours, For Now by Siren Allen ~ Cover Reveal

Yours, For Now by Siren Allen


The question: "Would you like to try BDSM with me?"

Elizabeth Kemp never thought she'd ask friend and colleague, Preston Lancaster to be her submissive. Even more surprising, he agrees – on one condition: she has to return the favor. Her two weeks as his Domme end with a dramatic climax she wasn't prepared for – she's hopelessly in love and terrified he'll break her heart.

Dr. Preston Lancaster has been in love with Elizabeth since the day they met. His two weeks with her are more than he ever imagined, but when the tables are turned, she refuses to make good on her promise to reciprocate. Preston isn't giving up without a fight, but he's not fighting for two weeks of dominance anymore. He's fighting for forever.

Can Preston convince Elizabeth that her heart is safe with him – or will two weeks be all he has?


You can add Yours, for Now to your to-read list on Goodreads:

Informaton about the book:

Title: Yours, For Now

Author: Siren Allen

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance

Release Date: 23 September 2013


About the Author:

Hi, my name is Siren Allen. I’m a writer and lover of all things erotic and romantic. I reside in southern Mississippi where I write steamy romances that are guaranteed to make you blush. When I’m not listening to the characters in my head and jotting down their adventures, I am busy working as a Clinical Laboratory Technician.

I love to travel, preferably with my husband, so he can do all of the driving. I enjoy time with my family, who are just as silly as I am. I have no children…yet, wish me luck! My hobbies are reading, writing and shopping, though I hate trying on clothing. If I wasn’t a writer or a Laboratory Professional, I would probably be a Secret Agent. But that’s the beauty of being a writer; you can create your own world and be whoever you want to be. In my imaginary world, I am Queen and my siblings are my minions.


You can Find Siren Allen here:

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Mistress (The Original Sinners #4) by Tiffany Reisz ~ ARC Review

The Mistress  (The Original Sinners #4) by Tiffany Reisz
This is an adult erotica novel (Rated NC-17)
(Four Kinky Hearts)

Book Summary
The final book in The Original Sinners Series - The Red Years.

There's punishment-and then there's vengeance.

Nora Sutherlin is being held, bound and naked. Under different circumstances, she would enjoy the situation immensely, but her captor isn't interested in play. Or pity.

As the reality of her impending peril unfolds, Nora becomes Scheherazade, buying each hour of her life with stories-sensual tales of Søren, Kingsley and Wesley, each of whom has tempted and tested and tortured her in his own way. This, Nora realizes, is her life: nothing so simple, so vanilla, as a mere love triangle for her. It's a knot in a silken cord, a tangled mass of longings of the body and the heart and the mind. And it may unravel at any moment.

But in Nora's world, no one is ever truly powerless-a cadre of her friends, protectors and lovers stands ready to do anything to save her, even when the only certainty seems to be sacrifice and heartbreak....

My Review

This story shattered my heart in a trillion pieces. I’m not sure how to recover from this one.
First let me give a bow to this author. She’s done an amazing job with this series that I’m left wanting more every time. Her writing, imagination, tension creation, sex scenes are all off the charts. There are few that can compare.
And I can’t blame her for how I feel about the outcome. She can’t please everyone. It’s not like even before this story I couldn’t predict one of the outcomes. Still, it was earth shattering in its conclusion.
My problem was with the predictability of the story. As the players were introduced it was far too easy to see what was to come. And far too painful to watch/read. Also, I think Nora is far too nonchalant about everything. Especially the ending. Quite frankly I think this disturbed me the most. There was sanctity in the trio that now is forever lost. And I want to explain but I can’t. I won’t spoil it for you. But this almost played out in another book but it was stopped short.  So why go there now. Of course I know why but I’m still very unhappy.
Overall, I’m just not a happy camper. I can’t be. As much as I want to live Nora’s charmed life, I would be devastated by the turn of events not happy go lucky. And I’m sorry. I can’t accept the call at the end and the humor the two saw. Based on comments by the author, I assume it’s true what is hinted at. Therefore, what’s so gosh damn funny about it. I guess I could never be Nora.

If this is really the last book, I kind of feel cheated my the final sentence. UGH.

However, I must say, again that my personal opinion of the outcome may not favor yours if you've read or plan to read. You may feel differently about certain characters than I do. So don't let my opinion here sway whether you read or not. I say GO for it.
My book boyfriend is Kingsley. (He’s the only one that didn’t piss me off.)
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Eyes Wide Open (The Blackstone Affair #3) by Raine Miller

Eyes Wide Open  (The Blackstone Affair #3) by Raine Miller
This is an adult romance/erotica novel (Rated NC-17)
(Three and a half Ethan Hearts)
Book Summary
The third part in The Blackstone Affair series: A love on the brink of being destroyed. The fight of a lifetime to keep it alive.
Big surprises are on the horizon for Ethan and Brynne as they struggle to adjust to what life has thrown at them. Demons from the past are threatening to destroy the passionate bond they’ve forged despite their vow that nothing will ever keep them apart. A truly devastating loss coupled with the promise of a new hope opens their eyes to what is most important, but is it possible for the lovers to move on from the painful histories that continue to haunt them? A stalker is still lurking in the shadows, plotting evil amidst the distraction of the 2012 Olympic games in London. Brynne and Ethan are on the cusp of losing everything as the stakes rise. Will they yield to circumstances beyond their control or will they give every ounce of fight they have left to save each other and win the ultimate prize of a life together?

Eyes Wide Open is a passion-wrought story that shows us what pure love can achieve when tested and what the heart can accomplish despite danger and adversity.
My Review 

While I loved Naked and enjoyed All In, I wasn’t in love with this installment. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t think it was worth a read. And I really love Ethan. I think he is a solid alpha male I would want to jump in bed with, lol.
One of the biggest problems I have with this story are the several chapters we spent with the reveal of a certain problem. I mean, I knew from the ending of the last book. However, it was just drawn out way too far. Having been in that situation, I just don’t believe that one would ignore the answer overnight after claiming to want to know. I could have done without all that drag out and gotten down to the issue itself and how it was going to pan out for the two of them. Instead, there were chapters of hints and obstacles to create some “figment anticipation”. I was just annoyed because I knew the outcome.
Problem number two. Although I didn’t pick the villain early in the series and I can’t even remember if that person was mentioned or not, I did identify them the first time they showed up on the page. It was too obvious for me. And sometimes I can overlook that and enjoy the story, but with that other business above, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.
Overall, it was okay. And I’m still glad to have read the story. I think if I’d read them back to back, I might have appreciated this installment more. So if you haven’t yet read, then you have that option.
Audio Review
Grace Grant and Shane East narrated this one. I would have appreciated much more if they let him do the male parts and her the female ones. Then they could narrate the parts that were from the female and male POV. But alas, it was still good individually.
My book boyfriend Ethan.


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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Never Seduce a Scot (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs #1)

Never Seduce a Scot  (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs #1)
This is an adult historical romance novel (Rated NC-17)
(Four and a half Warrior Hearts)

Book Summary
Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of erotic romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary romance, has captivated readers with her steamy Scottish historical novels, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood. Never Seduce a Scot features a remarkable woman whose rare gift teaches a gruff Scottish warrior how to listen with his heart.  
Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her dutyunprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions.

Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.
My Review
Oh what a story. I love Scottish Highlander warriors. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I really should read more historical fictional novels.
This story has it all. Hot warriors, timid but fierce women to make me proud. There is tension like no other. There aren’t a ton of sex scenes but it didn’t need it. The buildup was quiet nice.
The believability was off the charts. This author made me believe that this was a non-fiction tale and not a fiction one. But what did I know? I did know that I would consider a leap back in time to experience this tale even though women were considered objects and not vessels of intelligence.
Overall, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series.
Audio Review
Kristen Potter did a wonderful job with the characters and the accents. I loved it.
My book boyfriend is Graeme.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Is This All There Is? by Patricia Mann ~ New Cover

Is This All There Is? by Patricia Mann
This is an adult contemporary romance. (Rated NC-17)
(Four and a Half Confusing Hearts)

Book Summary

Beth Thomas has the perfect life.  At thirty-five, she’s married to her college sweetheart, has two adorable kids, and teaches part time at the local university.  But when a friend persuades Beth to go dancing on a rare night out, a chance meeting with twenty one year old Dave, one of her former students, changes the course of her life.  Loud music, too much to drink, and the thrill of feeling young again lead to an unforgettable kiss that was never supposed to happen.  As she tries to put the memory behind her, Dave’s pursuit leaves Beth torn between what her mind says is right and what her heart and body crave.
Website/Blog (New posts every Thursday):

My Review
I tend not to read a lot of contemporary romance unless it’s the billionaire or historical variety. This way I’m still in a fictional world which is my escape, why I read. However, sometimes, I get a book that reminds me in way of my past or present. This was the case here. I almost felt like the author had hidden cameras in my house. I’ve felt a lot like Beth in my life.
But to the meat of things, this story was well written. We really get a solid view of Beth’s life. At times, I wanted to get to the heat part, but the author gave us the full picture so you could really understand and empathize with the main character, her choices and the reasons why.  
With characters so well written, I struggled with my love for Dave then my empathy for Rich. I rooted for them both in ways. Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too? No fair, I say, lol.
I won’t say more because you have to experience the story for yourself.
Overall, I really enjoyed. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
My book boyfriend is tough. But I’m going with Dave. I still love Rick. But I choose Dave.


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Friday, July 19, 2013

Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy #5) by Jennifer Estep

Midnight Frost  (Mythos Academy #5) by Jennifer Estep
This is a young adult paranormal fantasy novel (Rated PG-13)
(Four Frosty Hearts) 

Book Summary
Here we go again …

Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can’t get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities — until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I’m still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead.

As Nike’s Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I’m still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I’ve got to get my hands on the antidote fast — otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins — and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there …

My Review
To say the last full book ended on a cliffy is an understatement. It wasn’t life or death, but still that hanging ending sentence haunted me.  

So I eagerly waited for what would come next. And of course, trouble follows Gwen.  What I was happy about was that she wasn’t overly brooding, and took care of business.
But we also got the confrontation that we needed in order to ease our minds. There were parts of the story that were predictable. But again, I had to remember that this series wasn’t written geared towards me. Still, I enjoyed the story no matter that. 

This author continues to deliver well written stories that keep me engaged and entertained. I look forward to the next book Jennifer Estep to deliver as it is guaranteed to be fantastic. 
My book boyfriend is Logan.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Spartan Frost (Mythos Academy #4.5) by Jennifer Estep

Spartan Frost  (Mythos Academy #4.5) by Jennifer Estep
This is a young adult paranormal fantasy novella (Rated PG-13)
(Four Spartan Hearts)
Book Summary
I’m Logan Quinn, the deadliest Spartan warrior at Mythos Academy. At least I was — until the day I almost killed Gwen Frost.

Professor Metis and Nickamedes say that I’m fine, that Loki and the Reapers don’t have a hold on me anymore, but I can’t risk it. I can’t risk hurting Gwen again. So I’m leaving Mythos and going somewhere far, far away.

I know Gwen wonders what’s happening to me, whether I’m safe. I can’t tell her, but this is my story …
My Review
I was in a state of unrest at the end of the last book. I was left frustrated needing to know what would happen next. In fact, I was ready for Gwen to move on.
So this little nugget of a story gets told in Logan’s POV. Which is awesome. We find out how he is feeling about things. And even though I’m still unhappy with him, what he reveals puts my mind slightly at ease. I won’t say anymore so I don’t spoil anything.
Your question, do you have to read? No, but I think you would miss a lot if you don’t.
Overall, I’m very happy to have read and I read the next book as well. And I think having the information from this book helped in reading the next.
My book boyfriend Logan.
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Entwined with You (Crossfire #3) by Sylvia Day

Entwined with You  (Crossfire #3) by Sylvia Day
This is an adult romance/erotic novel (Rated NC-17)
(Three and a half smutty Hearts)
Book Summary
The worldwide phenomenon continues as Eva and Gideon face the demons of their pasts, and accept the consequences of their obsessive desires… From the moment I first met Gideon Cross, I recognized something in him that I needed. Something I couldn’t resist. I saw the dangerous and damaged soul inside–so much like my own. I was drawn to it. I needed him as surely as I needed my heart to beat.

No one knows how much he risked for me. How much I’d been threatened, or just how dark and desperate the shadow of our pasts would become.

Entwined by our secrets, we tried to defy the odds. We made our own rules and surrendered completely to the exquisite power of possession…
My Review
I’m really not sure why I continue with this series. At first while reading besides the bad use of adjectives and metaphors such as “gushing precum” really? What precum gushes. That’s why it’s precum and not cuming, because it’s a little amount. Anyways, I thought that the book was going okay (maybe because there was little plot and lots of sex, I had nothing to judge, lol) But then we crossed into a fifty moment.
I’m sorry I don’t want to think of another book while I’m reading yours. I’m tired of the similarities between the two series. Can we be more original? At this point, anything you write, you can’t claim ignorance of the other series.
Anyway, overall the sex was hot. I’m more of a Brett fan than a Gideon fan. I’m annoyed with SPOILER ALERT Gideon killing Nathan. What are we saying here to the public? And in light of recent events, this troubles me more. I’m not saying Nathan didn’t need killing. But he hadn’t actually done anything to Eva lately yet. So he killed a man for past sins. Who made him judge and jury? What if Eva woke up one day and realized her brain mistook who her predator was. Anyway, I’m playing devil’s advocate. This just crossed a morality issue for me.
Overall, will I read the next book? Probably, curiosity will get me to read. But I won’t jump and read it when it’s first released like a crazed fan, mostly because I’m not a crazed fan. Sorry.
My book boyfriend Gideon. (maybe I should have done Cary. Next time)
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Biting Cold (Chicagoland Vampires #6) by Chloe Neill

Biting Cold  (Chicagoland Vampires #6) by Chloe Neill
This is an adult urban fantasy (Rated R)
(Three Sad Hearts)

Book Summary

Turned into a vampire against her will, twenty-eight-year-old Merit found her way into the dark circle of Chicago’s vampire underground, where she learned there was more to supernaturals than met the eye—and more supernaturals than the public ever imagined. And not all the secrets she learned were for sharing—among humans or inhumans.

Now Merit is on the hunt, charging across the stark American Midwest, tailing a rogue supernatural intent on stealing an ancient artifact that could unleash catastrophic evil on the world. But Merit is also the prey. An enemy of Chicagoland is hunting her, and he’ll stop at nothing to get the book for himself. No mercy allowed. No rules apply. No lives spared. The race is on.

My Review

I’m not in love with this series. To give a quick recap why… This author had an awesome urban fantasy series that she tried to mix romance in and failed. We are given a hot sex scene in the beginning of the series that set a tone and expectation that isn’t followed up on. It wasn’t needed and if the author had no intentions of going down that road, she shouldn’t have put it in there. The romance was the most frustrating thing. The author was a cock tease at best and frigid at worst. It took far too many books for the couple to get together. For me, it didn’t add to the story, it only took away from it. This series would have rocked for me if the stilted romance was removed.
Now that my rant is over, I’ll say in this book we get more of the same. Merit a newly made vampire is relied on by not only those older and more experienced vampires around, we get the most ridiculous moment that made me lose credibility for Ethan. He asked in the most ridiculous fashion, “what should we do Merit?” And I’m like really????? He turned her vampire and is hundreds of years old and he asked her not like he wanted her opinion to help with ideas but as if he were clueless as to what to do. I was annoyed.

Not only that, but the author tried to build sexual tension between the couple to have them interrupted. Then afterwards, he had a come to Jesus moment and decided they shouldn’t be together. Really? God I’m so tired of that storyline. (and not only from this series). Still they did that dance several books ago. I’m like if she doesn’t want sex in the series, then don’t have it in there. Golly Gee.

Anyway, Merit continues to think that she as a newly made vampire is supposed to solve the city’s problems singlehandedly. She tries to explain herself and I wonder if the author has read some of my reviews, but I’m still not buying that gravy train.

Will I continue? Never say never. I read so many books, sometimes I forget why I shouldn’t be reading something. So it’s possible.

My book boyfriend is Ethan, sadly.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Black Moon (Ink, #3) by Holly Hood

Black Moon (Ink, #3) by Holly Hood
This is a New Adult paranormal romance novel (Rated NC-17)

Book Blurb...

Slade saved her life...
but none of that matters anymore...

Torn between her love for Slade and her own existence, Hope has to fight to keep one while battling to save the other. They say it all falls apart in the end. Walking away isn’t always easy.

Hope believed in Slade…
But sometimes belief has a horrible way of destroying your life.
Can their love survive or will it all just fall apart?

These giveaway is sponsored by the author/publisher

The first giveaway is for the 3rd ebook in the series, an ebook by author Brandi Salazar and a $20 Amazon gift card.

And the second giveaway is for those who have yet to read the series. The prize is all three in the series (Ink, Twisted Magic, and Black Moon) along with a $10 dollar Amazon gift card.

Make sure to mark it on Goodreads

Here is the link for the book on Amazon US:

My Review

I can’t get enough of this series. This book continues where we left off.
The problem, Slade is still on my shit list for parts of the book. And I am actually rooting for someone else to step in and take his place. Yeah, I know.
I can’t say what happens but I feel like Hope wasn’t the one that made the mistakes here in this story. Ever heard of the saying “Oh what a tangled web we weave.” Yeah, that’s the feeling I have in this story. I can only imagine what will happen next.
Overall, pick up this series if you haven’t already it’s a must read.
My book boyfriend Slade.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Twisted Magic (Ink #2) by Holly Hood

Twisted Magic (Ink #2) by Holly Hood

This is a New Adult paranormal romance (Rated NC-17)

(Five Amazing balls Hearts)

Book Summary

Hope is now a witch. She never realized becoming one meant dealing with evil. She soon is learning that being a witch comes with a lot of bad consequences. She is now a member of a dark circle that is bent on destruction. Evil is all around, begging her to join. She wants to be with Slade, but the darkness is a lot for a girl like Hope to handle.
She soon learns there is a side of Slade and magic that she wishes she never knew existed.
Soon she is battling a coven, and her own personal life.
Should she stay true to the girl she always was or take a chance with the greatest guy she ever met?
This new life could turn her into something evil; she has to decide if it is worth it.

My Review
So, I’ve been waiting forever to read this one. With so many review, ARCs and Betas, I don’t have time to read books (if they aren’t audio ones). I jumped all up and down when I received a copy.

This series is fantastic. Why? Not only is it unquie, it’s edgy and pushes the limits in a good way.
What we have here is Hope coming home from college all grown up. Gone is the child she was and now here is the woman she’s become. And coming home won’t be the sweet return she hoped for.

This book is jammed packed with twist and turns and dashes of yummy goodness. Oh and the romance. Slade made me want to slap him a time or two, but then Hutch was there always to catch me before I did. *swoon times a thousand for both of them.

I don’t blame hope for any of it. She did the best she could. Now I must have book 3 pronto.

My book boyfriend is Slade. But I’m giving you Hutch. (Slade looks like M Shadows if you need a visual.)


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dreamscape by Christie Rich

The day is finally here! Dreamscape is the first book in the Netherworld series by Christie Rich, and because I'm awesome, I'm helping her out today!

Here's the blurb:

Every night before Amelia falls asleep she makes a wish to dream of him – the man who calls her to their beautiful private oasis, her sanctuary where she is free of her greedy landlord’s threats. But tonight, he will not call Amelia to him. Tonight, another man will step into her world to claim her. Tonight, Amelia’s shattering reality will crumble - and disappear into the Dreamscape…along with her freedom.

When Amelia dreams tonight, her nightmare becomes her new world where Seth is her captor and anything is possible…except escape. Seth needs Amelia to break the curse that binds him to the Dreamscape. He must convince her that she was made to free him, that she was made to join him.

For if he fails, he will never escape his prison, and he will lose Earth to the Netherworld where the evil Erobos wait to consume the human realm and everything in it. If he fails, Seth will lose the one thing that matters to him: Amelia.

Do you want an excerpt?

Varner’s voice cuts through the front door just before three juddering bangs reach me. “I know you’re in there, Amelia. If you’re not gone by eight, I’m coming in.” His voice lowers, probably to avoid wandering ears. My spine stiffens more with each word. “You’d better be ready for me if you decide to stay.”

I’ve already packed my stuff. Pitiful as it is, one beat-up suitcase sits by the door.

I turn up the volume on my MP3 player until it won’t go any higher, clutching Justine’s picture to my chest. “Yeah!” I yell, my voice tight with anger. Hot tears cut a path down my cheeks. I scrub them away before they can slide any farther. To take my mind off the pit in my stomach, I grit my teeth until my jaw hurts. I need more time, but I’m not about to give Varner what he wants for it. “I got it. Go! Away!” I pull one bud out of my ear to make sure he’s leaving.

He says something about not signing leases with old ladies before his voice fades into nothing. The lecher thinks he’s got me.

Ha. No one has me, especially not him. And to think I used to consider him cute.

When I told Varner ‘no’ earlier, he didn’t exactly take me at my word, until I landed a good hit to his jugular. He shoved me down, and I let him go. On his way out he made no pretense about eyeing what’s left of Justine’s china doll collection. The minute he was through the door, I smashed the majority of them rather than have him get his hands on them. I really don’t have room, but I couldn’t destroy her favorite. She said it looked just like me.

I sold everything else to make last month’s rent, but I ran out of time with the dolls. I was hoping for a collector.

It doesn’t matter now.

Even though I’ve tried to pick up extra shifts at the diner, tips have been awful. I have two hundred bucks in my account, which Varner is not getting a penny of. I need everything I have to find a place to live. The reality of the moment sets in. This is my final night in Justine’s apartment.

The shabby place shouldn’t mean anything to me, but it still smells like her. She had this sweet perfume that she liked to slather on. I got used to it after a while. She wasn’t exactly old, either. Varner’s just too strung out to know the difference. He doesn’t even own the place, but he’s way better to deal with than his psychotic uncle, who likes to call me his chipmunk when nobody else is looking. One way or another, I’ll be out of here by six.

Justine used to say, “Stay sharp, kid. No one knows when their time’s up.” Well, she sure didn’t. Justine was my grandma. She died last month at only fifty-eight. She didn’t even get a lousy funeral. They stuck her in a furnace and handed me her remains. I took her up Provo canyon to Sundance and watched her float away on the wind. The cremation was expensive enough that I couldn’t afford a separate plot for her. I couldn’t have brought myself to visit the cemetery anyway. Besides, we all crumble to dust one way or another. She is better off flying.

No matter what my life becomes, Justine saved me from tumbling around the foster system. I had a few years of stable, and I’ll never forget what she did for me. She helped me to see there are other ways of living. Although we didn’t have much to live on, we were never short on love.
I miss her fiercely. If she were here, she’d tell me to get over it, so I’m trying.

Thank my lucky stars she waited until I got my diploma to ditch me; although, I’m not quite sure how it’ll help me now. I’m alone in this world.

My mom only made it to twenty-one before she overdosed on crack. My dad lasted to a ripe old age of thirty. He got killed in some weird accident when I was twelve. I never saw him anyway, so my life hasn’t been much different since he bit it. As far as I know, he was short on family too. If he does have family stashed somewhere on this planet, I probably wouldn’t want to know them. He never did a thing for me, so why would they?

Justine was my ticket to normal, and she left me with no money, no prospects—unless you count the hazy offer I got from Roberto.

I hang out with him when I have nothing else to do. When I told him the news he graciously asked me to share his pad under the viaduct. I gave him a swift ‘no thank you’ even though I should have told him not even if I weren’t half his age and he had most of his teeth. I couldn’t hurt his feelings like that. One day, once I’m settled and he’s still around, I’m going to do something to help him.
If I hadn’t just turned eighteen I might have found somewhere to camp in the foster system for a while. As horrible of a thought as it is, being homeless is probably better than wading through families until one stuck or I got kicked out again.

With nothing else to do, I try to sleep. Try is the operative word. Ever since my grandma went, I can’t seem to stay in slumberland. It doesn’t help that I haven’t seen Jason, either.

Although Jason is a figment of my imagination, he’s helped me through some rough times. I’ve dreamt of him every night for nearly four years now, at least I used to. I haven’t had that particular dream in two weeks, and as stupid as it is, I miss him. After Justine died, he held me on the grass while I cried, listening to the beat of his heart and the thrum of the waterfall behind us. I’ve wished him alive or that I could join him in that place for good so many times. I cry every time I wake up without him.

Maybe it’s for the best that he’s gone. Dreams aren’t real, and a dream boyfriend can’t help me find a new place to live.

I shift onto my side, adjusting my pillow, trying not to think about the dingy beige carpet under my arms. It prickles my skin, but everything else is gone. Even if I hadn’t already packed the one I kept, it’s too hot for a blanket.

Focusing on the beat of the music, I sway, Justine’s picture lying beside me, and will myself to sleep. Somewhere between my thoughts about tomorrow and dawn I drift away.

My dreams shift and whirl until my mind rests in the familiar oasis I’ve sought out for years. Finally.
The afternoon sun warms my moistened skin as I take in the jagged cliffs in front of me and the thick jungle that surrounds the pool, trying to locate him. The breeze brings an intoxicating aroma of tropical blooms. Every time I come here, I’m wet, yet I don’t know how I got that way. “Jason?” I call.

No answer.

Where is he?

My teeth clamp onto the inside of my upper lip. I’ve never been away from the water, but I need to find him. He has to be here.

If nothing else, I’d like to tell him goodbye…thank you. I have no idea if I’ll see him again, and his absence presses in on me. This world is not right without him.

The cool grass bends under my bare feet while a breeze blows wet tendrils into my eyes. I glance up at the falls. Last time I was here, Jason dared me to dive from the top of the waterfall. Here, I can do anything. Fear is meaningless, or is it? Strangely, tension prickles my spine.

A foreign tremor rushes along my skin, leaving a trail of goose bumps in its wake. I scan every inch of the landscape until my eyes meet someone else’s gaze.

It is not Jason.

The man is tall with dark hair like Jason, but everything else about him is wrong. He’s standing twenty feet away from me at the edge of the jungle. The wind picks up, blowing his brown locks around his chiseled features.

As he steps closer, I glance behind me to the pool, judging the distance. I should be able to get away from him if I need to.

When I face him again, he’s standing directly in front of me. My heart explodes and my body coils to run.

He doesn’t move to touch me, but his eyes hold a warning his lips confirm. “We have no time. He’s coming for you. Learn all you can then find me. Prepare yourself!”

I jolt upright, my fingers digging into the carpet. I’m breathing so hard I have to wait a minute to stand up. What the hell kind of dream was that?

Somehow, I always thought the oasis was mine and Jason’s, as if no one else existed but us. That guy violated our sanctuary. A gusty laugh comes out of me from the thought. A dream man violated my dream. His warning still echoes in my throbbing veins.

A bit unsteady, I make my way into the kitchen. My fingers fumble for the light switch, but nothing happens when I flip it. Yeah, I forgot. The power was shut off yesterday. At least the water still works.

I hope.

Clutching my cup, I fiddle with the sink until I finally get the knob to twist. The tepid water eases my dry throat, but it does nothing for my nerves, or my belly. It groans at me again. I’m going to have to eat soon, even if I have to check the dumpsters behind Fred’s Bakery. There’s no point in checking the fridge. I found the final remnants of food the day before last. For not the first time, I wonder what I’m going to do when tomorrow comes. Two hundred dollars aren’t enough for anything. Even if I use it only for food, it will disappear before I get paid again, and that’s assuming I don’t get canned for not having a mailing address.

Even though it’s three AM, I’m gonna head out. I have a lot to do today, and since I can’t sleep, I might as well get started. When I find the faucet again and shut it off, my ears prickle with an unwelcome noise.

A door creeks open and I stiffen where I stand.


All I’ve got to defend myself are my fists, my feet and my plastic cup. My knife is in my bag. Light from the living room filters through the doorway. He probably thinks he’s gonna blind me with his flashlight so he can get his greedy hands on me. Not in this lifetime.

I inch my way to the doorway and peek around it. What meets my gaze doesn’t make any sense.

A man stands opposite me, framed by the closet. His big body could never be mistaken for that of Varner Walsh.

The light behind him comes from a roaring fire that somehow spans forever. Orange flames dance and flicker, casting his face in shadow while haloing him in gold.
I’m dreaming. I have to be.

I’ve had some weird ones lately, but nothing has been as real as this. When I dig my nails into my palms, the dream theory disintegrates with the pain.

Maybe he’s a fireman, but where’s the smoke? Why aren’t the flames burning anything? Where’s his gear? He’s wearing a suit for hell’s sake.

His face turns as if he’s scanning the room, so I take the opportunity to scurry to the opposite wall.
My pulse pounds in my ears and sweat drips down my back. From here, the front door is four, maybe five lunges away. If he goes into the bedroom, I might be able to—

“Amelia?” he calls, his deep voice somehow familiar.

That’s impossible. I don’t know him, but even if I did I wouldn’t stick around. Who told this guy I was here? He can’t be with Child Protective Services. I no longer qualify. My mind flits back to the weird fire. I’m not sticking around to figure out his magic act.

I make my move, jetting through the near-empty living room. My fingers fumble with the bolt before I move for the lock on the knob. I’m taking too long. He’s going to—

Arms clamp around me, hauling me up against a wall of muscle. The shock nearly makes me pee myself. My mouth opens on a scream, but he whirls me around and tosses me over his shoulder, cutting off my air.

I kick and punch and bite into cloth. He twists around, making my head spin on delirium.
I scream for help, but my throat thickens immediately. I struggle to breathe. I can’t think.

He bends until my face is right over his rear end, but he stands up before I can sink my teeth into anything substantial. As if he’s getting comfortable, he jostles me around. My pulse quickens while my head hurts from the rush of blood and fear. When he moves toward the closet, I find my voice.

“Help!” I scream, kicking and punching against his hard muscles.

No one answers as he plunges us into the flames.

I expect death, but what I get is deposited on my rear end in a spacious room with a wall of fire at my back. My eyes sweep the perimeter of what looks like an upscale apartment with a bed tucked in one corner and a living area in front of me. The dark paneled walls lend an old world feel that is only mirrored by the heavy furnishings. There are rich velvets and leather. Even the air is different. Instead of Justine’s sweet scent, a dark musk fills the space.

How is this possible? We were just in my hall closet.

The man steps away from me. His chest lifts with each sharp breath he takes.

The flames should have fried me, but I’m here. I have to be dreaming. The only thing is, I don’t quite think I am. It’s absurd to think that, but the heat from the fire wall has intensified now that the guy is standing away from me. Sweat drips down my scalp and my shirt clings to my back. I’m going to have to move soon.

The only thing is I don’t know what this guy will do. I turn my head and look through the flames, but all I see is a huge pendulum, like from a clock, swinging back and forth.

All of the sudden the flames disappear and all that remains is a crevice that runs the length of what should be a wall. The pendulum is easier to see now, at least the lower half. The upper part of it is cut off by the ceiling. Only darkness lies beyond the fire pit, like it opens into a cavern.
This has got to be the strangest place I’ve ever seen.

“I know you must be frightened,” says the man. “I’m sorry about that. I have much to explain to you. Would you please join me on the sofa?”

“As if,” I tell him. Even though I’m still thinking this has to be a dream, I ask, “Who are you? What is this place? Why am I here?”

His voice comes out low, guttural. “You don’t remember me?”

“I’ve never seen you in my life.”

Intense blue eyes latch onto mine. “Things are not always what they appear, Amelia.”

This is a dream. He’s a figment of my imagination.

A smile stretches on his full lips. “In time, all will be revealed.”

He takes a step toward me and I jump to my feet. I move back and back until my feet are near the pit.

Even this close, I can’t see what’s beyond it.

“Stay away from me,” I tell him.

He spreads his hands, but his eyes are wild. Veins on his forearms bulge as he puts his hands in his pockets. “Please. Let me explain.”

I nod, taking a seat on the floor again. There is no way I’m getting anywhere near him, dream or not.

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About the Author

I grew up daydreaming about fairytales, and my love for discovering new worlds has never died. I am not one of those writers who always knew I would write. I thought that was what other people did until one day a few years ago, I took a challenge from a friend and typed my first words. My journey has been wonderful, and I cannot imagine a day where I would ever give up writing. My love for reading is what fueled my imagination in the first place and still does. When I am not writing or reading, I am enjoying family time with my husband and two children. My family and I live in a quiet community in Northern Utah, and I am so thankful for the rich life I have been blessed with.