Lives up to the promise

1. A

November Snow has seen her own burial a thousand times. It is the only thing she knows about her future.

In a war amongst vampires and fairies, a small advantage can mean the difference between victory and defeat. And a psychic who can peer across the globe, unspool the past, and probe the future is more than a small advantage. Everyone wants to use her for their own ends: the ancient king, the black sheep, the dutiful son, the lost boy.

But November Snow wants things, too, before death comes for her. She wants purpose. She wants friendship. She wants love. She wants happiness. She wants respect. And she will not settle for less.

Pulled into the midst of a royal family feud centuries in the making, she must forge her own path through violence, betrayal, first loves, and mortal peril as she struggles to come to terms with her gift and her destiny, even as she knows this for certain:

She dies at the end.

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BOOK REVIEW: She is going to die and she knows it. Genre aside, that right there is a powerful and intriguing story idea. No one has threatened her or anything. She has simply seen her own funeral. Brilliant. The big question to be answered here is laid out plainly in the title, and within a page or two of reading, we’re in. We’re going to need to know how and why she dies at the end…. So now we have a clear and simple yet powerfully intriguing question, but do we have a story journey to back it up? Definitely! The setting is a tangible paranormal world with interesting relationships between the different species and plenty of historic complexity. Certainly 3 dimensional. And the tale of who our heroine is and how and why she dies is rich and captivating storytelling…. For mine, this book is every bit as good as the title.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the universe…

1. A

Captain Aricka Badu left Taarken Prime twelve years ago for very good reasons, and she seldom goes back. It was supposed to be a short run, but, between the pirates, a brewing civil war and her ex, she may never get to leave.

Caden Carnes hadn’t seen Ari in twelve years, but he’d never stopped thinking about her. Given their past, it wasn’t exactly surprising she stayed away. What was surprising was seeing her back on Taarken…ever, the mining planet she’d abandoned along with her lover and her family.

Her brother’s mining hauler is missing and Caden asks for Ari’s assistance along with her ship to go find it. One discovery leads to another, until all their secrets are out. Caden and Ari don’t have long to discover the most important thing in the universe; You can actually go home again.

Available on Amazon

BOOK REVIEW: This sci-fi setting is like real. It’s actually quite brilliantly understated. When imagining the universe being depicted here, it’s as if there’s nothing to prove – as if it’s just a matter of fact that this place exists and we all know it. This is a powerful human drama and romance set elsewhere, not on Earth…. The depth in the story itself is also impressive. We can easily imagine the prequel, which would be potentially even more intense and dramatic. I quite enjoyed joining in at the tail end of a story, with lives already blown apart, and seeing everything come together…. An intelligent and nicely constructed read.

Brilliantly crafted Historical

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Available on Amazon

Set against the open skies and wild beauty of southwest England in 1430, The Heart of Darkness is a medieval mystery about one young woman’s quest to shed light on the dark secrets of her shire’s sheriff and help him hunt down the villains responsible for a spate of local kidnappings—before they strike again.

Her courage began to desert her under Sir Richard’s cold, questioning stare. ‘Good day, sir. I—I—am Rowena Walden, my uncle, Lord Cunningham, sent me,’ she managed to stammer. ‘He said that you—needed a clerk.’

When Lady Sabina spitefully volunteered her well-educated cousin Rowena as temporary personal clerk to Chaucy Shire’s sheriff, she could not refuse. An unmarried young woman with dead parents and nothing to her name has little choice. But Rowena dreads it. She has heard a lot about the darkly handsome knight: heartless, hot-tempered, impossible to please, just plain bad… As she meets Sir Richard’s cold, unnerving stare for the first time, the future does not look good.

However, Rowena is not the only one with a problem. Strangely, Rowena’s presence at Eaglestone Castle deeply disturbs Sir Richard, who appears determined to intimidate his terrifyingly cunning new clerk into quitting. Unfortunately for him, Rowena finds her new master as fascinating as he is frightening. His finances are over-stretched and highly irregular, and his murky past seems to conceal a dark and painful secret. His fury at the meddling of a lowly clerk whom he cannot sack because of her connections is intense, and his unexpected flashes of tenderness towards her only add to the confusion.

But with the local people growing increasingly angry at their sheriff’s failure to find three kidnapped girls, Sir Richard is forced to enlist Rowena’s help. Can this precarious pair catch the villains who have been carrying off Chaucy’s maidens before they strike again? And can Rowena get to the bottom of Sir Richard’s mysterious financial woes before he loses everything?

Then the stakes become higher than ever when the man whom Rowena thought she would never, could never, love challenges his greatest enemy to a fight to the death. Will he triumph, or will his life bleed away into the dust, and her heart with it?

Book review: This is superbly written. There are no shortage of authors who can take you to another time in history. This author transports you. The detail. The imagery. The attitudes. I was completely blown away reading this story. The depiction of a mood of honour and chivalry is so well done. Sir Richard the dark knight is completely human and real. Beyond the fabled fantasy character of a knight in shining black armour, he’s a true, flawed, earthy guy. I have no doubt he is a brilliant depiction of a man of medieval times. So too our heroine, Rowena – the damsel to be saved. The depiction of Rowena as a resourceful, intelligent woman gives some well-deserved oomph and dimension to the fabled damsel in distress. I like the way these two main characters are drawn so believably while being written into a plot that is everything the wonderful fables of knights and damsels offer… This story has adventure, mystery, truly gritty and meaningful romance, and it has a kick-arse climax. You have to catch the battle scene at the end! But make sure you treat yourself to an autumn in medieval Chaucy first. You’re going to feel like you live there.

Cool SciFi

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I like the Braxians. From the opening scenes of this story it’s easy to imagine them. An alien race enslaved by humans. It’s easy to get on board with their plight and cheer for them. The conflict here is the kind that immediately pulls you into the fictional universe depicted. What transpires from there is a pretty good thriller and an excellent romance. We are given plenty to satisfy the appetite in this fast paced, action packed episode, and where we end up feels like it’s just the beginning. Classic sci-fi romance with a good serve of intrigue.

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White Knuckle Thrillers

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BOOK REVIEW: It’s the contrast between the unrelenting, high octane suspense and the excruciatingly slow burn of romance. That’s what it is about this author’s writing. Of course you get that a lot in these kinds of books, but Sandra S. Kerns does it so well. The crime here is complicated and deeply woven through the cast of characters. This is a damned fine police story. The action starts with the witness to a murder unconscious in an ER, our hero by his side, our heroine nursing them both. Unravelling what happened is a great read… The romance is between a strong, positive, yet damaged, woman and a tough, gritty man who is all heart and impatience. Expertly drawn, these two have you feeling that slow burn and living it with them. I was particularly pleased with how things came together at the end – the way the hero took charge… Excellent romantic mystery/thriller.

TDC

BOOK REVIEW: Frigging hell, this doesn’t let up. Heart pounding, nail biting… if you’re looking for a relaxing read – this ain’t it! This is masterly suspense and a great thriller. You want to climb into the book and help out the goodies – save them from the relentless bad guys, whoever they are. It’s not clear exactly who to fear until the end. The who-done-it is brilliant. Get comfy because you won’t be putting this book down, although you’re likely going to be pacing the room while you read rather than relaxing in a chair… Excellent. Top marks.

Romance real and powerful

RR

BOOK REVIEW: Slow burn with plenty of heat…This is one of the better romances of this kind I have read. It’s a letdown when the hero is a shallow playboy type and the heroine allows her attraction to him to overpower her better judgement. The mix here has the heroine not being overpowered at all. Maggie is a terrific character – her strength not wavering until the final scene, and even then we have to wonder who it was that lost control and succumbed to the attraction – or indeed whether they both did. There is a depth of honesty and realism in these characters that handles the tryst between the powerful bad boy and intrepid good girl way better than some bestselling books of late…. This is a fast read but not a quick fix story. It’s sexy and highly entertaining.

GG

BOOK REVIEW: Compelling characters…This is simple little love story with a hell of a lot going for it. It’s simple in plot but the setting and characters are gripping, raw and powerful. The dialogue is tremendous. The moment Artie opens his mouth we can see him. The way he contrasts with the guy he falls for – the way their differences so realistically complement each other is what creates the power in this story. That and the depiction of life and death on the Bering Sea in winter – another brilliant contrast with the warmth and tenderness of new love. Couple this with hot sex scenes and a smart twist at the end… A top read.

Novels & Novellas by G.S. Bailey, edited by Sher Chambers (BEd)

White Knuckle Thrillers

Book review

It’s the contrast between the unrelenting, high octane suspense and the excruciatingly slow burn of romance. That’s what it is about this author’s writing. Of course you get that a lot in these kinds of books, but Sandra S. Kerns does it so well. The crime here is complicated and deeply woven through the cast of characters. This is a damned fine police story. The action starts with the witness to a murder unconscious in an ER, our hero by his side, our heroine nursing them both. Unravelling what happened is a great read… The romance is between a strong, positive, yet damaged, woman and a tough, gritty man who is all heart and impatience. Expertly drawn, these two have you feeling that slow burn and living it with them. I was particularly pleased with how things came together at the end – the way the hero took charge… Excellent romantic mystery/thriller.

Book review

Frigging hell, this doesn’t let up. Heart pounding, nail biting… if you’re looking for a relaxing read – this ain’t it! This is masterly suspense and a great thriller. You want to climb into the book and help out the goodies – save them from the relentless bad guys, whoever they are. It’s not clear exactly who to fear until the end. The who-done-it is brilliant. Get comfy because you won’t be putting this book down, although you’re likely going to be pacing the room while you read rather than relaxing in a chair… Excellent. Top marks.

Aussie Romantic Thriller

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Kangaroo review 1

Chapter 1

 Blake Malone’s house was right over the road from The Ascot bar. On the corner of James and Pendington, it was a place he frequented almost as often as his house. It was Saturday night, just after eleven, he was leaning on the bar looking over his half full beer glass at three women sitting at a table. The blond one glanced and returned his smile. It wasn’t the first time she had done it. She shook her head, giggling and blushing as her eyes rolled away.

Blake had a permanent smile. At twenty-eight he easily passed for a 35-year-old, due to his laugh lines and a smattering of grey in his short dark hair. But his smile had a boyish quality. It was game in the face of adversity and cheeky on a Saturday night out hunting skirt.

He didn’t know the blond, had never seen her before. He had slept with both of her girlfriends separately, on just one occasion about a year apart. He wondered whether they had conferred with one another on the matter. They each glanced his way a few times and may well have referred to him in their discussion. There was a dance floor and music. He was seated too far away to hear what they were talking about.

Blake’s phone buzzed, a text from his boss. He read it and put the phone back in his pants pocket.

Checking the girls again, he saw Jolene take Elle by the hand and lead her to the dance floor. It was the first time in the half hour the blond had been left alone. He took his beer and strolled over, her gaze flashing past him then returning to meet his. Her smile lit up.

“I’m Blake. How ya going?”

“Fine, thanks.”

Blake cocked an ear questioningly.

The woman’s blush deepened. “Lisa.”

“Hey, Lisa. I’ve been trying not to stare. Sorry.”

“That’s okay. Stare all you want.”

Blake leaned on the back of a chair. “I’ve actually gotta go but didn’t want to leave without saying hi. I noticed you smile a few times. Maybe if I see you here again we could have a drink?”

She frowned. “Oh. You have to go?”

“I do, well, in a minute, anyway. How do you know Jolene and Elle, from work?”

“Yeah. I just started this week. We’re having a get-to-know-each-other night.” Lisa tilted her head, her eyebrows rising. “They called you a shark.”

“Who, me?” Blake chuckled, feigning innocence. “They must have me confused.”

“No, I don’t think so. You look kind of sharky.”

Blake looked down at himself, arms spread. He wasn’t properly dressed for a Saturday night out, cargo pants and a t-shirt. His hair was ruffled and he hadn’t shaved that morning. He looked back up, grinning. “How’s this sharky? I’ve got nothing on all the other guys here, fine cut and slick looking. I just stopped in for a beer before bedtime.”

“Bedtime? Really?”

“Yeah, I’ve gotta work in the morning, a Sunday ‘n’ all, conscientious as I am.”

“Your work isn’t even open on Sundays.”

“How do you know where I work, Lisa?” Blake edged onto a seat. “Do you mind, just for a minute?”

“That’s fine. They told me where you work. We were just talking about you.”

“Aahh, all good, I bet.”

“That’s hard to say. The difference isn’t always clear.”

Blake nodded. “I agree.” He had a sip of beer. “So, you’re in accounts as well? Is Jolene still working on her law course, she going ok with it?”

Lisa smiled a little with a blush. “She just finished.”

“Cool. And Elle, did she ever break away from that dickhead ex? I remember she said he was hassling her online. I hope she had him dealt with.”

“I don’t know. She hasn’t said anything.”

“Well, that was six months ago. Hopefully all sorted,” Blake said.

“Yeah, but you remember. They said you um, well, that you weren’t exactly a good listener.”

“Jolene has a brother, Parker, and sister…” Blake clicked his fingers, thinking. “Mary! And Mary was pregnant and pissed off with her husband about his gambling. Elle is from down south, a small town near Tamworth. She moved here to Brisbane when she was twelve. Her parents divorced not long after, and she hasn’t seen her dad since. As I recall, those were the main things going on a while ago. But what about you, Lisa? Did you grow up here in Brisbane?”

“Yeah, pretty much, the north side.”

“Cool. A local girl. Local boy,” Blake said, tipping his beer in salute. She met his smile. He looked left and right. “It seems local girls are usually the prettiest around here.”

She blushed. “Thanks, Sharky.”

Blake chuckled. Elle returned and sat beside him. “Hey, Blake.”

“Hey, Elle, how’s it going?”

“Fine. What are you doing, trying to chat up Lisa, are you?”

“I was but wasn’t getting anywhere, unfortunately. Someone tipped her off.”

“What’s he want?” Jolene asked. “That’s my chair!”

Blake leaned back, smiling up. “Sorry. I just saw you left poor Lisa sitting here all alone and thought I should offer to keep her company until you got back.”

Jolene scoffed. “Yeah, right. That’s okay, don’t get up.” She slipped onto Blake’s lap.

“He doesn’t seem so bad,” Lisa said.

“Huh! Of course he doesn’t seem bad.” Jolene squeezed his cheeks. “He seems like a nice guy. Don’t you, Mr Slick?”

“But I’m not—” Blake started.

He was cut off by Elle. “Yes, he seems all sweet and innocent, but he has a lair.”

“A lair?” Blake looked from one smiling face to another. “Sharks don’t have lairs, do they?”

They all laughed at him.

“Alright, that’s it, I’m not gonna sit around here being insulted.”

“Aaw, poor Blakey,” Jolene cooed, squeezing his cheeks again as he slipped from beneath her.

“You ladies have a nice night, Good to see you again, Jolene, Elle, looking fine. Hope you got rid of your stalker. Lisa, lovely to meet you.” Blake offered his hand. When she accepted it he lifted hers and kissed it. “Truly lovely,” he added, holding her eyes as she blushed.

“Oh my god!” Jolene cried.

Elle was mouth agape, shaking her head.

Blake bowed to them and departed, resisting a glance back as he left the bar.

He crossed the street and entered his building. He was on the fifteenth floor. The elevator was waiting. Aside from the message from his boss to show up at work in the morning, he was quite tired and not up for a lady visitor, anyway.

He stripped off and had a quick shower. It was a balmy late spring evening. He poured a dash of Cognac and took it out onto his balcony overlooking the city. He rocked back in his favourite chair and spread his toes on the cool chrome rail, the sounds of traffic and voices of people filling the air with a familiar buzz that was relaxing to Blake.

He turned on his phone and scrolled back through his texts. He didn’t have a number for either Jolene or Elle but eventually found an old text from Elle. He smiled to himself and typed: u girls r hot… He pressed send and turned off his phone, rocking back again with his Cognac.

*

The next morning, a little after ten, Blake strolled into his work building three blocks away. The executive offices of The Brisbane Mail were all but empty. He found his boss at her desk talking on a headset. She waved for him to sit.

Blake took out his phone and checked for emails. He wondered how Sandy was going. Sandy was a brunette he had seen a few times lately, nothing serious, but he was feeling rested now and up for some fun on his day off.

His boss put her headset aside. “Morning, Blake. Thanks for coming in.”

“That’s alright, Amanda. What’s up?”

Amanda Stone was a career news magazine editor. She had a narrow face and hard features. She ruffled her long red hair, it was sweaty. She wore a white tennis uniform. After fixing her curls in a band, she leaned down to a bag on the floor and pulled out an envelope. She tossed it across the desk to Blake.

He used his smile. “What, am I fired?”

“You wish, or you will shortly.”

Blake extracted a folded page from the envelope. It was faintly ruled notebook paper. The writing was by hand: Who is buried on Warburton Station?

He looked to his boss. “I give up, who?”

She rested back in her chair and folded her arms. “About twenty years ago, I did a story about the murder of a woman from Warburton Station. Have you heard of Clive Petrov?”

Blake thought for a moment. “I remember reading something about him, something recent.”

“Yes, there has been a body found down the south coast somewhere, linked to him. There’s a task force looking into the guy right now.”

“Okay…” Blake held up the note. “So, where did you get this?”

“I found it in my post box yesterday. There’s no post mark. Looks like it was hand delivered.”

Blake checked the envelope. “So, twenty years ago you did a story, now you get a note. What’s it mean?”

“I don’t know. I’ve not had reason to think about the case since the story was published. It was left open, a strangled nurse and an unknown perpetrator. It’s only this recent information that has linked Petrov. I suspected him at the time but there was no proof. I never actually mentioned him in the story, just in my notes, which I can’t find now. I searched half the night. You’ll have to start from scratch, Blake.”

“I will? Me?”

“Yes, you. Consider yourself assigned. Here are the keys to the new Jeep.” Amanda slid them across the desk.

Blake caught them. He chuckled. “Cool. I like the Jeep.” He twirled the keys. “Where am I going, boss? What’s this, a railway station somewhere? Warburton. Where’s that?”

Amanda Stone smiled, her lined face smoothing somewhat as her eyes sparkled with mirth. “No, playboy, Warburton is no railway station. It’s an outback cattle station. Waaaay outback,” she said with a sweep of her arms. “Better pack your big suitcase and a sandwich.”

“Oh, shit!”

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Flawed characters – great drama…

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BOOK REVIEW: Julia’s life is not extraordinary, but it is fascinating. She steps off a plane, returning from an unplanned trip away, and is faced with a whole bunch of problems that have sprung up in her absence. It’s a scene easily related to – everything falling apart at the same time. Everyone who has lived a bit of a life has experienced this… What are the decisions and incidents that shaped your life and brought you to that point? Well, in this story, Julia is a flawed character. Reading through the chapters of her life, there were times I didn’t particularly like her. But she is human – brilliantly depicted as such. And I found myself cheering for her in the end. The real heroine in this story, to me, is her best friend. Raz is mysterious… strong. We don’t spend much time inside her head, but that adds to the story, lending a depth of dimension that exist in all of our lives… This is a captivating read. Authentic.

Preview The Secrets of Julia Hawke on Amazon

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BOOK REVIEW: Actually, I’ve been to the beach house, metaphorically. Any place with important personal history is the beach house. It’s horrible when you drive past somewhere you remember fondly from some life event years ago and find it’s been re-developed. It’s gone… This is a wonderfully uplifting read. The many stories, brilliantly intertwined, are so real and inspiring… If you’re an Aussie you will probably like this book. If you’re not an Aussie you will probably like this book.

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icws

 

BOOK REVIEW: True to life characters and an outback Aussie road trip… this is a touching and shocking human drama, the telling of which begins in turmoil and takes us on two journeys. One is the road trip – onward into discovery and hurt. The other is a series of flashbacks that lead us to our starting point and an expertly crafted reveal. Wonderfully written – mesmerizing… this is a terrific novel.

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Little bit creepy, seriously freaky…

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BOOK REVIEW: This is the kind of story that sort of lulls you into a bit of a comfort zone with a normal enough opening few chapters, then suddenly things get freaky. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of this scene – getting to know Tony Logan so well as a regular guy going through some midlife s*** that isn’t hard to relate to. And the off-handed way the ‘photograph’ was thought of and mentioned several times before we got a look at it. Well, I liked that too. It was a good build up to the normality of the story suddenly being blown apart…. What then follows is a gripping supernatural thriller with a kick-arse twist at the end. The upshot being that Tony Logan might have been far better off to have never seen that photograph.

Preview The Photograph on Amazon

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BOOK REVIEW: These are gritty tales with a touch of irreverence – a dash of humour. Awesome detail in constructing both the setting and characters. This is what gives it the classic feel for me. It’s like one of those old late night scary movies that has you so involved that you’re clawing the armrest of your lounge. I think the pacing adds to that too. There’s some real suspense here – the creepy kind. And a great cast of characters! Everything works from the seriously gruesome to the mildly quirky…. Did I read something in the intro about screenplays as the original idea? Definite late night movie fodder – good follow-on viewing after The Twilight Zone has set the mood.

Preview The Clayton Chronicles on Amazon

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BOOK REVIEW: The slow reveal of what the heroine, Laura, actually is was fascinating. The story provided an interesting take on age and maturity – the history of the centuries old characters. The play on Laura’s vulnerability amongst the vampires and the relationships between feeding couples was good reading. Things escalate into a steamy romance and big action climax. This book has a smart ending. I liked it.

Preview Blood Gifted on Amazon