Monday, October 24, 2022

Book Blitz & Giveaway - SON OF THE SALT CHASER (Salt Chasers, #2) by A.S. Thornton

Son of the Salt Chaser
A.S. Thornton
(Salt Chasers, #2)
Publication date: November 8th 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

The gift of magic may be a curse.

After her desert-transforming wish, Emel follows Saalim to Madinat Almulihi to reclaim all she has lost. But the seaside city is not what she expected. When she is tasked with assisting the palace healer, she is faced daily with the reminder that Saalim—focused only on seeking the revenge of those who killed his family—does not remember her at all.

Cursing the magic that destroyed her love and brought her to an unwelcoming city, Emel regrets her decision to leave her settlement. That is, until she meets Kas. Though inscrutable, he is the first person to help her forget her past, and the pull of finding happiness with him tempts her from the life she wished for with Saalim.

But darkness waits in the desert, and not all people in Madinat Almulihi are what they seem. When Emel understands she is entangled in the fate of the city—and of Saalim—she is faced with the realization that magic may be the most powerful card in her hand. It might be the only way to save all that she loves, but if she plays her hand wrong, it could destroy everything.

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Leaning back onto my hands, I pushed my feet into the cool water. My raw, blistered skin welcomed the relief.

“What do you think they’re doing?” Firoz asked, nudging me with his own submerged foot.

Soldiers from Madinat Almulihi stood across the large pool. I would have assumed they were cooling themselves, too, but the longer I watched, the more I saw that there was a pattern—almost a rhythm—to the way they dipped their hands into the water and pressed it to their brows, wrists, and necks.

“Praying,” a voice said from behind me. A voice so achingly familiar it took all of my strength not to jump from the ground and rush to him.

Slowly, I turned to Saalim.

In our few days of travel, I had come to understand that he and his men behaved differently from my father and his court. It still surprised me that their king—my king—could appear so unlike a royal. His dark sirwal was rolled at his calves, his feet bare. He wore no weapons, and the black tunic across his chest was dust-covered and almost tattered at the edges; the guthra that loosely wrapped his face, equally worn. Had Saalim himself not told me tales of the wealth and allure of Madinat Almulihi, I would not believe that it was a city worth seeing at all.

“Eiqab will strain to hear,” Firoz said.

Saalim looked away from his soldiers down to Firoz. “We worship the giver, not the punisher.”

“Wahir,” I said. How strange it was to see someone praying to the lesser god. How wrong.

Saalim’s gaze met mine.

A rush of cold and hot, longing and desperation, and . . . Sons, how didn’t he feel it? Couldn’t he see me as I saw him? I felt as I had the first time he looked at me after he became human again, when he had killed my father and his eyes locked on mine. I stared back, willing him to feel, to remember as I did . . . the set of his jaw hard beneath my fingers, his lips against my own, his breath warm as I pulled it into my lungs. His hands so careful against my skin, his heart beating against my breast, the tremor of his voice as he said my name.

“Emel, isn’t it?” he asked.

The memories scattered. I bent my head to the ground, not wanting him to see my grimace. He felt nothing, remembered nothing. Sons, he did not know me at all.

Masira was a devious goddess, giving so much but taking as much in return. Damn her magic that she unfurled like a woven rug! Something beautiful to cover all of the ugly scars and secrets, to distract from them. But that was all the magic did, wasn’t it? What it tried to remove, it did so sloppily. Everything still lay underneath the threads.

“Yes, she is Emel,” Firoz said loudly.

I looked back to Saalim, brushing away my thoughts like sand on my palms.

Saalim continued. “Today, you and . . .”

“Firoz,” he said.

Saalim paused at the name, his brow pulling together slightly before he continued.

“Firoz. I am still learning. You both will help with the cook-fires.” Then he turned from us and continued around the water’s edge.

“Well, I at least know food is cooked on a fire. What do you know about cooking?” Firoz chuckled. His mother always cooked for his family, and I had had no business working in the palace kitchens as an ahira.

I forced a laugh as I watched Saalim walk away.

“What bothers you?” Firoz asked.

I shook my head.

“He’s just a king, Emel. Same heart that can be pierced by blade.” He stabbed the air with an invisible blade.

Author Bio:

A. S. Thornton is the author of award-winning Daughter of the Salt King (CamCat Books, 2021), the first book in the Salt Chasers duology. She has evolved from book blogger to author with a particular fondness for writing forbidden love in ancient deserts. She lives with her family in Northern California. When not writing, she’s taking care of dogs and cats as a veterinarian. You’ll never find animals at the center of her writing, though. Those fictional worlds don’t have veterinarians and her literal brain can’t accept that the poor critters would be without parasite prevention.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Book Blitz & Giveaway - LIKE A HERO by Michael J. Bowler

Like A Hero
Michael J. Bowler
Publication date: October 18th 2022
Genres: Action, Adventure, Young Adult

Courage can be costly. Orphaned brothers Vincent and Dennis Villanueva learn the truth of those words when they create a masked crime fighter and turn him loose on Los Angeles. The brainchild of fourteen-year-old Dennis and embodied in twenty-one-year-old Vincent, “Invictus” hits the streets to jumpstart apathetic Angelenos into taking a more active role in their city.

But reality isn’t a comic book. Vincent finds poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, abuse, and cast-off children. Labeled a vigilante and criminal, the shy grad student with formidable martial arts talent and abysmal people skills soon doubts his ability to make an impact.

Forced to straddle an ambiguous line between moral and legal, he becomes disheartened and secretive, hiding the truth of what he’s doing from Dennis and driving a wedge between them. Feeling neglected, Dennis infiltrates a dangerous drug ring to show Vincent he can be just as heroic, not knowing that the woman in charge is weaving an insidious plot against Invictus as part of her citywide scheme of vengeance. In a race against time, Vincent must regain Dennis’s trust before the brother he loves is lost to him forever.

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Dennis lay face down on the soccer field, while men in ski masks strolled among his prone classmates waving semi-automatic weapons at anyone who moved. He considered employing his martial arts skills, but being skinny and only passably good, such foolish courage would probably get him killed.

He shook his hair from in front of his eyes with a slight jerking motion and focused on James and Linda, lying on the field off to the side with the rest of the parents.

James had his head slightly raised and Dennis caught his eye. When a gun- man approached, James quickly returned his face to the grass. James wanted to intervene. That was obvious by the way he kept looking around for some kind of opening. But could he do anything without getting people killed?

The masked men called themselves “anarchists” and were well armed. Despite lying prone for the past forty minutes, Dennis had managed to spot sentries pa- trolling the rooftops, apparently stationed there to prevent the cops outside from storming the school and making their way to the field. He’d also noted the types of weapons these guys carried and considered how best each could be disarmed if this was a comic book scenario.

Except it wasn’t.

He considered the anarchists’ claims. They said they were “anti-capitalism” and “anti-public-school indoctrination,” but then they demanded twenty million as ransom for not killing him and his classmates, which sounded pretty capitalistic to him.

Raising his eyes once more, he noted a big, broad-shouldered dude wearing a black and blue ski mask, staring right at him while chatting with a burly guy holding an Uzi. Dennis averted his eyes and hoped he hadn’t called too much attention to himself. He’d overheard them earlier as they conversed by walkie-talkie. Masked guy was called “C-1” and burly guy “C-2” by the other anarchists, so he figured they ran the show.

He glanced over at Jackson and Kenny lying a few feet away. His two best friends looked terrified. Jackson’s curly hair partially hid his brown eyes, but Kenny’s bright blue ones screamed pure fear. Dennis tried for an encouraging smile, but it was difficult with his cheek pressed against the grass.

All his comic book scenarios started much like this one, except the hero al- ways knew what to do. As annoying as Robin could be, he’d know what to do even if Batman wasn’t around. Dennis’s mind raced with ideas. He knew James was packing—on duty or off, James always packed. But if he pulled his gun, kids would die.

I wish I’d thought of something when these guys first showed up.

Instead, he’d frozen with fear when the masked men flooded onto the field. And now with everything that had gone down since, Dennis trembled with the terrifying possibility that someone would die. Maybe him. Sadly, he wasn’t the hero of his dreams.

He peered at the administration buildings. Long and single story, the two main wings spread the length of the field. His gaze traveled up and he squinted with confusion. The sentry who’d been on duty at the north end was gone.

What the…?

Dennis knew his weaponry from playing Call of Duty and other war games, and that guy had been patrolling with an Artic Warfare Super Magnum sniper rifle, likely a .338 Lapua Magnum, but Dennis was too far away to be sure of the model.

Only now the guy was gone. With C-2 barely ten feet away, Dennis used caution to scan the south roof. That sentry was gone, too. SWAT maybe? He knew James’ mean-ass boss would have called in the big guns for something like this. But he was also sure those sentries had been up there no more than two minutes ago.

Could it be Invictus?

His heart thumped with hope. Vincent must know about this by now. Dennis pressed his face into the grass and pretended to look scared. Hell, he didn’t have to pretend. He was scared!

Author Bio:

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author who grew up in Northern California. He majored in English/Theatre at Santa Clara University, earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and a master’s in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills. Michael taught high school in Hawthorne, California, both in general education and to students with disabilities. When Michael is not writing, he serves as a youth mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles, but mostly he takes care of his recently adopted son. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California and hopes that his books can show young people they are not alone in their struggles.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Book Blitz & Giveaway - REASONS WHY NOT TO DATE YOUR NEMESIS (Shell Grove, #2) by Melanie Munton

Reasons Why Not to Date Your Nemesis
Melanie Munton
(Shell Grove, #2)
Publication date: October 4th 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

There’s a new sheriff in town…
And he’s her worst nightmare.

Reason #1: Ben Crawford is Olivia Knight’s long-time arch rival. They’ve been sworn enemies ever since she wore overalls to school one day, and he asked her in homeroom where she parked her cow. Now that he’s back, it doesn’t appear much has changed. He’s still arrogant. He’s still trouble. And this time, he’s got a badge and handcuffs. Which will make murdering him and disposing of his body much more challenging for her.

Reason #2: Sheriff Ben has done a lot of growing up during his time away from Shell Grove. He went and got himself some muscles and tattoos, and has the nerve to wear that sheriff’s uniform absurdly well. For some reason, that’s all she can seem to focus on whenever they cross paths. All the nice changes he’s made, instead of how vehemently she’s vowed to hate his guts for all eternity.

Reason #3: The complicated connection that has forever entwined their lives doesn’t have a pleasant backstory. As adults, they should be able to forget what happened when they were teenagers and move on. But in a small town where everyone has long memories, there are reminders everywhere of the nasty events that destroyed both of their families years ago. And she’s not sure their growing feelings for each other are enough to forgive the sins of the past and carve out a future…together.

Ben has a secret. A big one. The longer he’s in Shell Grove and surrounded by people who know his sordid history, the more likely that secret is going to come out. But if it does, Olivia will never speak to him again. Which will not do. Because he’s finally realized that Olivia is the reason why he came back to town in the first place. And if he doesn’t want to lose her forever, he needs to correct the mistakes he made a long time ago and prove he’s not the NEMESIS she’s always thought him to be.

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Ben was barely listening to the conversation around him since a familiar tingling sensation had started crawling up the back of his neck. It was the anticipation of getting eyes on Olivia, needing eyes on her. Making sure that no one was heckling her, that she was having a good time.

Oh, who are you bullshitting? You don’t want her having a good time with another guy.

It made him a bastard, but yeah. He honestly didn’t know what he would do if he saw her flirting with another man. Probably break something. Maybe whip out his cuffs and threaten to arrest some motherfuckers. Which was completely insane. He needed to bottle that shit up immediately before the crazy started to show on his face.

Something over Finn’s shoulder caught his attention, and Ben saw red.

He took it all back. There was a motherfucker that definitely needed arresting.

The one currently chatting up his girl.

Your girl? Since when, Benny?

Some douchebag wearing a blue button-up shirt with whales all over it was smiling at Olivia from ear-to-ear as they stood next to the food truck-turned-mobile tiki bar, Freaky Tiki. He didn’t recognize the guy, but he was openly flirting with the wrong woman.

“Be right back,” he bit out to his friends and took off storming across the sand.

He’d tried to control it. It wasn’t like they had agreed to be exclusive. They weren’t even dating, for Christ’s sake. But Ben acting on his jealousy toward Olivia had become a compulsion in a remarkably short period of time. Any man that showed the slightest interest in her, he wanted to pummel into the fucking ground. He knew it was selfish and irrational and completely unfair of him. But controlling that impulse—the impulse to do something and mark his territory—was as impossible as telling his dick to chill the fuck out every time it was in her presence.

He was closing in on them before he took stock of himself.

And oh, he really should have.

The county sheriff was barreling down on The Freaky Tiki like he was about to put somebody on their ass. People on the beach got out of his way and watched him with wide eyes, probably hoping they were about to catch something on their phones they could post on their socials. But he wasn’t going to get physical with the guy. Probably not. He was just going to intimidate the hell out of him until he put at least a good twenty feet between his body and Olivia’s.

Olivia caught sight of him approaching over Moby Dick’s shoulder, her face betraying her shock.

“Evening, Liv.”

Her companion jolted because yeah, Ben had snuck up right behind him and the guy hadn’t even noticed. Military training strikes again. It wasn’t like Moby Dick was a shrimp by any means, but Ben still had inches and pounds on him. In the physical sense, Ben didn’t feel threatened at all. But when another male started sniffing around Olivia…he saw everything as a fucking threat. A simple nod, an innocent smile. Any behavior that was targeted at her for the express purpose of showing sexual or romantic interest risked the possibility of Olivia nodding back at someone else. Of her smiling back at someone that wasn’t him. And oftentimes, smiling was a gateway to so much more.

“Hello, Sheriff.”

As casual a greeting as that was, her voice was anything but. The husky quality to her words belied an intimacy between them. A personal history.

He fucking loved hearing that.

She cleared her throat and yanked her gaze away. “Um. Colin, this is Sheriff Crawford.”

Moby Dick shrewdly inspected him for a few seconds before rising to his full height that was still an inch or two shorter than Ben’s. “Nice to meet you.”

When he stuck out his hand, Ben didn’t move to shake it. In fact, he didn’t address Dick at all.

To Olivia, he gritted out, “Could I have a word?”

Author Bio:

Melanie grew up in the Midwest, but she loves living in the Southeast (where the beaches are!) now with her husband and daughter.
Melanie's other passion is traveling and seeing the world. With anthropology degrees under their belts, she and her husband have made it their goal in life to see as many archaeological sites around the world as possible.
She has a horrible food addiction to pasta and candy (not together...ew). And she gets sad when her wine rack is empty.
At the end of the day, she is a true romantic at heart. She loves writing the cheesy and corny of romantic comedies, and the sassy and sexy of suspense. She aims to make her readers swoon, laugh out loud, maybe sweat a little, and above all, fall in love.
Go visit Melanie's website and sign up for her newsletter to stay updated on release dates, teasers, and other details for all of her projects!

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