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The Enchanted Garden Cafe
Abigail Drake
(South Side Stories, #1)
Publication date: May 1st 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

For her sixth birthday, Fiona Campbell’s mother, Claire, made her a peace sign piñata filled with wishes for a better planet instead of candy. When she got her period, her mother held a womanhood ceremony at their café and invited the neighborhood. On her sixteenth birthday, they celebrated with a drum circle.

Fiona grew up trying to keep the impulsive Claire in check, and their struggling café afloat. She plans to move out, but first must find a way to stop a big corporation from tearing down their business and destroying her mother’s livelihood.

Claire thinks karma will solve their financial and legal problems. Fiona prefers a spreadsheet and a solid business plan. The last thing she has time for is Matthew Monroe, a handsome complication who walks through their door with a guitar on his back and a naughty gleam in his eye. But when disaster strikes, and Fiona’s forced to turn to him for help, will she learn to open her heart and find she can believe in something magical after all?

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The cab let me off right in front of the café. People sat at the small tables we’d set up on the sidewalk, and others hovered near the door, listening. It was quite a crowd, and as soon as the sound of the music reached my ears, I understood why.

Matthew sat on a barstool, strumming his guitar. Mom softly kept the beat with a set of bongos she had tucked between her legs. Moses played his saxophone, the sound twisting and winding though Matthew’s music like an intricate quilt. A young woman with braided hair and skin that glowed in the candlelight belted out a soulful melody about love and loss and hope.

I stopped, as enthralled by the music as the others. The woman had a lovely voice, and Moses was a genius, but Matthew grabbed my attention and held it. His black shirt and jeans accentuated his sleek, muscular body.A necklace with a yin and yang symbol carved in wood hung on a leather cord around his neck. His dark hair brushed his shoulders, as soft and smooth as silk, and his elegant fingers flew skillfully over the guitar, making it moan and sing and cry with a hauntingly beautiful sound. I’d never heard anything like it, and Matthew was as mesmerizing as his music.

As soon as the song finished, Matthew’s eyes met mine. I’d been caught watching him but couldn’t look away. This time he didn’t smile. He stared back at me, his expression as haunted and sad and beautiful as the song he’d played.

Mom came up and touched my arm. “Isn’t he amazing?”

I nodded, not trusting myself to speak.

Author Bio:

Award winning author Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy. Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three boys (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

Abigail, who also writes young adult fiction under the name Wende Dikec, is the winner of the prestigious 2017 Prism Award for her book Traveller, and the International Digital Award for her young adult book, Tiger Lily. In addition, she was a finalist in the Golden Pen, the Golden Leaf, the Dante Rossetti Book Award, and the Cygnus Award for Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction.

For more information about Abigail, visit her website at

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At Shutter Speed
Rebecca Burrell
Publication date: May 1st 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary

In the click of a shutter, #Resistance becomes more than just a hashtag.

Pass the bar exam. Convince someone—anyone—in the Egyptian government to admit they’ve imprisoned your husband. Don’t lose your mind. For fledgling human rights attorney Leah Cahill, the past six months have been a trial by fire, ever since Matty, a respected but troubled war photojournalist, disappeared during a crackdown in Cairo.

Leah, the daughter of a civil rights icon, grew up wanting to change the world; Matty was the one who showed her she could. Though frustrated by the US government’s new fondness for dictators, she persists, until a leaked email reveals a crumbling democracy far closer to home.

Risking her own freedom, she gains proof Matty’s being detained at a U.S. ‘black site’, stemming from his work covering the refugee crisis in Syria. Armed with his photo archives, Leah plunges into their past together, a love story spanning three continents. She uncovers secrets involving Matty’s missionary childhood, her own refugee caseload, and the only story the deeply principled reporter ever agreed to bury. It’s what got him captured—and what might still get him killed. With Leah’s last chance to save him slipping away, Matty’s biggest secret may be one he’s willing to die to protect.

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As far as the world is concerned, Matty is one of hundreds missing in the crackdown. Amnesty classifies him as a prisoner of conscience, but between shooting, imprisoning, and brutalizing every journalist and dissident they can get their hands on, Egypt denies they have him. Reporters Without Borders says ‘Missing, whereabouts and welfare unknown’. The network that sent him to Cairo washed their hands of the whole thing as soon as the first ransom demand came in. ‘Due to Mr. Cahill’s status as a freelance journalist, we regret that we are unable to provide further assistance. Mr. Cahill was advised of the need to provide his own kidnap insurance’. Most of our friends think he’s dead, which isn’t a possibility I’m willing to consider. At least not out loud. But in the lonely, small hours of the night, sometimes I wake up talking to his ghost.

To hear people talk, I’ve gone off the deep end. ‘He’s obviously dead, she’s in denial. She’s better off without him anyway.’ ‘His own fault, going those places.’ Social media? Forget it. Turns out, posting an appeal for a captured journalist is a surprisingly effective way to generate rape threats.

The fact is, the ‘kidnap insurance’ Matty was supposed to buy cost more than the assignment paid. He covered the Syrian Civil War in Russian surplus body armor he bought on Craigslist. We both knew the risks. But not getting Matty back means accepting a world where journalism is expendable. Even the truth itself. If fighting that makes me crazy, then so be it.

I found this tiny apartment after he disappeared, a one-bedroom off Columbus Circle. A bay window overlooks the street, floor to ceiling bookcases in the hall, filled with framed photos and books, plus dozens of sandpipers Matty had carved out of driftwood while we were shacked up with my parents. He’d spend hours watching them dart along the shore, lost in his thoughts.

Oops, like me. Late for work.

I’m wearing his favorite T-shirt, which doesn’t smell like him anymore, but I pretend it does. I slip it off, then throw on a navy skirt suit—the universal female junior associate attire. It’s my suit of armor, defense against the whispers that I only have a job because of my dad, but it can’t stop me from feeling like a fraud on the inside. Silly old Leah can’t even get the Egyptian Government to answer her inquiries anymore.

After grabbing a pair of heels, I run out the door. Though I know Matty would yell at me for doing it, I leave it unlocked. I always do. Just in case.

The days after he vanished are a blurred nightmare, stumbling through fields of bodies in the makeshift morgues, until my visa got revoked and the State Department threw me on a plane home. The first thing I did was call the firm to let them know I couldn’t take the job. Not with Matty’s trail growing colder by the second. One of the founders, Julie Coventry, who’d clerked for my dad back in the day, picked my ass off the floor and drove me to the bar herself. ‘Pull it together. You’ll need your license. You’ll need our resources. You’ll need advice. This is not the time to go it alone.’

Junior associates at God & Coventry—nicknamed for either the other founder’s legal reputation or the fact he’s approximately six thousand years old—carry between fifteen and twenty cases. Including Matty, I have thirty-two. It’s partly because immigration attorneys who speak passable Arabic are few and far between, partly because the administration hasn’t met an immigrant it doesn’t want to deport, and partly because I begged for the extra work. If I stop moving, I’ll drown.

What it means on this particular day is that I have to be at the courthouse by eight a.m. to ambush a judge who makes a game of hiding from lawyers who need his signature, because if I’m not, one of my thirty-two clients will be deported to his home country and killed. I have to be at the firm by nine a.m. to meet with Julie for my thrice-delayed performance review, which is about to get delayed a fourth time because I have to go and prostrate myself in front of Senator Nance to get Immigration to stop sitting on a different asylum petition that’s about to expire. Which would undoubtedly go better if I hadn’t lost it with him last week over a ‘sanctuary city’ defunding provision he caved on, because apparently, refugees are only worth saving if they’re victims or saints instead of ordinary, flawed people like the rest of us. Basically? It’s going to be a fun morning.

Brushing raindrops from my hair, I sprint up the courthouse steps, after spotting Judge Lawrence Q. Underwood skulking behind the Civil War monument by the south entrance. It’s judiciary-only, which means I have to use the western entrance, take my chances with the pervy security guard because his line is invariably shorter, and then catch Underwood before he reaches his office, because the lawyer-hating architect who designed the courthouse thought it would be great to have separate corridors for judges, juries, defendants and attorneys, so none of us ever have to talk to each other. Except when we do. Which Underwood finds hilarious.

Panting, I catch the old coot as he ducks into the sixth-floor men’s room. With peaked grey eyebrows, bowed legs and an overstuffed belly, he’s a chimera of a horned owl and a basset hound. He waves his copy of the Post. “Nature calls, Counselor. You’ll have to wait.”

I debate following him, but rumor has it the last attorney who did found his client on a plane to Uganda an hour later. “Your honor, it won’t take a minute,” I say, pushing the door a crack. “I just need a signature.”

All I get is a fart and a whistle. To the tune of the United Airlines theme song.

“I’ll be outside, your honor.”


Author Bio:

In her own fictional world, Rebecca Burrell is a secret Vatican spy, a flight nurse swooping over the frozen battlefields of Korea, or a journalist en-route to cover the latest world crisis. In real life, she’s a scientist in the medical field. She lives in Massachusetts with her family, two seriously weird cats, and a dog who’s convinced they’re taunting him.

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The Guardians
The Tempest Isle Series Book 1
by S.C. Storm and Rena Marin
Genre: YA Fantasy
Hidden in the beauty of a cluster of islands, unbeknownst to humans, a
supernatural war rages. The Guardians, protectors of the Nexxus and
the Goddess Selena, fight daily to ensure the survival of all races.
Hidden agendas, supernatural politics, and sins of the past threaten
to endanger the very world they all strive to protect. Led by two
families who must embrace their destinies, the Guardians of Tempest
must now step up to lead their races to victory.

Rena Marin is a fantasy/paranormal/horror author as well as reviewer. In 2017,
she and her co-author S.C. Storm introduced the world to The Tempest
Isle Series, with “The Guardians,” which was published by
Zombie Cupcake Press. At the end of 2017, she and her co-author also
penned the short, “My Sister’s Keeper,” which was featured
in the Zombie Cupcake Press Anthology, Madame Scarlet’s Carnival.
A writer of fantasy/paranormal/horror, Rena finds herself a lover of
the written word and hoping to branch out to multiple genres.
Rena is happily married to her soul mate, Daniel. The two of them reside
in the beautiful mountain town of Newport, Tn. with their two
children Cody and Amber.
S.C. Storm was born in Austin, Texas. She wrote poems as a hobby when she was in
school but motherhood took over and she stopped. Many years later,
she met her bestie Rena Marin online. After some time, Tempest was born.
Married to the love of her life, Willie, for 28 years, between them, they
have six children and ten grandchildren.
Recently widowed, she lives in Kyle, Texas spending her
time helping their youngest daughter continue her dads business,
taking care of her youngest son and her four cats, babysitting
grandkids and writing.
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive content and a giveaway!

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Playing for Keeps
Alison Packard
(Feeling the Heat, #6)
Publication date: May 1st 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

He’s riding the bench. She’s living a lie. The game of love is won in extra innings.

Following a terrible tragedy, Rick Taylor is making his comeback to the major leagues… and the dating scene. But years off the roster have left the veteran catcher a little rusty. It’ll take a special woman to heal the heartache of losing his family. But the perfect contender refuses to let him try out…

Single mom Amy Vaughn leads a double life. Between her daytime job and her nightclub gig, she can’t afford to date a famous baseball player… especially when the publicity could bring her dark secret to light. But the handsome catcher’s charms prove too strong to resist.

When old memories and new notoriety threaten to tear them apart, Rick and Amy must learn to drop their defenses, or they’ll miss out on their second chance at love.

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Sitting next to Rick at the breakfast bar Amy was acutely aware of everything about him. His subtle scent; a mixture of soap and cologne that was unique to him invaded her senses. He’d shaved so the stubble was gone, but even without it he was sexy as hell. Underneath the navy blue Henley shirt, the play of his muscles as he’d worked in the kitchen had riveted her. The sleeves had been pushed up to his elbows to reveal his muscular forearms. She was taller than average, but next to Rick she felt almost dainty.

With a happy sigh, she set her fork on her empty plate. “On a scale of one to ten, your crepes are a definite ten.”

“I told you I had mad culinary skills.” He looked pleased as he grabbed their plates, then slipped off of his stool and rounded the counter to place them in the sink. Amy’s gaze lowered to his perfect ass. Boxers, briefs, or the ever popular boxer-briefs? She’d find out soon.

Just then he turned around and she jerked her gaze up to meet his. Warmth surged over her skin and she was sure she was blushing. Still, with a backside like his he should be used to it. “You don’t have to do the dishes. You can leave them in the sink. I’ll do them tomorrow.”

“It is tomorrow. But I won’t argue about the dishes. It’s the only part of cooking I don’t like,” he said as she hopped off of her stool and joined him in the kitchen. She reached for the brown paper grocery bag he’d placed on the counter next to the stove and let out a surprised yelp when he cut in front of her and grabbed it first.

“What’s in the bag?” She set her hands on her hips, curious as to what he didn’t want her to see. “A secret ingredient you used in the crepes?”

“Maybe.” A hint of a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “Maybe not.”

“Color me curious.” She snatched the bag from his grasp, then, laughing at his dumbstruck expression, she stuck her hand inside and pulled out a box of condoms. “So this is why you had to stop at the store.” Grinning, she inspected the box and read the large script aloud. “Ribbed for her pleasure. What do you think that means?”

“I’m not really sure, but I think it means you…um…the woman gets more stimulation during…” He paused, then amusement flashed in his eyes. “Okay. I can see by that shit-eating grin you’re messing with me. And for your information the condoms aren’t the only reason I had to stop at the store. You said you didn’t have cream cheese, whipping cream, or berries. All of which I needed for the crepes.”

“Did you stop at the twenty-four-hour market on Bryant?”

He nodded. “Why?”

With a mischievous smile, she side-stepped around him and grabbed the tote bag she’d hung on an oversized metal hook on the end of the breakfast bar. “I was in and out before you got there,” she said as she pulled out three small boxes of condoms and set them on top of the counter along with his box. “I wasn’t sure what size to get so I bought regular, large, and extra-large. I’m sure the guy at the cash register thought I was on my way to an orgy.”

“You could have told him they make great water balloons.”

“And you’d know this how?” she asked, slipping the handles of the tote over the hook. She turned to find Rick leaning against the edge of the counter in front of the sink. She crossed the short space between them and in a quick move, braced her palms on the countertop and lifted herself up to sit on its smooth surface.

“When I was at UT a few of my buddies used to fill them with water and have water balloon fights. They’re actually pretty durable.” He chuckled. “They also make excellent balloon animals.”

“This is what you did in college?”

“I didn’t say I participated.”

“But you did.” She cocked her head and arched a brow at him. “Didn’t you?”

He pushed off the counter and moved to stand in front of her. “Maybe once or twice.”

“Will you make a condom balloon animal for me?”

“I made you crepes.” A smile crinkled the corners of his eyes. “Isn’t that enough?”


“Are you always this demanding?” he asked with a laugh.

“Only when I want something.”

Their smiles slowly faded. Rick lifted his hand and gently caressed her cheek. The pad of his thumb brushed over her lower lip and the desire she’d held in check since they’d kissed in the garage returned full force. He skimmed his fingers over her jaw, then to her neck. She sighed and tilted her head slightly to the side. “What do you want right now?” he asked in a low voice.


Author Bio:

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Alison now lives in Southern Nevada where she’s finally used to the blistering summers, but still finds the slot machines in grocery stores and gas stations rather odd.

When not working at the day job that pays the bills, keeps a roof over her head, and supports her book and chocolate habits, she spends most of her free time writing. But when she takes a break, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.

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