To Liz Kreger with Love

Liz KregerLiz Kreger, our good friend and fellow Magical Musings author, passed away last Thursday morning, but it’s hard to write this in the past tense. She was so vibrantly alive, not a cancer victim but a cancer warrior. In all the years I knew her, she rarely complained, and when she did, it was with humor. In my mind, I see her with a smile, talking about her daughter, her ‘little darlin’—and still wanting to go over her manuscript for one last revision. Despite her long battle with cancer, she was happier than many healthy people I know. She didn’t focus on the bad stuff; she focused on living and the many people she loved.

Critique group 2007 DallasIt seems like it’s been longer, but I met Liz about thirteen years ago at a Milwaukee WisRWA meeting. We quickly became friends, and not because we discovered that we both had had a mastectomy, but we just clicked – though I think that anyone would click with Liz. She shone so brightly even then. I admired her writing, and when there was an opening in the online critique group that I belonged to, I invited her to join us. There were eight of us: Allison Brennan, Maya Banks, Amy Knupp, Janette Kenny, Karin Tabke, Michelle Diener and me. None of us wrote in the same genre, and it didn’t matter.

During this time, Liz’s cancer would return, and she’d have chemo and/or radiation, and then it would go away. For awhile, at least. She didn’t let it stop her. She didn’t give up hope. Even when the doctors finally told her a short time ago that there was nothing they could do, she didn’t want to stop. She told her sister Margie, “If I’m going, I’m going out fighting.”

I saw her two days before she finally did pass, and I said, “When you see God, he’s got a lot of explaining to do.” She laughed. I’m glad that I have the memory of her laughing.

Liz was an inspiration on how to live. She will be missed, yet she’s still alive in the hearts of the many people who loved her. Including me.

Edie

Liz NYC at Roxanne's Diner Aug 2011 smallLiz joined Edie, Karin Tabke and I in our critique group when one of our members left. We had a wonderful email loop of eight, with two groups of four, and some swopping around and overlap when needed. That was the first memories I have of Liz. Her work, and my discussions with her about it. Her commenting on my work, or our talking and sharing as a group. We didn’t restrict ourselves to talking about writing, we talked about our lives, and we became incredibly good friends.

It was amazing to meet Edie, Karin and Liz for the first time. I remember arriving at the airport in Dallas a few days ahead of the RWA conference and we went off and spent a couple of days at a bed and breakfast, and just talked and talked and talked.

Liz, as Edie said, was a woman who faced everything with a smile, a hefty dose of humour and a massive capacity for friendship and love. I will miss her so much. I was able to call and speak to her while she was in the hospital a few weeks before she passed away, and I love that while she was lying there, a couple of days after a major operation, she and I were talking about her coming to visit me in Australia. That was Liz, positive and making plans right to the end.

Some people leave a huge hole when they leave us, because they shone with such a bright light. Liz was one of those people, and I am honoured to have known her and called her my friend.

Michelle

Posted in Edie's Posts, Liz's Posts, Michelle's Posts | 18 Comments

Thanksgiving Favorites

Next week is Thanksgiving for those that live in the US. It tends to be a holiday where we think a lot about food. I do think social media has helped with reminding us to be thankful for many things we take for granted and I enjoy reading all my friends’ posts on Facebook for what they are thankful for. I am thankful for all of you and for the opportunity to be a part of Magical Musings. I wouldn’t be doing what I do today if Michelle had not put a call out for reviewers for the blog and offered me the amazing opportunity.

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Source: http://www.vandergrifftoyota.com/

Today, though, I want to talk food. What is your favorite food dish that you eat on Thanksgiving? For those that do not celebrate this holiday, what is your favorite food dish that you eat over another holiday?  Extra credit if you link to the recipe online somewhere or share it in the comments!

My favorites would probably be the scalloped corn and pumpkin pie! Oh, and the cranberries. And stuffing. And rolls. And this awesome frozen fruit salad my mom always makes. Looks like I can’t pick a favorite!

Posted in Amy R's Posts | 10 Comments

Meeting Readers

photo credit: saaste via photopin cc

photo credit: saaste via photopin cc

Tonight (I’m 14 hours ahead of the States, so my night, your early morning :)) I gave a talk at the Koorliny Arts Centre in Perth, Australia. It was a great evening and the audience asked some really great questions.

I love it when I can engage with interested readers, I think most authors do. We love talking about books, but we’re always a little scared we’re boring the pants off everyone because we get so carried away about it, but when readers respond with the same enthusiasm, it’s wonderful.

I’ve been to a couple of writer talks myself as a reader, and I’ve always enjoyed them, even if I haven’t managed to speak to the writer personally afterward. I’m interested, have you ever been to a writer talk, and did you enjoy it?

Posted in Michelle's Posts | 5 Comments

Thoughts on Writing…and Coffee

People ask all the time, “where do you get your inspiration?” I give them the standard speech about being inspired by rainbows, puppy dogs, my husband, and life in general. My real answer should be…”Coffee.”

Others ask, “how do you write so fast?” I tell them about schedules and to-do lists and being organized. The real answer? Coffee.

“What’s your favorite thing about writing?”

Coffee.

“What’s the one thing you can’t do without?”

Coffee.

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I’m really not a coffee addict <cough, cough> but it’s my one vice in life. I’m inspired by many things, and I enjoy them more with an espresso. I write fast and have lots of ideas because I’m hopped up on caffeine most of the day.

Okay, so my favorite thing about writing isn’t necessarily coffee. It’s entertaining my readers, but, swear to God, I would be far less entertaining if I didn’t have my daily cuppa joe.

And I couldn’t be a successful writer without my laptop, my wonderful assistant Amy, support from my family and friends. I couldn’t do without any of them. Or my dogs. Or my bookshelf of books that inspire and motivate me.

But in the end, don’t mess with my coffee. I’m a writer. I NEED my coffee.

Luckily for me, my husband is roasting beans and selling coffee again. I get to taste test everything he makes. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. :) He’s concentrating on organic, free-trade beans, and can do any kind of roast. Now I have my own personal source for the dark roast I love so much and I can have all of it that I want! Mwahahaha…

Yes, he’s totally enabling me, but isn’t that what best friends are for?

Which reminds me, it’s time for my daily pour-over.

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Now that I’m well caffeinated, I better go write!

Readers, what’s your addiction? Books? TV? Ryan Gosling?

Posted in Misty's Posts | Tagged , | 13 Comments

No Rules

Broken-Protocols-1-3-R0.2-200x300Lately, more authors have been writing serials – books with the same characters that don’t have an ending in the first book, or the second or the third. In fact, it might take seven books or more before the serial ends. I belong to a writers’ group that has been discussing this, and someone asked about the lengths and what was expected and what we should charge for each book in the serial.

I’m writing a serial now, so although I already had an idea of the approximate lengths of my books, I paid attention to the posts. As it turned out, every time someone said how long she thought one should be – and how much it should cost – someone else would reply that it didn’t have to be that way. One of the authors said she didn’t even write a hook at the end of each book. She just wrote an entire book and split it into three.

That’s not what I’m planning to do – each of mine will end with a hook. But it works for her, so good for her!

jingleOne of the authors on the group, who is also traditionally published, said that what she loves most about self-publishing is that there are no rules. Before self-publishing, if you tried to sell a serial romance with a continuous arc of one couple, it couldn’t be done. And now you can do it if you want. You can do anything. And if it’s good, readers will buy it.

My serial will have a mystery element as well as the romance, but I understand what she means. I think in New Adult books, especially, there are serials with continuing relationships. I haven’t read a straight romance serial, but I have read straight romances in series, with new main characters in each book, and I do like hearing about couples from previous books. It makes the books seem more real, and I enjoy seeing what they’re doing now.

I think if I had bought a first book in a serial romance involving one couple, and I didn’t know before I read it that there was not going to be a resolve, I would not be happy. If I knew and still chose to read it, then I would be okay with it. What about you? And do you think a hook is necessary? And do you think serials work better if they have a mystery or a scifi element? What are your thoughts?

Posted in Edie's Posts | 12 Comments

I know it’s a little early, but…. :)

Then again, it’s never too early for a Christmas story! And Charmin Marvin, delivers. Of course, you have to like a snarky walking talking feline with more attitude than most people. He’s a secondary character (and he’d take my head off for the diss) in all the Broken Protocols books. At least I named the series after him – Charmin Marvin Novella Series.

Broken Protocols 3.5 is my contribution to Romancing Christmas! This anthology is chock full of heartwarming stories to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Do you like your Christmas naughty or nice? Bring the season into your heart with love stories to match your mood. This boxed set from 10 of today’s hottest romance authors will warm your heart even on the coldest night.

RomancingChristmasEbook_smallBroken Protocols 3.5 by Dale Mayer, USA Today Bestselling Author

Dani and Charmin, her talking cat, were brought 200 years into the future to a world without Christmas. Nostalgic for holiday cheer, Dani yearns to celebrate, and Levi, her hunky future lover is just the guy to make it happen. How can he create Christmas in a world that no longer knows what a holiday is?

Shades of Holly by H. D. Thomson 

Murder with Mistletoe.
Enter Zach Howard, a man who’s finally managed to get his life on track this holiday season, until that is, he comes across a pair of otherworldly sunglasses. They reveal scenes of a terrifying future. Holly, the one woman he’s never stopped loving, is in danger of a psychopath. Zach’s determined to fight for Holly, even at the risk of his own life. Do Christmas miracles and angels still exist?
Season For Love by Chantel Rhondeau
The specter of death tempered by beautiful miracles is all in a day’s work for head nurse Tess Riggs and pediatric specialist Dr. Dash Brisson. But discovering Christmas is the season for love could be their biggest challenge yet.
Christmas Hope (2013 Golden Heart finalist) by Leslie Lynch 
Sam Bledsoe can barely keep food on the table, as well as his badly scarred face away from curious eyes. Free spirit Becca Sweet is pregnant–and down on her luck. With Christmas and a storm on the way, living in her car is no longer an option. Sam comes to Becca’s rescue, but will hope lead to love, the most precious Christmas gift of all?

A Christmas Miracle (a 2014 Carolyn Reader’s Choice winner) by Sandy Loyd
Megan Jenkins isn’t looking forward to Christmas, a holiday that reminds her of what she had and lost, a husband who died right after Christmas, leaving her with a fatherless son to raise. On Christmas Eve, Megan experiences her own Christmas Miracle as she learns the true meaning of giving with the help of Kevin Murdock, a long-time friend who’s always been there for her.

The Salty Carmel Christmas by Barbara Lohr
Nothing ever changes for Rachel Morgan in Paris, Indiana. But when she returns home for Christmas, a kiss from a soft-spoken guy with killer blue eyes makes her take a second look. Sometimes life can be like a salty Christmas carmel–sweet but with a tang you remember. Sometimes the boy you leave behind is the man you want forever.
Heating Up the Holidays by Marcia James
When Chris Spencer returns home with his daughter, he’s not looking for a second chance with his first love. And the last thing Nicky Paxton needs at Christmas time is her high school heart-breaker. But thanks to a hairless dog and a lonely child, they might get their Christmas desires.
Insanity Claus by Carolyn Hughey
A widow of two years, Mallory Gardner is struggling to keep her business alive and her dysfunctional family together. Having two daughters, one who blames Mallory for her father’s death is enough to test anyone’s sanity. But when Arden J. Miller waltzes into town, he has other ideas–like capturing Mallory’s heart. Will the holiday spirit sweep Mallory away and solve the unsolvable?
A Family for Christmas by Tallulah Grace
Erin Matthews returns home to find closure, but she soon discovers truths that change her life forever. Luke Simmons never expected to meet a woman who sparks fire in his soul, even as his heart is breaking. Together, they find healing, and the true spirit of Christmas, in the love of a patchwork family.
A Father for Christmas by Rachelle Ayala
Single mother Kelly Kennedy can’t afford lavish gifts for her four-year-old daughter, Bree. Homeless veteran Tyler Manning doesn’t believe he deserves a Merry Christmas. When Bree asks Santa for a father and picks Tyler, both Tyler and Kelly must believe in the power of love to give Bree her best Christmas ever.

Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iTunes

With the release of Romancing Christmas, I released Broken Protocols 3.5 on it’s own.  Charmin insisted!

Broken Protocols 3.5 R0.3

 

Broken Protocols 3.5 is available everywhere! Amazon, Barnes and Noble, itunes.

Are you ready to have some Christmas spirit? It’s only 6 weeks away – and counting. :)

Posted in Dale's Posts | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Special guest Melanie Atkins, Author and Castle Fan Girl

I’m pleased to have Melanie Atkins as my guest today. Melanie is a top selling romantic suspense author at Desert Breeze Publishing, and she’s also branching off into her own. I’m so excited for her! Not only that, she and I share a love of the Castle TV show, and I’ve enjoyed reading her take on the episodes. So here’s Melanie to tell you about it! 

Melanie_AtkinsMonday was a special day for me. I published a backlist book at Amazon, and Castle and Beckett finally got married. A friend who knows about my obsession with Castle asked me which made me happier, and I replied, “The Caskett wedding, of course. I’ve had a lot of book releases. They’ll only have one wedding.”

I do adore the show. Another friend of mine, Lee Lofland, the force behind the Writers’ Police Academy and the author of the Howdunit Book of Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers and the Graveyard Shift blog, another fabulous resource for folks researching police procedure, also liked it. So much so, he began reviewing the show’s police procedure to appease writer friends who kept asking him if the show’s writers had “gotten it right”.

After a season or so, once the romance between Castle and Beckett caught fire, he apparently felt out of his depth when appraising that part of the show. We talked about Castle at that year’s Writers’ Police Academy (I’ve been every year), and out of the blue, after I got home, he emailed me and asked me to critique the romance while he reviewed on the police procedure. I got excited over the episodes more often than he did, and our “Good Cop/Bad Cop” reviews were born. We’ve had a blast with it ever since. You can check out our latest blog here: http://bit.ly/TYDUM5

CastekkI’ve been hooked on shows before, always ones filled with romance, such as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman back in the 90s, but in my opinion, Castle is the first show that has truly done it right… albeit with a few recent faltering steps fans could’ve done without (i.e. the failed wedding at the end of last season and Rick’s two month absence and amnesia. Please.) Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller are the husband and wife team behind the show, and the main reason for its success. They’ve said in the past that they set out to write “a great romance” ,and they’ve done a bang-up job of it… all the while ignoring nay-sayers who claimed the “Moonlighting curse” would tank the show if Castle and Beckett ever got together.

Did not happen. If anything, their close bond has made the show better. I’m even more excited now that they’ve tied the knot. Can’t wait for more romance, hi-jinks, and crime solving, with maybe even a baby thrown in. Great TV inspires me to write better stories.

Of course, I was also excited about my latest release, Flash Bang, a romantic suspense/FBI story set in the fictional town of Magnolia Springs, Mississippi. It’s available at Amazon right now for the low, low price of only .99!

MelanieAtkins_FlashBangWhen Allie Robbins broke his heart, Noah Sterling couldn’t leave Magnolia Springs fast enough. He joined the military, then the FBI. Ten years later, a domestic terrorism case forces him to return, only to discover that Allie is now a widowed mother with one young son–and that she’s suspected of aiding the group responsible for setting area churches ablaze.

Allie can’t believe her eyes. Noah is back in Magnolia Springs, and he’s asking questions. She’s not worried about the investigation, because she’s innocent. But she’s willing to do anything to keep him from asking the one question that could destroy her life–a question about her son. Then the boy is kidnapped, and she must reveal the truth in order to save him by turning to the one man she can trust–and the only one who can take her son away. Noah. His father.

Buy link:  Amazon | Amazon UK

Hope you’ll check it out! It’s one of my favorites of all the books I’ve written. 

Melanie Atkins
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PROTECTING HER HEART — Available now from Desert Breeze Publishing!
CODE OF VENGEANCE — Available now from Desert Breeze Publishing!
AGAINST ALL ODDS — Available now from Desert Breeze Publishing!

Posted in Edie's Posts, Guest Posts | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Hero–In or Out of the Shadows? + Ginormous Giveaway

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photo credit: dezindzer via photopin cc

Happy Monday! Thanks to everyone for commenting. I <3 you all–and to show it, I’m offering a free copy of Black Diamond Jinn through Smashwords. Just email me for a code. The winner of the Ginormous ebook pack is Donna S–congrats! I’ll be emailing you at the address you indicated. Thanks again to everyone for visiting!

Who’s your favorite book hero? Got him in your mind? Good. Now, what do you like about him? Is he honest, kind, caring? Brave, handsome, daring? Polite or a little rough?

Big question–would you put him in a white hat or black hat?

Do heroes always have to be good guys? I’m currently watching season one of The Blacklist, and so far, while the main hero does some pretty unnerving things, he has one redeeming quality–he always protects the heroine.

ABeyesYesterday saw the release of Assassins Bite, the eighth book in my Biting Love series of red-hot vampire romances with action and sass. It’s a book I never meant to write, but my editor loved a secondary character, an assassin named Aiden, so much that she suggested–okay, twisted my arm a bit–that he have his own book.

The problem? Aiden Blackthorne was trained as an assassin by the most notorious vampire in the Midwest. He has one friend in the world and a whole lot of enemies. But he is brave, handsome, daring and kind, and most of all–he protects the heroine above all things.

Well, he tries. Police officer Sunny Ruffles doesn’t think she needs protecting. But that’s another story ;)

What about you? What do you like most about the hero you picked? And if you dare–is he sunshine or shadows? Comment below to be entered in a giveaway for a ginormous prize pack of Paranormally Yours, Entranced, 3 ebooks from my backlist (not including Assassins Bite) and any one ebook from a Magical Musings author. That’s 21 stories! Through Sunday. Leave your email in the comment (put spaces in to foil the bots :) ) if you’d like me to contact you directly if you win.

Check out my Facebook party! Nov 12 & 13. Over $100 worth of prizes.

AssassinsBite3x4.5_mediumAssassins Bite (Biting Love, Book 8)
Only her light can burn away his shadows.

AmazonB&NSH

On her first night as a police officer, Sunny Ruffles takes down three felons…only to be attacked by a gang of vampires who are a whole new level of hurt.

Then a mysterious shadow man intervenes, saving Sunny before he disappears. She runs after him, telling herself her pursuit has nothing to do with his sharp, stubbled jaw, his powerful shoulders, or his sexy-as-hell, kissable lips.

Rescuing the humans makes Aiden Blackthorne late for a critical meeting with the vampire Nosferatu’s daughter. Yet clompy, bumbling Sunny draws him back like wild honey. He kisses her, and he’s almost got her down to her underwear when a bomb meant for him explodes.

The last thing Aiden wants is to drag Sunny into his hellish conflict with Nosferatu. But Aiden’s a loner whose only friend has mysteriously disappeared, and the woman who smells and tastes like his mate is the only backup he has left. He’ll need her, everything he is, everything he was—and everything he might have been—to defeat his evil master and claim the love he never dared hope to have.

Warning: This book contains shadowy assassins shooping off vampire heads, cops bumbling in at the worst of times, and opposites attracting, colliding, and exploding in lust—a.k.a., explicit fighting, humor, and sex.

AmazonB&NSHkigaukbuk

Posted in Mary's Posts | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Giving Thanks

th-1Happy November! With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to take today to say Thank You. Thank you to my Magical Musings sisters for inspiring me and motivating me and having me as part of their family.

Thank you to all my author pals for their friendship and their books. Reading has become such a vital part of my life (confession – I was never much of a reader until I started writing) and I’m so grateful for all the wonderful novels I’ve read. I have to give a shout out to the book I just finished because it was so, so great. I absolutely loved it. If you like NA, I highly recommend This Is Falling by Ginger Scott. I don’t know Ginger, but I’m now a huge fan and plan to read all her books.

Thank you to my readers. It’s still crazy for me to think I have readers that aren’t related to me. But you’re all part of my family now and I’m so blessed to have you on this journey with me. *hugs!*

Thank you to Wendy, Stacy and Holly, my amazing editors. Thank you to Liz, Melanie, Debbie, Alycia, Adrien, and the entire gang at Entangled for making my dream of being published a reality. Thanks to all my day job peeps, too.

And thank you to my hubby, sons, and mom for being the wind beneath my wings.

Last week was a tough one for me, but thinking about all I have to be thankful for, I’m reminded to stay focused on the positive and the people who really matter. I also remember how much a smile and a laugh can go a long way to feeling good. So here are a few Turkey Day jokes that I hope bring a smile to your face. I maybe laughed out loud at a couple of them. I’m an easy mark.

Who’s not hungry at Thanksgiving?
The turkey because he’s already stuffed!

What sound does turkey’s phone make?
Wing! Wing!

What do you call it when you drop a turkey from a helicopter?
Dead weight.

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Yes – a building can’t jump at all.

How can you make a turkey float?
You need 2 scoops of ice cream, some root beer, and a turkey.

Lastly, I want to say Happy Veterans Day and give my heartfelt thanks to the men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces. Thank you!

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I’d love to know what you’re thankful for. (It’s totally okay to say cookies. I forgot to mention that.)

Posted in Robin's Posts | 10 Comments

Review: Into the Shadows by Carolyn Crane

22674054Book info:

Title: Into The Shadows
Author: Carolyn Crane
Release Date: July 14, 2014
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Purchased from Amazon

Book Summary:

HE’S A KILLER.

Thorne McKelvey knows exactly how Nadia sees him—as a brute and a killer just kinky enough to play her sexy games. And that’s how it has to stay. Leaving her was the hardest thing he ever did, but his undercover mission could blow up at any second. No way will he drag Nadia down with him.

SHE CAN’T RISK HER HEART.

Maybe it was foolish to fall in love with her late father’s deadliest henchman, but Nadia Volkov’s not sorry; without Thorne she wouldn’t have their beautiful little boy. There’s nothing she won’t do to protect Benny, which means she must hide his identity—especially from his father.

Now Thorne has burst back into her home, searching for clues to a gangland mystery…and stirring a hunger Nadia hasn’t felt in two years. But Benny’s identity isn’t the only secret she’s keeping, and things are turning deadly. Can Thorne and Nadia trust each other long enough to stay alive and have a chance at happiness?

My Thoughts:

Fantastic. Engaging. Riveting. Explosive. Emotional. Gripping. Action-packed. These are the words I brainstormed about the book before writing this review. I wasn’t able to connect them all into coherent sentences, so thought I would just give it to you raw. I just finished Into The Shadows by Carolyn Crane and wow. Into The Shadows is the third book in The Associates Series and had me feeling the whole gamete of emotions. I was engaged from the first page and was pretty much on the edge of my seat until the very end. There is something very unique about Carolyn’s writing and I have yet to figure out how to describe it, so just read this book and you will know what I am talking about.

Thorne is the hero in Into The Shadows and is a very complex character. He is self-confident but in a somewhat skewed way. My heart went out to him when we were given flashbacks to help us understand the decisions he makes. I liked him from the beginning yet I never really knew what he was going to do in any situation. He kept me turning the pages. Nadia is the heroine and she seems to have a better head on her shoulders than Thorne, but she still has many issues to overcome. Throw in a toddler, a very dangerous gang leader (hate him), a lost mother and you have quite the story in Into The Shadows.

Thorne and Nadia together are potent. Like, explosive. The intimacy the two of them share is intense. I didn’t like the game they played with one another back when they were dating, mostly because it hurt my feelings to even hear them joke about things (you will understand when you read the book), however, I understood why they did it as characters. I really enjoyed Thorne and Nadia’s love story. It was definitely not a cookie cutter version of a romance. It was about two people that grew up in horrible circumstances and still make it out okay in the end. It reminded me that each love story has their own quirks and challenges, but if two people are dedicated to and love one another, anything can happen.

The plot in Into The Shadows is gritty, violent, raw and emotional all at the same time. Carolyn doesn’t sugar-coat things and gives it to you straight. While reading, I felt the same thing the characters felt. The anxiety in a situation was real to me, as I could literally feel my heart speed up while reading. The story moves fast and I found myself hanging on every word just so I didn’t miss a thing. If you like romantic suspense, you must read this series. Each book can be read as a standalone so start anywhere. If you want edge-of-your-seat action and heart-melting romance, I suggest you give Into The Shadows a try.

Reviewed by: Amy R.

Five stars

Posted in Reviews, Romantic Suspense | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments