Spotlight: Juan Pablo and the Butterflies by JJ Flowers

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Read Juan Pablo and the Butterflies Before It Comes Out On The Big Screen!!

Juan Pablo, a brilliant classical violinist, lives in El Rosario, Mexico’s Butterfly sanctuary. His grandmother Elena is the local medicine woman. The story opens with a bang: a group of narco-traffickers have posted banners signaling a takeover of their town. El Rosario is turned into a ghost town, but Juan Pablo must remain, as his grandmother has fallen gravely ill. His best friend Rocio and her grandfather (who owns the local cantina) stay as well, to help Juan Pablo care for the woman they all love. Just before Elena dies, she makes a startling announcement: she tells Juan Pablo it is time for him to follow the migration of the butterflies north--up through Baja into the United States and all the way to Pacific Grove, CA, another butterfly sanctuary, where, she promises, someone will be waiting for him.

Who this is becomes one of the mysteries fueling the novel.

After shooting up the town, the droguistas take over the cantina, demanding food and discovering Rocio hiding in the upstairs apartment. Juan Pablo must save his best friend and the love of his life. In desperation he uses one of his abuela’s poisons and inadvertently kills eight men. An epic chase begins, one that puts Juan Pablo and Rocio in constant danger on the ever so suspenseful and exciting journey north. Did I mention the story rips beginning to end?

A strong spiritual element is woven throughout the narrative, emerging as Elena’s unique, wise and sometimes comical understanding of the world guides our two heroes on the treacherous journey north. The spiritual element provides a strong counterpoint to the devastation, violence and ruined lives brought by the drug cartels operations on both sides of the border.

Excerpt

Machine gun fire!

Juan Pablo cracked open the door of his modest home, and peered down the darkened street. The bratatat sounded louder than the blaring music and a furious rev of engines. Like a hammer to glass, the onslaught of noise destroyed the quiet of the butterfly sanctuary. Headlights swept El Rosario’s plaza as several trucks and an SUV circled the cobble stone square. Armed men hung off the side of the trucks and the relentless barrage of their machine guns filled the star-filled night.

Narco-traffickers. Here in El Rosario, home to a billion Monarch Butterflies and the two dozen families who loved them.

Juan Pablo slammed the brightly painted front door with the rainbow colored “Welcome!” sign. For the first time in his life, he found the rusty old lock and bolted it. He rushed to switch off the lamp at his abuela’s bedside before collapsing to the floor. He finished his ninth desperate text to the Novedades de México, the major newspaper for Mexico City.

Help! Narco-traffickers are shooting up the plaza in El Rosario. No one is left but our neighbors Mario and Rocio Ruiz and my abuela, Dr. Elena Venesa. She is unconscious with a fever--we need a doctor. Please send help

After hitting send, he texted Rocio who was hiding in the Cantina:

Juan Pablo: They’re here.

Rocio: Outside.

Juan Pablo: Can u get here?            

Rocio: Too late. Under the bed. Scared. Praying. You? Elena?

Juan Pablo: Same. She is so still…

Rocio: Abuelo will request an ambulance for her.

Juan Pablo: Be safe Rocio. Don’t come out until they are gone. Promise me.

Rocio: I promise.

Juan Pablo stared with horror at his shaking hands. His violinist’s fingers, long, calloused, agile and strong, had never failed him before. He clasped them tight, and made his way to  to the door to listen.

Last week a large black, red and white banner, sporting a menacing el Diablo with sinister eyes and a leering grin stretched across the sole road into their sleepy town. This was how the drug cartel marked a territory and warned the people that the police could not protect them now.  The tourists had departed with most of the butterflies nearly a month before. Of the locals, everyone with relatives in Mexico City, Guadalajara or anywhere with a larger population and so somewhat safer, had packed up and left. Everyone promised to send help back to save the old lady they all loved, but no help ever came. No ambulance dared pass these murderous gangs.

Machine gun fire cracked like thunder and lightning into the sky.

          Would Rocio be safe under the bed?  

Born auspiciously one year, one month, one day apart from him, Rocio was his best friend in this life. (Even though she was bossy and they spent half the time arguing with each other, “like two puppies rough housing,” his abuela said more than once, “You Juan Pablo, such a know it all and Rocio always so bossy, this great cosmic dance between you two is hilarious already…) He closed his eyes, conjuring Rocio’s waist length dark hair and bright, teasing eyes, her skinny legs, and big feet.

Rocio’s uncle in La Peñita de Jaltemba, just north of Puerto Vallarta, begged them to leave before it was too late, but both Mario and Rocio had refused. They would not leave either him or his abuela. “Even if my abuelo could bear to lose the Cantina to the banditos, how could we possibly leave Elena and you, JP?”

Mario had agreed with his granddaughter. “Elena saved my beautiful wife’s life. She saw my daughter into this world and then Leonardo and Rocio. She taught Leonardo all she knows about the herbs and potions and helped him become a doctor too, bless her.” Rocio’s mother worked as a nurse in Arizona, helping to pay for Leonardo’s medical school in Puerto Rico and she was now very close to becoming a US citizen. “We owe everything to Elena, we all do,” Mario added. “Besides, Rocio would never forgive me if anything happened to you, Juan Pablo.”

You could sometimes reason with these modern day monsters, Mario had heard. Wasn’t it rumored that they sometimes paved a road or built a school or gave money to an orphanage? Mario planned to beg them to let an ambulance through for an old woman. “We will pay whatever they ask. Even the worse banditos would not let an abuela die for no good reason. And since no one is here but us and the butterflies, they will soon tire of El Rosario and be gone.”

Just keep Rocio safe. They wouldn’t hurt her, would they?

She was just a girl, only fourteen. 

The relentless gunfire and booming music snatched the hope, replacing it with an escalating fear as he thought of the hundreds of stories of the narco-traffickers brutality and viciousness. “Like a deadly virus consuming my beloved country,” his abuela had shaken her head helplessly, knowing no medicine of magic with which to save Mexico from this terrible plague. Everyone had at least one relative, often more, who had lost their life’s savings, died, disappeared, or lived in fear of dying and disappearing. This army of the devil shot people for no reason anyone knew, and like demons from hell, they often tortured them first. They were known to disappear whole families, killing those police that they couldn’t bribe, and taking over whole towns before stealing everyone’s money. They recruited boys even younger than him, forcing them to rob, hide drugs, kill, or be killed. His abuela always imagined El Rosario, their tiny portion of paradise was at least safe, that the mountains and the butterflies themselves would always protect them. But this was not so anymore.

The gunfire and rev of engines abruptly ceased. 

Unlatching the rusty lock, Juan Pablo cautiously cracked the door an inch in order to better hear. A man shouted orders, his loud demands rose above the noise of drunken laughter. Tajo, Rocio’s dog, barked frantically at the commotion.  

Gunfire sounded again, followed by Tajo’s surprised yelp.

 “No, no. Dios Mio.” Mario cried out, this barely audible. “Tajo. Tajo.”

Juan Pablo brows drew a sharp line above his green eyes.

Did they shoot Tajo? Why would they shot a little dog?

Sweet, friendly Tajo, their town’s mascot, Tajo whose wagging tail greeted the tourist buses, who followed them up to the meadow in the afternoons, Tajo who loved his violin’s music, Mario’s left over uchepos, and Rocio’s gentle hands. If they killed a small dog, what else could they do? Would they let an ambulance through to aid an old lady? Would they leave a young girl unharmed?

The answer ricocheted through his mind, but how could he stop them? He was just a teenager, tall maybe, but skinny too. He had no gun, power, and worse, no courage. He might love superheroes, but he was not one of them. All he knew was music and books; he was the exact opposite of an action hero.

He shut the door again, bolting it again.

His gaze found his abuela’s stilled form on the small cot.

How could the old woman fall ill now, when they needed her most?

Buy on Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

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Most of JJ Flowers' published books are historical romance novels (Avon Books, Zebra Books,) many of which actually won awards and one of these awards was almost considered prestigious. She finally stopped being able to write these novels when she began having fantasies of killing off her heroines—in really dreadful ways. Her screenplays have been optioned at Warner Bros., Julian Krainin Productions, Bright Light Pictures among others; She suspects she holds the record for most amount of options! Two of her screenplays have received excellent coverage: The Good Fight, Clarence Darrow’s most compelling case where he successfully defended an African American physician who was falsely accused of murder and a two part miniseries Harriet Tubman: Let My People Go. As the world confronts the refugee and immigration crisis, Juan Pablo showed up to share his story, one that she thinks can offer hope for everyone. 

Connect: Website | Facebook

Spotlight: A Scoundrel’s Ruin featuring Christina McKnight

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Genre: Historical Romance, Regency
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Embrace ruination and become engrossed as the scandal unfolds in each story by 6 USA TODAY Bestselling authors.

Dance With Me At Midnight by Samantha Holt
Charles always knew he’d be married within months of inheriting his title. He’s fully prepared to wed a woman he’s never met by summer. Until he meets her that is.  Eloise is nothing like the poised, elegant and controlled woman he thought she’d be. Beautiful, yes, even with a damned parrot sitting on her shoulder, but hardly marchioness material. Even if he does find himself a little intrigued by her.

Stealing the Rogue's Heart by Erica Monroe
When underworld princess Mina Mason falls for her childhood best friend, Charlie Thatcher, their passion starts a rival gang war that threatens to inflame London. With darkness and danger at every turn, these two star-crossed lovers risk it all for love.

For The Love of a Widow by Christina McKnight
After years spent following her husband as he fought against Napoleon’s troops, Lady Lettie Hughes returns to London as a widow to take her place in Polite Society as the daughter of an earl. When nightmares of the battlefield plague her, she’ll find a second chance at love with the man she lost six years before.

Stolen by My Knave by Dawn Brower
Jackerson Carwyn, the Duke of Whitewood hasn’t led the charmed life some believe, and in fact, grew up in the worst parts of London. Lady Elizabeth Kendall grew up on whimsical tales told by her mother. They are an unlikely match, and yet, sometimes its hard to dismiss the ties of the heart.

Taming a Savage Gentleman by Tammy Andresen
Baroness Segrave needs a husband for society’s sake but she’d prefer he have no opinion at all. Which is why the Earl of Loudoun seems the ideal choice. With no fortune and a drinking habit, he should allow her to keep running her estate while living off the allowance she’d provide. But Loudoun proves to be both drunk and foolish. Suddenly a husband who is strong, capable, and appreciative of her gifts gains merit in her eyes. A man like Tom Maddox.

Scandalous Wallflower by Amanda Mariel
Jane and Caleb are brought together through an unwanted circumstance and discover something neither one believed they'd ever have, but can they let go of old hurts and beliefs long enough to embrace the gift fate bestowed upon them?

Buy on Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

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USA TODAY Bestselling Author Christina McKnight writes emotional and intricate Regency Romance with rebellious women and maverick heroes. 

Her books combine romance and mystery, exploring themes of redemption and forgiveness. When not writing she enjoys coffee, wine, traveling the world, and watching television.

You can visit her online at the following places: Website Facebook | Twitter Goodreads

Spotlight: A Pilgrimage to Death by Alexa Padgett

A Pilgrimage to Death
Alexa Padgett
Publication date: August 14th 2018
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

They murdered her sister. They threatened her church. But their day of reckoning will cost her everything…

When Cici Gurule finds the dead body of a parishioner in the nearby Santa Fe National Forest, she’s horrified to realize the victim bears the same stab wounds that ended her twin sister’s life one year earlier.

Now, as a freewheeling, progressive reverend who’ll stop at nothing to protect her flock, she’ll need to join forces with her detective friend and loyal pair of Great Pyrenees to hunt down the killer before she’s forced to officiate another funeral.

Soon, however, Cici discovers her sister was on the trail of a deep-rooted criminal operation, and her death was no random act of violence. With the criminals out for Cici’s blood, she needs to catch the wolf by the tail…before it goes in for the kill.

Fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Stacy Claflin will love Alexa’s Padgett’s new edge-of-your-seat novel! Scroll up and click to start this fast-paced, high-octane mystery thriller!

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Are you a book bloggers?
Request a review copy here!

EXCERPT:

Sam brought his chair down with a soft thump as it hit the patio paver but he didn’t say anything for another long moment.

“Anna Carmen was my best friend. She helped me through a hard time—she helped me see what I couldn’t then.”

Cici’s lip trembled as she lifted her teacup. “I miss her, too. So much. Yesterday . . . it all came bubbling back up.”

Sam’s hand settled on Cici’s shoulder in that gesture of comfort she’d come to depend on.

“I know you do. And, yeah, I figured it would.”

Jaycee sidled up to their table and settled Sam’s large glass of iced tea on the table. Condensation formed on the glass, dripping down to wet the white napkin beneath it.

“I thought of something,” the girl said.

Both Cici and Sam turned their faces up to the teenager.

“Mr. Johnson told me one time he was meeting someone about a case.” Her brow wrinkled for a moment before she shrugged. “Does that help?”

Sam tugged at his short ponytail. “Maybe. Thanks, Jaycee.”

“Sure.” The girl skittered off to greet some new patrons.

“You think you know what the case is, don’t you?” Cici asked, pouring more tea into her cup.

Author Bio:

With a degree in international marketing and a varied career path that includes content management for a web firm, marketing direction for a high-profile sports agency, and a two-year stint with a renowned literary agency, award-winning author Alexa Padgett has returned to her first love: writing fiction.

Alexa spent a good part of her youth traveling. From Budapest to Belize, Calgary to Coober Pedy, she soaked in the myriad smells, sounds, and feels of these gorgeous places, wishing she could live in them all—at least for a while. And she does in her books.

She lives in New Mexico with her husband, children, and Great Pyrenees pup, Ash. When not writing, schlepping, or volunteering, she can be found in her tiny kitchen, channeling her inner Barefoot Contessa.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Spotlight: The Body in the Ballroom: An Alice Roosevelt Mystery by R. J. Koreto

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The Body in the Ballroom

by R.J. Koreto

on Tour July 1-31, 2018

Synopsis:

The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto

President Teddy Roosevelt’s daring daughter, Alice, leaps into action to exonerate a friend accused of poisoning a man just about everyone hated.

Alice Roosevelt, the brilliant, danger-loving daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, has already risked an assassin’s bullet to solve one murder. She never expected to have to sleuth another, but she’d never pass up the opportunity, either. Anything to stave off boredom.

And such an opportunity presents itself when Alice is invited to a lavish ball. The high-society guests are in high spirits as they imbibe the finest wines. But one man, detested by nearly all the partygoers, quaffs a decidedly deadlier cocktail. An African-American mechanic, who also happens to be a good friend of former Rough Rider-turned-Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, is suspected of the murder-by-poison, but Alice is sure he’s innocent and is back on the scene to clear his name.

From downtown betting parlors to uptown mansions, Alice and Agent St. Clair uncover forbidden romances and a financial deal that just might change the world. But neither Alice nor her would-be protector may survive the case at hand in The Body in the Ballroom, R. J. Koreto's gripping second Alice Roosevelt mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 12th 2018
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 1683315774 (ISBN13: 9781683315773)
Series: Alice Roosevelt Mystery #2
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

President Roosevelt and I were just finishing out talk when A moment later, the office door opened, and Mr. Wilkie, the Secret Service director, walked in. I stood to greet him.

“St. Clair. Glad to see you’re back. Very pleased with the way it went in St. Louis.” He turned to the president. “Have you spoken to him yet, sir?”

“Yes, and he’s agreed.” Wilkie looked relieved, too.

“Very good then. If you’re done, sir, I’ll take St. Clair to her. My understanding is that arrangements have been made for Miss Roosevelt to leave tomorrow afternoon.”

“Exactly. We’re all done then. St. Clair, thanks again. And I’ll be up in the near future, so I expect to see you again soon.” We shook hands, and I followed Mr. Wilkie out the door.

“Is she smoking on the roof again, sir?” I asked. That’s what happened the first time I met Alice in the White House.

He grimaced. “No. My understanding is that she is in the basement indulging a new hobby of hers. But you’ll see.” He led me downstairs, and that’s when I heard the unmistakable sounds of gunfire. Mr. Wilkie didn’t seem worried, however. “Miss Roosevelt somehow got hold of a pistol and has set up her own private firing range in a storage room. We launched an investigation to figure out how Miss Roosevelt obtained such a weapon but were unable to reach a formal conclusion, I’m sorry to say.”

No wonder they wanted me back.

And just as when Mr. Wilkie had sent me to get Alice off the roof, he once again cleaned his glasses on his handkerchief, shook my hand, wished me luck, and departed.

I heard one more shot, and that was it. She was probably reloading. The sound came from behind a double door at the end of the hallway. I carefully opened it, and she didn’t notice at first.

I watched her concentrating on the pistol, her tongue firmly between her teeth as she carefully focused on reloading. It was an old Smith & Wesson single-action, and she was damn lucky she hadn’t blown her own foot off. She was shooting at a mattress propped against the far wall, and from the wide scattering of holes, it was clear her marksmanship needed a lot of practice.

“A little more patience, Miss Alice. You’re jerking the trigger; that’s why you keep shooting wild. And that gun’s too big for you.”

It was a pleasure to see the look of shock and joy on her face. She just dropped the gun onto a box and practically skipped to me, giving me a girlish hug. “Mr. St. Clair, I have missed you.” She looked up. “And I know you have missed me. They say you’re back on duty with me. We’re heading to New York tomorrow, and we’ll have breakfast together like we used to and walk to the East Side through Central Park and visit your sister Mariah.”

I couldn’t do anything but laugh. “We’ll do all that, Miss Alice. But I’m on probation from your aunt, so we have to behave ourselves. You have to behave yourself.”

“I always behave.” She waved her hand to show that the discussion had ended. “Now there must be a trick to loading revolvers because it takes me forever.”

“I’ll teach you. Someday.” I made sure the revolver was unloaded and stuck it in my belt. Then I scooped up the cartridges and dumped them in my pocket.

“Hey, that’s my revolver,” said Alice. “It took me a lot of work to get it.”

“You’re not bringing it to New York, that’s for sure, Miss Alice.”

She pouted. “I thought you’d relax a little after being in St. Louis.”

“And I thought you’d grow up a little being in Washington. You want to walk into the Caledonia like a Wild West showgirl? Anyway, don’t you have some parties to go to up there?”

“Oh, very well. But promise me you’ll take me to a proper shooting range in New York and teach me how to load and fire your New Service revolver.”

“We’ll see. Meanwhile, if you don’t upset your family or Mr. Wilkie between now and our departure tomorrow, I’ll buy you a beer on the train.” That made her happy.

We walked upstairs as she filled me in on White House gossip.

“Oh, and I heard you were in a fast draw in St. Louis and gunned down four men.” She looked up at me curiously.

“A little exaggeration,” I said. I hadn’t killed anyone in St. Louis, hadn’t even fired my revolver, except for target practice.

“You didn’t kill anyone?” she asked, a little disappointed.

“No. No one.”

But then her face lit up. “Because your reputation proceeded you, and they knew there was no chance of outdrawing you.”

“That must be it,” I said.

“But look on the bright side,” she said, still full of cheer. “New York is a much bigger city. Maybe you’ll get a chance to shoot someone there.”

***

Excerpt from The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto. Copyright © 2018 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto has been fascinated by turn-of-the-century New York ever since listening to his grandfather's stories as a boy.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. He’s a graduate of Vassar College, and like Alice Roosevelt, he was born and raised in New York.

He is the author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes and Alice Roosevelt mysteries. He has been published in both Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He also published a book on practice management for financial professionals.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto On: Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.J. Koreto. There will be 3 winners of three (3) Amazon.com Gift Cards. The giveaway begins on July 1, 2018 and runs through August 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.
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Cover Reveal: Peony Red by J. Lynn Bailey

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Alex Fisher hasn’t been able to find her stride since the death of her husband three years ago. She’s out of a job, out of time, and running on fumes. So, when she receives two postcards from Granite Harbor, Maine, inviting her for a visit, she takes it as a sign for a start fresh.

For game warden Eli Young, life is simpler when he’s exploring the back roads of Maine. In the north woods, he doesn’t have to deal with town politics or his soon-to-be ex-wife.

When Alex makes Eli an offer he can’t refuse, he should say no. He should walk away. Except he can’t. Something about her leaves him tangled.

A dark storm is brewing in the small coastal town, and everyone is on edge when word spreads quickly about a young woman who has gone missing.

When a picture of Alex shows up at a gruesome scene, no one is prepared for what will happen next.

Eli wants to save Alex, but she has to save herself.

The question isn’t, Can she? It’s, Will she?

Exclusive Excerpt

Alex looks ahead, and I watch her. The snowflakes dance and stick to her face; some attach themselves to her eyelashes. Alex holds her hands out and tries to catch a few.

We walk to her side of the truck, only because she has the coffees. She’s gotten more adjusted to the door thing. She said I’d probably tire out soon from opening the door all the time, but I told her it’d take a lifetime. Before I let her in, I hesitate. Not sure if I should do this in town with people watching. But I do it anyway. I lean down, and I kiss her in the softest way possible on her cheek. I linger there for a moment and then pull away, looking down into her caramel-colored eyes. She stares back, and all is quiet as the snow falls around us.

“What was that for?” she whispers.

“For all the times Kyle can’t.”

About the Author

J. Lynn Bailey has loved to write since she learned to read, around the second grade. When she isn't running after her children, watching COPS, or on the hunt for her next Laffy Taffy joke, you can probably find her holed up in her writing room feverishly working on her next book. She lives in Northern California with her family.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | My Website

Spotlight: The Adventures of Louise by Bena Roberts


My Cake!
The Adventures of Louise Book 1
by Bena Roberts
Genre: Romantic Comedy, ChickLit

Louise, otherwise known as a red-haired Kardashian decides she wants to settle down. She dreams of a sugar daddy and is willing to sacrifice good looks and great sex for Mr. Sensible.
Is this really what Louise wants? Can she put her lover, liar and diva life behind her and fall in love with the older man Gerhard?
Will this May to December date change her life forever? Alternatively, will Louise's sexual appetite make things difficult for her?

Question - What is the first line of the book?

Answer - Yesterday, I had God-like sex with a man juicier than sirloin steak.




This laugh out loud short story is a quick read for the beach, train or plane.





This is a very short story, not a novel or a novella. It has been heavily adapted from one chapter of the book Blind Dates, Big Love & Six Tinder Weeks


**Only .99 cents!!**


My Bite Back!
The Adventures of Louise Book 2

He promised to be a lawyer, a great lover and a tennis player. 
He wasn't. 

First betrayal and manipulation then Louise bites back. After two weeks of feeling sorry for herself, she makes a plan to get her revenge.

This is a hilarious chicklit short story! With a flash of adult humor! 
Betrayal, manipulation, and payback. 

Amazon Short Read - this is a 15 to 30 minute short story!

My Bite Back is from The Adventures of Louise Series all of which can be read as standalone. 
This is an adapted version of one of the chapters from Blind Dates, Big Love and Six Tinder Weeks.


**Only .99 cents!!**


Bena Roberts was a journalist and analyst. Now she prefers the title novelist and romance adventurist. She graduated in England 1994 and then with a Masters in 1997. 

Born in 1973, Bena lived in West London until she was 24. Then she lived and worked in Budapest, Bruges, Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hamburg and Munich. She currently resides in Germany, between Heidelberg and Frankfurt. Although she still refers to London as 'home.'

Bena successfully created a technology blog which gained funding, had lunch with Steve Ballmer and was 'top 50 most influential woman in mobile.' Her blog also won several awards including Metro Best Blog. 

Bena has two children, loves small dogs and always writes books with a cup of Earl Grey. 

Bena's favorite literary style is black humor, and she hopes to offer a unique voice in this area. Her books aim to confront the darkest of life experiences, with levity. Most of her writing is heavy hitting yet also entertaining. The second novel out in 2018 offers thought-provoking fiction which embraces the absurd with reality. 




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Spotlight: Once Upon A Player by Christina Phillips

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Falling for the player was never part of the plan…

Violet

When my mum gets sick, I volunteer to fill in for her and clean some hot jock’s penthouse. I’ve heard all the rumors about him, so the plan is get in, clean some toilet bowls, and get out. After my last experience with a “sports hero,” I’m done with that sort of guy.

But Lucas Carter is full of surprises. He wants to help me clean and is nothing like the toad the press has made him out to be. Resistance may be futile for some girls, but not me. Then he asks me to help him with the interior design of his new place. I can’t say, no. It’s going to look great on my resume.

Unfortunately, spending time with Lucas is dangerous. He’s so charming and sweet, but I can’t let myself forget––once a player, always a player.

Excerpt

“D’you have a business card?”

“What?” The word blurts out before I can stop it, and his grin doesn’t help, since it’s now obvious he knows I thought he wasn’t serious.

He wasn’t serious about wanting my help. Was he?

“I need your number to contact you for when I need your expertise.”

“Does that line ever work?”

“It’s the first time I’ve used it. You tell me.”

Stop flirting, Vi. Except, even though it’s a bad idea on so many levels, I haven’t had so much fun in ages. Which says a lot about my self-imposed exile from the human race, but whatever. The truth is it’s a relief to discover I haven’t totally lost my touch when it comes to guys.

“Honestly? It’s a bit dodgy.”


“I’ve never been accused of being dodgy before.”

“First time for everything.”

“I’m not asking for any special favors. I’ll pay the going rate.”

I’m smiling at him like a smitten groupie, but it’s impossible not to. “You’re funny. I’m not even qualified yet. If I do agree to help you out, all I’d ask in return is a release to use photos, and a testimonial.”

If you don’t ask, you don’t get…

“Deal.” He sticks out his hand, and after a second’s hesitation, when every warning bell clangs in my head that touching Lucas Carter is the worst idea ever, I cave, and his fingers wrap around mine. They’re warm, strong, and slightly callused, and I forget how to breathe.

Yep. Worst idea ever. I need to break contact, but it’s like I’m totally paralyzed, and Lucas doesn’t appear inclined to reclaim his hand any time soon, either.

I clear my throat, which shatters the spell and our connection. I resist the urge to flex my fingers since there’s no way I’m letting him know just how much his touch affected me.

“You’re going to make me ask again, aren’t you?”

I’ve no idea what he’s talking about, but right now that’s a secondary concern because I’ve just agreed to help Lucas freaking Carter redesign his penthouse. Holy shit.

Stop hyperventilating.

Luckily my brain kicks back into gear before he jumps to the conclusion I’m completely flakey. “My number, right. Okay.”

Before I have the chance to rummage for pen and paper in my bag, he hands me his phone. “Here you go.”

It’s a surreal moment as I add my number to his contacts. And so he never looks at my name and thinks, Who the hell? I add “Interior Designer,” and pride surges through me. I might not be qualified yet, but I only have one more year until I am. Having a big name like Lucas in my portfolio sure won’t be a disadvantage.

And then reality hits me, and I can’t believe I’m so flipping gullible. “Are you serious about this? Or is it just some kind of ruse to get my number?”

That didn’t come out right. But I can’t explain what I mean without digging myself further into a hole, and as if I don’t feel bad enough, my face starts to burn.

Well, fuck.
 
“It’s totally a ruse to get your number.” He’s laughing, and I’m not sure whether it’s because he’s trying to take his phone and I have a death grip on the bloody thing, or because he finds the fact I needed to ask the question in the first place hilarious. Did I really think he was nice? “And I’m deadly serious about needing your help.”

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About the Author

Christina Phillips is an ex-pat Brit who now lives in sunny Western Australia with her high school sweetheart and their family. She enjoys writing contemporary, historical and paranormal romance where the stories sizzle and the heroine brings her hero to his knees.

She is a multiple finalist in the 2012 – 2014 ARRA Awards for Favorite Erotic Romance, Favorite Contemporary Romance and Favorite Paranormal Romance. She has been published by Entangled Publishing, Tule Publishing, Harlequin Escape, Penguin/Berkley Heat and The Wild Rose Press, and is also indie published. She is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and helped establish the inaugural Professional Development for Authors program, and has been a member of the editorial team for the RWA’s monthly newsletter, Hearts Talk. She loves hearing from her readers!

Christina is addicted to good coffee, expensive chocolate and bad boy heroes. She is also owned by three gorgeous cats who are convinced the universe revolves around their needs. They are not wrong.

Connect: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Spotlight: Live, Love, Repeat by JD Corbett


Live, Love, Repeat
Milestones Book 1
by JD Corbett
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Over the last 25 years, Liz Banner’s life has grown stagnant. Not that she hasn’t loved being a stay-at-home wife and mother, but she didn’t mean to lose herself in the process. And after surviving the most challenging time in her life, Liz realizes that life is too short, and second chances don’t come around very often.

With a milestone birthday approaching, Liz is determined to live a little. And when her best friend, Anne, gifts her a ticket for a 10-day luxury cruise, Liz decides it’s the perfect excuse to experience new things, and just take some time to relax with some of her favorite women. But her idea of a relaxing vacation gets thrown overboard when a few surprise guests make an appearance and attempt to win their way back into Liz’s heart. 

With a second chance at life…and love, turning 50 never felt better.




Jen Drapp, who writes under the name of J.D. Corbett, was raised in Charleston, South Carolina. As a girl, she was obsessed with learning and reading about historical and fictional characters; one of her favorites being Scarlett O'Hara. Jen has always loved writing, whether it was short stories about made-up worlds or even essays for school. She has recently had two contemporary romances published and continues to learn and grow as an author. Jen currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a 15-year old very fat cat.



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Spotlight: My Dream Job by Marcella Swan

My Dream Job
Marcella Swan
Publication date: July 14th 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Callie

He sees right through me. I like it. No, I crave it. His attention is like an opiate. It isn’t about the money. It isn’t about the power.

Then what? Even ask myself, I already know the answer.

He’s the summit of the mountain I can’t scale, no matter which tools I use. I would give him my body, but he tosses women away without a glance. I could offer my mind, but he’d play me like a well-fingered instrument. He’s mastered life and everything in it.

He holds the secrets. He is everything I want and cannot get for myself. I’ll find his weakness and when I do …

Alec

I’ve grown bored with success. The extraordinary has become my routine. Then she walked into my seminar and I felt the flame of challenge. I wanted her mind, her innocence, her body.

It wasn’t her youth, not even her siren’s body. It was the untilled soil of her potential that drew me toward her.

She was the only thing I could not buy, could not create and could not command. She was the supreme protégé; the urn to receive my carefully cultivated, highly sensitive awareness.
She sat there before me, willing and adoring.

Could I resist my urge to make her what I wanted her to be? Could I leave her richer for having been with me? Could I leave her … ever?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

In between shaking hands, I coolly navigated the rooms, noting that everyone had adhered to costume and seemed to be enjoying themselves. There were two champagne fountains set up centrally and the buffets held warming trays with superbly prepared, gourmet level foods. After all, the event cost $2500 per plate, so at least the food had better be good and the booze plentiful.

“Hello John, how have you been? I don’t believe I’ve seen you since Singapore?”

“Well, Alec, you’re looking fine as usual. Always very fit. Any new deals you can let me in on? Yes, I believe it was Singapore.”

“John, you don’t mean to tell me your instincts are failing you?” I teased him. “Surely you’re the one with the tips to share?”

He shook his head as he left and turned back to the woman standing at his left. I assumed she was his wife, although I had never met her. I moved on.

“Alec! I hear you’ve taken on a new protégé.”

I nodded and looked toward the staircase. Callie hadn’t come down yet and I wondered if she was getting cold feet. “Yes Robert, as a matter of fact I have. Don’t try to steal her from me, now promise?”

“As good as all that, is she?” Robert eyebrows peaked with curiosity.

I neither confirmed nor denied and that was exactly what he expected. I was fairly certain once people met her, the question would come behind my back whether she was my business protégé or mistress. Let them think what they want, I thought to myself. Callie would set them straight.

I felt before I heard, the raised pitch in the conversation undertones. I knew something was happening and looked toward the staircase. Sure enough, Callie was coming down and there wasn’t a word strong enough to describe how beautiful she was.

She had interpreted the pirate theme to include female pirates. Most of the women there were dressed in 19th-century ball gowns, playing the role of the captured mistress or willing stowaway the pirates would use for their pleasure. But not my Callie.

Her beautiful, long legs were encased in black leather, the waist rising higher and ending just below her bosom. She wore a full-sleeved blouse, gathered at the shoulder and ballooning over her long arms before clutching her wrists in crystal studded bands. Its collars lay wide open, cut deeply below her décolletage, the suntanned mounds of her perfect breasts hugging one another in that curtained stage. Her long blonde hair had been drawn high above her neck, cascading in curls below her black, pirate’s hat. It, too, was studded with sparkling crystals. Black, high-heeled leather boots went over where her pantaloons ended and a cummerbund of crimson velvet emphasized her tiny waist. Every man in the room made a wish and every woman scowled. She was a diabolical mistress of the night and she was mine.

She waved at me over the heads of the crowd and I nodded and motioned her forward. People parted to make her path as she came toward me. There was no need to hush the crowd, they were already silent with appreciation. “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce my assistant and protégé, Ms. Callie Courtney. I’ve been fortunate enough to snap up this talented young lady and include her in my organization before the rest of you even knew she was available. I encourage each of you to meet her personally this evening as she will often be my personal representative. She will be authorized to discuss and execute all business on my behalf.”

My introduction drew an intake of breath across the room. I was not known for giving up control of any aspect of my business and the fact that I had just transferred trust onto Callie’s beautiful shoulders was rare indeed. A stuttering of quiet comments blossomed across the room and soon there was a general applause for her introduction. Callie beamed, smiling graciously and tilting her head to individuals around the room. She leaned toward me and whispered in my ear. “I’m so nervous,” she said, her voice higher pitched than normal in her anxiety.

“Honey, they’re more afraid of you than you are of them, I guarantee you. Everyone in this room owes me in one way or another. Think of yourself as a queen who can order heads chopped off.”

She looked at me, her eyes wide, her mouth forming an O-shape before dissolving into a smile as she winked.

Author Bio:

Marcella Swann has been putting words on paper for as long as she can remember. After working for years in the hard-boiled world of journalism, she how devotes her time to writing contemporary romances of strong-willed women who win the men of their dreams. As passionate about love as the beauty of a story well told, Marcella is a complete romantic and believes everyone desires their happily ever after. A small town girl from Louisiana, Marcella now lives in New York City and starts each day walking her Yorkie in the park. She also swings a mean kettle bell at the gym and loves karaoke nights with her friends.

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Spotlight: The Boyfriend Whisperer by Linda Budzinski

The Boyfriend Whisperer
Linda Budzinski
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: November 15th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

As President and CEO of Boyfriend Whisperer Enterprises, Lexi Malloy is Grand View High School’s undercover Cupid. One problem: She’s stuck in the friend zone when it comes to her own crush, Chris Broder. She and Chris have been best friends since the third grade, and he doesn’t even seem to realize she’s is a member of the opposite sex.

When pretty and popular cheerleader Lindsay LaRouche hires Lexi to whisper Chris, she has to decide whether to place her commitment to her company—and Chris’s happiness—before herself.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

I crank up Mumford & Sons on my iPod and pull up the Boyfriend Whisperer Enterprises files on my tablet. With Valentine’s ten days away, I need to plot out some big moves for my clients.

I start with Jolene. I watched Brendon staring at her this afternoon during the pep rally. He’s falling hard. No need to play it subtle. He likes spicy food, so Red Hots are an obvious choice, in a heart-shaped tin. What should the card say? Something super flirty. “Let’s heat it up on Valentine’s.” No … “spice it up.” I jot that down and move on to my next client.

Just as I’m picking out a sweet YouTube link I want her to send her BF-to-be, Coach Reilly pulls my earbud out and scares me half to death.

“Malloy! I’m talking to you. What are you working on?”

I slam my tablet shut. “What? Homework. Sorry. What do you need?”

She shoves my backpack to the floor and plops down beside me. “Let’s talk about tomorrow. We’re expecting scouts from all over. Rumor has it someone from U Conn might even turn up.”

She pauses as if to gauge my reaction, so I force a smile. “U Conn? Wow. That’s great.”

She leans in. “There’ll be a lot of buzz in that arena. Parents, coaches, other players. They’ll all be talking about the scouts and about you and your future. Here’s the thing: You need to ignore them.”

“Ignore them.”

“Exactly. You have one job tomorrow, and that’s to play the best game Alexis Malloy knows how to play. Run, pass, shoot, rebound. That’s it. The rest is static. Ignore the static.”

“Got it. Static.”

Coach furrows her brow. “You nervous?”

“Maybe a little.”

She pats my arm as she stands. “A little nervousness is good. You’ve got this, Malloy. You can do it.”

I smile and slump back into my seat. The fact is, I’m not at all nervous. I only said that so she wouldn’t launch into a lecture about being too cocky. She’s forever vacillating between warning me not to be too nervous and not to be too cocky, when in reality, I’m neither. The truth is, when it comes to college scouts, I just wish they’d leave me alone.


Author Bio:

My young adult novels, EM & EM (2015) and THE FUNERAL SINGER (2013), were both published by Swoon Romance YA. My upcoming novel, THE BOYFRIEND WHISPERER, scheduled for publication in fall of 2016 by Swoon, received the Romance Writers of America Young Adult Chapter’s 2015 Rosemary Award and the Virginia Chapter’s 2015 Fool for Love Award.

I live in Northern Virginia with my husband, Joe, and our feisty chihuahua, Demitria (also known as Dee Dee, The Puppy, and Killer). I’m a sucker for romance and reality TV and have been known to turn off my phone’s ringer when watching “The Bachelor.”

My favorite flower is the daisy, my favorite food is chocolate, and my favorite song is “Amazing Grace.”

When I’m not writing, I work in nonprofit management. I’m represented by the amazing Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc.

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