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THE FLOWERING SERIES

Flowering is the story of Jack and Lily. They’re college kids with their own issues, who manage to find each other. What starts as physical attraction and sexual awakening becomes so much more. Jack is troubled, with a past that makes it hard for him to see the future. Lily comes from a perfect world where she’s expected to play the role she was given. When they’re together, though, Jack becomes someone even he cares for, and Lily becomes whole.

This series is about growing up, about “flowering” into the person you become. It’s also about love and how it starts with one chance encounter and turns into a lifetime. Jack and Lily don’t have it easy, but they have each other. They’re not billionaires or rock stars or undercover agents; they’re just college kids looking to be a little less alone in the world.

Now complete in one volume. Includes the short stories, “Her Brother’s Best Friend” and “Morning Glory;” the novels, Forget Me Not, Lily of the Valley, Blue Rose, and Orange Blossom; and the novellas, Star of Bethlehem and Ambrosia.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah’s Website / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Goodreads

Sarah Daltry writes about the regular people who populate our lives. She’s written works in various genres – romance, erotica, fantasy, horror. Genre isn’t as important as telling a story about people and how their lives unfold. Sarah tends to focus on YA/NA characters but she’s been known to shake it up. Most of her stories are about relationships – romantic, familial, friendly – because love and empathy are the foundation of life. It doesn’t matter if the story is set in contemporary NY, hissarahtorical Britain, or a fantasy world in the future – human beings are most interesting in the ways they interact with others. This is the principle behind all of Sarah’s stories.

Sarah has spent most of her life in school, from her BA and MA in English and writing to teaching both at the high school and college level. She also loves studying art history and really anything because learning is fun.

When Sarah isn’t writing, she tends to waste a lot of time checking Facebook for pictures of cats, shooting virtual zombies, and simply staring out the window.

 

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MindGames_med
Mind Games
 is the much awaited third installment in the new adult mystery series, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Talented author Christine Amsden keeps delivering a great story filled with interesting characters, romance, mystery, and the paranormal, lots of it.

In this episode, Cassie still doesn’t know why Evan broke her heart two months ago, and the mystery gnaws at her big time. She decides to keep busy and make herself useful at the sheriff’s department. She also meets charismatic mind mage Matthew Blair…much to Evan’s distaste. At the same time, Eagle Rock is teeming with hate from the religious community, a reaction to the recent murder of a much-esteemed pastor’s wife by what the people believe was a sorcerer. The town is about to snap, with tensions between the magical and non-magical communities.

And in the center of all this, is Matthew, whom Cassie finds irresistible. But can she trust him? According to Evan, no way. But then, Evan isn’t the most objective person when it comes to Cassie. Evan and Cassie have a history, as well as a secret connection, that keeps them bound in spite of themselves.

Will Cassie discover the real culprit or culprits behind the pastor’s wife’s murder, as well as the real face behind the anti-magical propaganda and demonstrations? Most importantly, will she wake up and see Matthew for who he really is…and find the courage to face Evan for what he did to her—when she finds out?

I love this series and thoroughly enjoyed this instalment! There’s something about Cassie’s voice that makes her really likable. She has a good heart and is witty, too. But best of all, she is just an ordinary girl next door trying to do her best in spite of everything that happens around her—which is usually pretty remarkable, as is often the case in paranormal stories.

Her relationship with Evan keeps evolving organically and there’s a major revelation in this book about their connection and the secret behind their rival families. Matthew is a great addition to this episode, adding tension with his charismatic personality and inciting sparks of jealousy from Evan. The conflict between the religious and the magical communities is also well done.

Mind Games kept me reading late into the night, wondering what would happen next. If you haven’t read any books in this series before, I urge you to pick up book one first, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. The books are best read in order. You won’t be disappointed.

Purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Connect with the author on the web: 

Website / Newsletter / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+

My review was originally published on Blogcritics

 

 

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Weak at the Knees smTitle: Weak at the Knees
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Author: Jo Kessel
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 292
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1490397604
ISBN-13: 978-1490397603

Purchase at AMAZON

We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.”

Danni Lewis has been playing it safe for twenty-six years, but her sheltered existence is making her feel old ahead of time. When a sudden death plunges her into a spiral of grief, she throws caution to the wind and runs away to France in search of a new beginning.

The moment ski instructor Olivier du Pape enters her shattered world she falls hard, in more ways than one.

Their mutual desire is as powerful and seductive as the mountains around them. His dark gypsy looks and piercing blue eyes are irresistible.

Only she must resist, because he has a wife – and she’d made a pact to never get involved with a married man.

But how do you choose between keeping your word and being true to your soul?

Weak at the Knees is Jo’s debut novel in the new adult, contemporary romance genre – a story of love and loss set between London and the heart of the French Alps.

First Chapter:

I don’t like being English. I never have. It’s always felt like such an un-sexy nationality. Let’s face it, if any foreigner were asked to conjure up a vision of the typical male Brit, most likely they’d be thinking of someone slightly overweight, over-boozed and over sunburned. Most other Europeans fare better. The Italians are all considered hot-blooded Romeos whilst the Scandinavians are a blonde bunch of Adonis’s. As for the French, granted they have a reputation for being curt and unfaithful, but deep down the rest of the world respects their infidelity, crediting the lot with being expert lovers even though most of them probably aren’t. The most flattering of British descriptions is that of an English Rose, but that wouldn’t fit someone like me. Far from being a sinewy blonde with a porcelain complexion, I’m more a pint-sized pre-Raphaelite – short, with waist-length brown curly hair and far too many curves. Not that being an English rose is a particularly flattering description anyway. Yes, it might be a beauteous flower, but it’s also got prickly stems which snare. No, in my opinion, whichever way you look at it, on a global, sexual scale, being English isn’t often an asset.

Hugo’s English. He’s as stiff upper lip Hooray Henry as they come. He’s tall and good-looking in that pretty, public schoolboy, foppish kind of way and he’s a charmer to boot. Think Hugh Grant and you’re not far off the mark – although if it was a toss up between Hugh (particularly the Four Weddings Hugh) and Hugo, there’d be no competition. It would be Grant all the way. I’ve always had a bit of a crush on him. Ironically, many women from all over the world would probably jump at the chance to jump on my Hugo because he’s English. Not because he’s the typical Brit though, but because he’s got the Hugh Grant factor and foreign females fall for that kind of thing. It’s the look, the manners and the self-deprecation. For me, however, nothing beats your language being spoken by somebody who’s not from your country. It’s undeniably sexy. It’s why I like foreigners.

Hugo is what you’d call a catch. My mother definitely thinks so. I’m sure she’s secretly hoping we’ll end up together. Son-in-law material doesn’t come any better. She could show him off and brag away till the cows came home. “My Danni’s Hugo” she’d boast to all her friends, with an air of smug superiority, “He’s a Barrister. He’s ever so clever.”

Indeed he is. Apparently you need to be fluent in Ancient Greek and Latin to get a first in Classics at Oxford like Hugo. Now, that might seem a useless skill to the less educated of us – after all there are no more ancient Greeks or Romans with whom to converse – but you’ve still got to be bloody brilliant to master it. You try making head or tail of a page of Homer’s Iliad! You’d soon understand why they coined the phrase ‘It’s all Greek to me’.

We met when I was fifteen. He was a couple of years older. “Danni Lewis” he’d remarked, at the end of our first proper conversation at some run-of-the mill teen party we’d gone to. “I think you’re great. You’re so original. You’re so enigmatic.”

“Well, thanks very much,” I’d replied. “You’re pretty nice too.” What I’d really wanted to ask was ‘what the hell does ‘enigmatic’ mean?’ I didn’t dare though because I didn’t want to come across as intellectually inferior. He’d clearly assumed that I was as clever as he was, which meant knowing a word like enigmatic even at the age of fifteen. These days I work hard at not making assumptions, although most of the time I fail dismally. I suspect we all do.

Anyway, as soon as I got back home I’d fired up my computer and checked the meaning of the word ‘enigmatic’ on an on-line dictionary. ‘Deliberately mysterious’ or ‘puzzling’ were the definitions I got. I’d liked that. It conjured up a vision of someone beautiful but unobtainable, a woman over whom you could obsess but not possess; a woman about whom one could never assume.

It took us ages to get together. We indulged in hours of what we called phone sex. In truth there was nothing remotely sexual about it. A typical late night, tucked up in bed conversation would go as follows:

HUGO: “Watch you doin?”

ME: “Mmmmmm, I’m just lying here, thinking about you lying there. Where are you, watch YOU doin?”

HUGO: “I’m just lying here on my bed, thinking about you lying there.”

ME: “U ON your bed or IN your bed?”

HUGO: “I’m on it.”

ME: “Well, why don’t you get in it?”

HUGO: “Why?”

And so the scintillating dialogue would continue – although you’d have thought that a bloke who was destined to get a first from Oxford might be able to make slightly more dynamic conversation. I think the reason it took me six months to secure a date was because I kept being too enigmatic. The deliberately mysterious and puzzling me was quite clearly sending out the wrong signals. Hugo assumed I wasn’t interested.

Eventually one day, we were both sitting on my box room bed at my parents’ house in Hendon, north London, playing this stupid truth yes or no game when he came clean and I came clean and it was all very sweet and a date was put in the diary.

—————————————————————

I was ten years old and having lunch with my grandmother. I think I’d just dared to ask (even though she was eighty-two) if she was still having sex with my grandfather. She never answered the question, but decided it was time to offer some useful advice. She must have got this from a Mills and Boon novel, because she sure as hell didn’t get it from her marriage. She was a Polish immigrant and married the first man she’d met on British soil. She spent the rest of her life trying to make the best of it. The conversation was remarkably one-sided and as usual, she kept getting her V’s and W’s mixed up. It’s a common Eastern-European linguistic affliction apparently. Anyway, the mentor-like chat went a bit like this.

“Danni darling.”

“Yes grandma?”

“Now I vant to tell you something and I vant you to try to remember it ven you get older.”

“Ok Grandma”.

“If a man ewwer makes you wery dizzy ven you kiss him, make sure you newwer let him go. You vant to make sure you marry him.”

“Why? Does Grandpa make you wery dizzy?”

“Eat your lunch Danni”.

I was on the brink of repeating my original ‘are you and grandpa still having sex’ question, but thought against it, gagging myself with a forkful of lamb and mushy peas. With hindsight, I wish I hadn’t held back. I mean, do most octogenarians still have sex? If so, what are the chances of cardiac arrest mid-orgasm?

——————————————-

Anyway, Hugo didn’t make me wery dizzy when he kissed me, but it was still very nice and he did make me happy. Phone sex progressed to pillow talk and we had a really good, solid relationship. He knew me inside out and always had an uncanny knack of knowing exactly what I was thinking, which often got me in a lot of trouble.

I loved his company. He made me laugh and he stimulated me intellectually. I mean, how many other seventeen-year olds do you know who are nicknamed Ariadne? That’s what he’s always called me. It took a while for me to pluck up the courage to ask who Ariadne actually was. It turned out she was this Princess from Greek mythology who fell in love with a bloke called Theseus who was due to be offered as a sacrificial victim to the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster. But in order to save her loved one from his horrible fate she’d stuffed a ball of thread into his pocket as he was led into this prison of a labyrinth, meant to be impossible to escape from. But thanks to her (and the thread) he did escape and was never sacrificed and they lived happily ever after.

Hugo said he hoped an imaginary trail of string would always lead him to me, which is why he’d called me Ariadne. I think he was secretly hoping that I’d embrace this story with a bit more enthusiasm by calling him Theseus. But I couldn’t. It all felt a bit too un-cool. I preferred calling him Achilles, which really pissed him off because it didn’t demonstrate the same level of love and commitment. He hated the thought that he might be my Achilles heel. “Lighten up”, I’d said. “Don’t take everything so bloody literally.”

I’ve got to hand it to him though. He’s the only person who’s ever got me into a bath under the auspices of scientific experimentation. One day he’d told me to bring my bikini with when I went round. I’d hoped that meant we were going to his parents’ posh health club, and was frankly a bit miffed when I got there and he said we were staying put. “Why did I bring my bikini then?” I’d protested. “My fault” he apologised. “You probably don’t need it. But we are doing something with water.”

He led me into his parents’ bathroom. The tub had been filled to the brim. Curiously there were a whole load of plastic measuring jugs strewn across the floor. He explained that he’d been learning all about this Greek mathematician, Archimedes, the first person to work out that the volume of an object placed in a fluid was equal to the volume of the amount of fluid displaced by that object when submerged.

For some bizarre reason, Hugo wanted to work out my body mass Archimedes style. He’d drilled a small hole just above the water line. The plan was that when I got in the bath, my body mass would trickle out the hole and Hugo would be waiting to collect it in the measuring jugs.

“I don’t give a toss what my body mass is Hugo. I don’t even understand what you’re going on about.”

“Don’t be such a killjoy Danni. It’ll take five minutes.”

So off I went to put on my swimsuit and came back to stand hovering by the bath.

“Are you sure this is going to work?” I was no scientist, but felt pretty certain all would not go according to plan.

“Of course it will” snapped Hugo.

I stepped gingerly into the tub. A little bit of water trickled into a jug Hugo was holding up to the hole. “OK, you can sit down now Danni. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it so slowly, it’s all under control.” So I plonked myself down and Hugo looked on in horror as the volume of my body mass cascaded over the edge of the bath onto his parents’ cream shag pile, bypassing his too small hole entirely.

“Achilles, I think you should stick to the Arts,” I laughed.

“Oh shut up Ariadne. You never wanted it to work in the first place!”

See, told you he always knew exactly what I was thinking. Anyway, never one to miss out on a golden opportunity, and seeing as I was already in the bath, he told me to shove up and let some of the water out. He took off his clothes and sloshed himself beside me. Secretly I think the whole thing had been about getting me half-naked in the bath with him. Christ knows why he hadn’t just suggested that in the first place.

—————————

Even by the age of eighteen Hugo and I had spoken loads of times about marriage. “Do you think we’ll end up together” he’d ask.

I’d pondered and then joked about a possible scenario. “I don’t know. If you ever asked me I’m sure I should say yes, but probably wouldn’t. I reckon I’ll be more intent on screwing up my life. Maybe I’ll come crying to you when I’m mid-thirties and divorced, by which time you’ll probably be blissfully married to somebody else and I’ll have to live with the fact that I had the chance of happiness but turned it down.

I don’t know what it is about Hugo. Many people would dream of having what we have. It’s just sometimes I find myself in the kitchen of our Highgate flat (technically his flat, but we both live in it) sticking lemon sole under the grill when I should be out being wild and reckless.

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ImageCassie came to me, I didn’t go to her.  

I finished The Immortality Virus late in the fall of 2008, and though I took pride in my second novel, I felt worn out (creatively). When the new year came, bringing with it the opportunity for all kinds of writerly resolutions, I decided I needed to take the year off. I would read, blog, journal, but otherwise give my muse time to heal. 

I didn’t make it a year. It turns out, I really am a writer. Writers write. We can’t not write. Taking the pressure off my muse did turn out to have been a great idea, but putting a time frame on it was a bit naive.  

Cassie came to me in mid-February, as I played on the floor with me (then) 9-month-old daughter. I won’t go so far as to say she popped into my head fully formed, but it was close. I sat bolt upright, my eyes probably doing that cartoon bulge, as a light bulb appeared over my head.  

What if… What if the hero of a fantasy story was the only one in it without magic?  

I wrote the first line of the story as soon as my daughter went down for a nap. It read: “My parents think the longer the name, the more powerful the sorcerer, so they named me Nicolas Merlin Apollonius Roger Scot. You can call me Nick.” 

Okay, so it needed work. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted a female heroine. Nicolas (who does not go by Nick and might set you on fire if you tried) became the oldest of Cassie’s siblings. 

After that, Cassie told me new things about herself every day. I had a rough draft by the end of June.

—————————————————–

Award-winning author Christine Amsden has written stories since she was eight, always with a touch of the strange or unusual. She became a “serious” writer in 2003, after attending a boot Imagecamp with Orson Scott Card. She finished Touch of Fate shortly afterward, then penned The Immortality Virus, which won two awards. Expect many more titles by this up-and-coming author.

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Find Christine Amsden on the web: 

Web Site: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/

Blog: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/?page_id=200

Facebook: Christine Amsden

Twitter: @ChristineAmsden

Goodreads: Christine Amsden

Goodreads Q&A Group: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/48134-q-a-with-christine-amsden

 

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Reviews: 

“When sorcerers call the shots, what’s a girl without powers to do? Get ready for a ripper of a murder mystery full of romance and intrigue, where magic potions bubble, passions spark and vampires are definitely not your friend. Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective grabs you by the heart and won’t let go until the very last page. Well written, immersive and unputdownable. This is urban fantasy at its best. More please!” 

–Kim Falconer, bestselling author of The Spell of Rosette, Quantum Enchantment Series

 

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