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Archive for ‘New Releases’


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‘Weekend at Wilderhope Manor’ Launches Today

Congratulations to Lucy Felthouse on the launch of her hot new story, Weekend at Wilderhope Manor. Here’s a steamy peek.

 

Blurb:

When Stephanie and Jenny go to a Murder Mystery Halloween weekend at Wilderhope Manor, they’re expecting fun and games. But following creaky floorboards, spooky noises and an alarming encounter in the Manor’s grounds, the girls begin to wonder if there’s more to Wilderhope Manor than meets the eye. As they find frequent comfort in one another’s arms – and their bed – will the girls discover what’s causing the bumps in the night, or will they run scared?

Excerpt:

The car trundled up the long driveway, the crunching of gravel beneath tyres the only sound as Stephanie and her girlfriend, Jenny, peered out of the windows at their surroundings.

Even at dusk the tree-lined driveway was impressive with perfectly maintained parkland, spanning for acres on either side of it. As Stephanie steered the Fiesta around a bend in the track, they both gasped. Their destination, Wilderhope Manor, had come into view and it was stunning. The Tudor style property was huge, with no less than three frontages visible from where they were. Chimneys with intricately built patterns jutted into the darkening sky, with tangles of ivy climbing parts of the manor, giving the place an appearance that was both beautiful and foreboding.

Presently, the driveway opened out into a gravelled area, which as far as Stephanie could tell, doubled as a car park for the weekend. Stephanie manoeuvred into a spot between two vehicles and killed the engine. As she turned to Jenny, she jumped, startled. Her girlfriend had leaned in close, making a scary face with her hands mimicking claws.

“Are you ready to be scared out of your wits, young lady?” Jenny rasped, wiggling her eyebrows and fingers theatrically.

Stephanie shoved her playfully, laughing. “Come on, you silly cow. It’s a murder mystery weekend, not a monster hunt. There will be no ghosts, ghouls or vampires involved.”

Stephanie got out of the car and closed the door. She’d already popped open the boot and started unloading their bags before Jenny appeared alongside her, pouting petulantly.

“But it’s Halloween tomorrow,” Jenny insisted. “Anything could happen. The veil between the living and dead will be at its thinnest, and this place is meant to be swarming with ghosts.”

“If you say so, sweetheart,” she replied, rolling her eyes. She was used to Jenny’s crazy beliefs by now. “Grab your bags and let’s get inside. It’s cold. You got the tickets?”

Jenny nodded, brandishing her handbag in response. Jenny picked up her overnight bag as Stephanie slammed the boot lid before locking the car, then followed her toward the grand entrance to Wilderhope Manor.

* * *

A little while later, they were installed in their room. They’d each been handed a “Welcome Pack” by the staff member who had attended to them at Reception, which consisted of their itinerary and instructions for the weekend.

As they unpacked, she voiced one of the thoughts that had run through her head. “Have you ever noticed how places never bat an eye at two girls sharing a room, and yet, if it’s two guys, they automatically assume they’re gay?”

“They’ll soon change their tune when they see your outfit for tonight!” Jenny replied, grinning cheekily at her. “It screams ‘lesbian’ with every stitch!”

“Whatever do you mean, you saucy wench? Someone with girl parts dressing as a distinguished gentleman does not a lesbian make.”

“True, but I wonder what it’ll do to you? Perhaps it’ll work in reverse and turn you straight!”

Buy Links:

http://summerhousepublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_book_info&cPath=23&products_id=84

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-weekendatwilderhopemanor-607598-140.html

http://www.bookstrand.com/weekend-at-wilderhope-manor

*****

Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story – so she did. It went down a storm and she’s never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Noble Romance, Ravenous Romance, Summerhouse Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour and Seducing the Myth. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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The Secret World of The Pet Shop

Less than two weeks now until turn my Pets loose on London! And though I might  have mentioned it once or twice in passing,  The big launch date for The Pet Shop is October 14th, 7:00 pm at Sh! Hoxton. And I won’t be throwing the party alone this year. Maxim Jakubowski will be partying with me as he launches his new erotic novel, Ekaterina and the Night.

Last week, I gave you a tour of tree-hugging, reclusive, richer than God Vincent Evaston’s world. This week it’s time to take a tour of the secret world of The Pet Shop, the place where Pets hang out when they’re not with keepers, and the place where Tino feels most at home.

First Impressions of The Pet Shop

Stella had no idea how long the journey had been nor where to. From the Pet carrier in the back of the van she could see nothing. But when she was helped from the cramped space, she could make out the shape of a large country house, a high brick wall, and lots of trees. The woman, whose name she learned was Audrey, fitted her with a simple leather collar, then snapped a lead into the attached D-ring.

 The Boss Takes Stella to Tino

The Boss led Stella out into the night, back along a narrow pavement, down a steep set of stairs and through a heavy wooden door.

Before she had a chance to get frightened, he flipped on a light switch, and a cavernous room emerged out of the shadow into details she failed to notice. Her whole attention was drawn to the pallet on the floor in the corner where Tino lay naked, blinking hard at the bright invasion on light-deprived pupils. He yawned and stretched and wiped sleep from his eyes. When he saw her, he came to his feet expectantly. As always, it was impossible for her not to notice his lovely penis, already at half mast and rising. He laid a hand against it, not like he was about to masturbate, more like he was taking the reins of a powerful animal.

The Boss chuckled softly. ‘I can almost hear your fear and anger, Stella, and I assure you there’s no need for either. This is where Tino sleeps whenever he’s here. Not sure why he prefers the dungeon to far more plush places a Pet of his status could sleep. Perhaps because he spends so much time down here anyway being punished for bad behaviour, and I assure you, he gets far less than he deserves. He unhooked the leash and nodded toward the big Pet. ‘Go on. If the two of you were magnets it would be easier to keep him from you.’

It was all she could do to keep from crying out his name as he scooped her into his arms. Any further slippage of speech was stopped by Tino’s insistent mouth startling in its familiarity. Her throat tightened and her eyes welled, as he took her face between large hands and kissed her repeatedly, ravenously, as though he would never stop. But when he did, it was because they had both become once again aware that the Boss was still standing there, arms folded across his chest, watching.

Discussing Stella’s Future

They were walking along a path that offered lovely strolls through a woodland of predominantly beech that surrounded the Pet Shop. It offered privacy for the Pet Shop as well as privacy for the Pets who wanted to have a little space away from the group activities. Alan brought Vincent here partly because he knew no one would appreciate it more, but mostly because he wanted to keep their meeting a secret.

It was a lovely day and any other time, Vincent being who he was, would be lost in deep appreciation for the chorus of bird song and the variegated blanket of woodland flowers. Alan knew only too well that his distraction wasn’t a good sign. He figured he might as well press the issue and end the suspense. He forced a chuckle. ‘Anne’s worried that you’ll tell Stella about your relationship to the Pet Shop.’ It was a lie, but he couldn’t very well say what Anne really feared, what he feared.

‘Why would I do that?’

‘Oh, I’m sure you wouldn’t,’ Alan waved away a couple of gnats.  ‘But you’ve got to understand, Anne’s dreamed about opening the North American Pet Shop for a long time. She just doesn’t want anything to go wrong. And frankly, you showing up unexpectedly here of all places makes me a bit nervous too, Vincent.’ There it was, honesty at last, and suddenly Alan felt like the friend he used to be.

Vincent turned to face him, and offered that half-smile that always put people at ease. Well most of the time anyway. He rested a large hand against an ancient beech tree, and in spite of everything, Alan’s cock squirmed in his trousers with other memories more recent, more complicated than watching hawks quarter the fields, but any thought of arousal fled when Vincent spoke. ‘Alan, I know I promised Anne the North American Pet Shop, and that’s a promise I have no intention of breaking, but I don’t want Stella running the Pet Shop here. You’ll have to find someone else.’

Next week I’ll be giving you a peek of the London that Stella shares with Tino.

 

 

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At Home with Vincent

I’m getting excited now! It’s almost time to turn my Pets loose on London!  The big launch date for The Pet Shop is October 14th, 7:00 pm at Sh! Hoxton. And I won’t be throwing the party alone this year. Maxim Jakubowski will be partying with me as he launches his new erotic novel, Ekaterina and the Night.

For the next three weeks, I’ll be bringing you a little closer to the world of my Pets, so you can be ready to party with us. I’ll be giving little excerpts and tidbits along with pictures from my research of this transcontinental novel. Since I just got back from Oregon, I’ll start off by giving you a sneak peek at the world of Vincent Evanston, reclusive philanthropist and tree-hugger extraordinaire. Vincent lives in Oregon, and in spite of being richer than God, no one is really sure whether he’s real or just a legend.

 

The Business Trip

It wasn’t Stella’s first time in the States or the Northwest. She considered it a very good omen that her first trip for Strigida was to such a lovely place. In a lot of ways, the Western part of Oregon was like a primordial England that had been picked up by each of its corners and stretched and tugged and expanded. Then after it had been given a hearty shake to rid it of too many people, it was snapped like a puzzle piece in between Washington and California to glisten in the veil dance of wet Northwest sunlight.

 

First Encounter with Vincent

‘The clear-cut will grow back on its own given time,’ Bob was saying as he pulled the Land Rover to the edge of the rutted excuse for a logging road and stopped so she could look. ‘Erosion is our main concern here.’ He nodded to the dark patch of heavy forest next to it. Tall conifers drapes in moss and spiked with mistletoe looked like giant, pre-decorated Christmas trees. ‘That patch would have met the same fate had it not been for Vincent Evanston.’

If Bob hadn’t before, he certainly had her full attention now. ‘Vincent Evanston? You know him?’

‘Yep.’ He laughed under his heavy mustache. ‘Always preferred to spend his time with the birds and the beasties rather than with humans. Guess I’m a bit like that too, but then I wasn’t born richer than God like Vincent. He’s a strange one.’

‘Then he lives around here?’

‘Has all his life. Right on the other side of those trees there. Speak of the devil.’ Bob raised the pair of binoculars that permanently hung around his neck, then gave a confident nod. ‘That’s the Birdman there. He spends a lot of time in these woods when he’s home.’

She fumbled with the spare pair of binoculars Vanguard had lent her, giving herself a hearty knock on the nose before she managed to get them focused. Her stomach did a flip-flop, then a pirouette. Even with her unsteady hand and the thud-thud of her heart making the scene tremble in front of her eyes, she knew she was looking at Tino, who was looking right back at her. She caught her breath ‘You’re sure that’s Vincent Evanston?’

 

Journey to Vincent’s House

This time there was no limo waiting and no driver. But the sexiest blue Jeep she had ever seen was parked waiting for them on the tarmac. The top was off exposing an elegant roll bar and frame to the early evening sun. Vincent helped her into a leather jacket, buckled her into the Jeep, then climbed into the driver’s seat. ‘I wanted you to enjoy the lovely scenery, Stell,’ he said, as he cranked the engine and they headed away from the airport. ‘I seldom use the limo, and besides Pets much prefer fresh air over stuffy old cars, don’t they?’ He spoke like he knew, she thought. And yet of course Vincent Evanston would prefer the great outdoors.

They left the city and headed out over the Coastal Range on a bumpy scenic back road.  Vincent chatted away about the volcanic make-up of the Pacific Northwest, and the unique eco systems that had developed because of the volcanism of the region. And indeed it was fascinating to know that the area was long overdue for an eruption in the Cascades, and that Mt. St. Helen’s eruption in 1980 might have just been the tip of the iceberg.

‘It’s one of the prettiest places on the planet,’ he was saying, as he pulled to the side of the deserted road. ‘And I’m looking forward to showing you some of my favourite parts of it.’

 

The Lookout

The Lookout, which was what Vincent affectionately called the big cantilevered house that was mostly glass and wood was set high enough to view the Pacific Ocean in one direction while nestling in the arms of the hilly woodland in the other. Once inside, he led her across pale sandstone floors of what was mostly an open planned house, back to a big bedroom with its glassed-in patio that led down to a protected wild garden below. The big high bed looked out over the landscape of conifers and rugged volcanic rocks and gave the distinct feeling of being in a tree house.

Her intake of breath at the view made him blush with pride. ‘My room,’ he said. ‘Our room while you’re here.’ He held her gaze. ‘If you’re good, I’ll let you sleep in the bed with me.’

Now it was her turn to blush.

He nodded to the hardwood floor. ‘Sit down and let me get you undressed. You’ve had an uncomfortably long time in those clothes, and I want to look at you. I would have loved to have made you ride naked in the Jeep. Since I first met you, that thought has given me my share of hard-ons. But alas that might have gotten us arrested. And I don’t intend to spend our time together in jail.’

She sat down on the cool wood of the floor and let him lift her arms over her head and slip the T-shirt up, hands skimming her breasts as he did so.

 

Vincent’s Passion

‘Their nest is behind that waterfall.’ Vincent nodded to the cascade of water that the little dark bird had just darted through. ‘Dippers often find protected places behind waterfalls to raise their chicks safe from predators. The chicks should be about to fledge any time now. I’d love it if you could see that. It’s so amazing to see them for the first time after knowing they were tucked away all safe and sound just waiting to spread their wings and fly.’

He sat with Stella’s feet across his lap and was busy removing the hiking boots he’d bought for her to check for blisters. ‘You okay, Stel? I know it’s quite a little hike to get up here, but it’s such a lovely place.’

She nodded and wriggled her toes happily. She’d never felt more blissed out.

‘You like it here?’ He asked, knowing she couldn’t answer. The best she could do was smile enthusiastically and rub her bare foot along his thigh.

He curled his fingers around her foot and lifted it to his lips, pressing a kiss to the arch of it. ‘I knew you would. How could you not?’

She lay back on the large rock he had found for them and let the sun’s warmth wash over her. She could feel his eyes on her, and that was warmer than the sunlight. That made her feel deliciously sexy, even more than sexy, it made her feel adored. She knew she was smiling. She could feel it. He watched her when he thought she wasn’t looking, and she watched him. She didn’t care if he was looking or not. She was a Pet. The rules didn’t apply to her. Sometimes that was a good thing.

 

After the Punishment

The cocktail of feelings rushing through her dwarfed the pain of the spanking. She fucked him with anger and shame and lust and hurt and pain and need and other things she had no name for. And he took it, all of it, and when she passed the point of no return and shuddered as though she would break apart into a thousand tiny pieces, he came in tremors that shook the bed, that shook his body, that shook her to the core, then he pulled her down against his chest and smothered her face and throat and shoulders in breathless hungry kisses.

They never did get around to a real meal, but it didn’t much matter. Sometime in the hours before dawn, she woke to find him standing naked in front of the sliding window and she thought how beautiful he was standing there bathed in moonlight, but the thought barely surfaced above consciousness before she slept again.

 

Next week I’ll be giving you a peek at Tino’s England and the mysterious grounds of The Pet Shop.

 

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Tina Donahue Takes Us Away

I’d like to welcome the lovely Tina Donahue to  A Hopeful Romantic today. Tina  is going to give us a sneak preview of her hot new novel, Take Me Away. And just to celebrate that release, she’s offering a juicy giveaway too good to miss out on. Tina, do tell!

 

Don’t you love the beginning pages of a romance when the hero and heroine first meet? Their smoldering stares, their first words as they size up each other?

I do. That’s one of the parts I like to write most. When neither character quite knows where this might be heading…they just know where they would like it to go.

Usually during these encounters, we – the readers – get to know the characters better, to fall in love with them as they begin the journey of falling in love with each other.

In Take Me Away, my newest erotic romance, Kyle’s reluctant to let Lexi stay at his cabin, while she sees it as her only means to avoid the hounding press. Their first moments alone are telling for what they both think and want.

Here’s a blurb and an excerpt to show you what I mean.

Blurb:

She’s everything he escaped…and all that he desires

Three years ago, Kyle turned his back on a pro-football career and being the target of tabloids or gold-digging groupies. Craving privacy, he gets it at his roadhouse in Northern California until Lexi Sands invades his life. Indulged and surely phony, she’s exactly what Kyle fled.

An actress since childhood, Lexi’s fresh out of an anger management program, court-ordered when she lashed out at a badgering paparazzo. Weary of the press’s harsh scrutiny, she sees Kyle’s secluded cabin as the ideal place to hide out and him as a damn-near perfect alpha male. Deliciously virile. Protective. Principled. She offers him serious cash to let her stay for two weeks, assuring there will be no complications or touching.

Yeah, right. Passion flares, along with tenderness. Kyle recognizes how lonely Lexi really is, while she’s falling hard. Through intimate days and impassioned nights, they explore their most shameless needs, until a cruel betrayal exposes their growing love, forcing a choice neither anticipated.

Excerpt:

Lexi caught his scent, more pronounced this time, delivering a hint of musk. Something needed and desired coiled within her, despite the fact that they’d just met.

A moment passed. Papers rustled as though he was moving or reading them, keeping himself busy, avoiding the inevitable, turning her down.

Lexi’s longing remained even as reality kicked in. Fiona’s plan to help her hide out had been kind, but unreasonable. At least for Kyle. He had a life he enjoyed. He didn’t want her presence and celebrity to screw it up.

Steeling herself for the worst, she opened her eyes.

He was leaning against the edge of his desk, arms folded over his broad chest, feet crossed at the ankles, his gaze on her.

A pulse beat crazily in Lexi’s throat. The sound of her thrumming heart drowned out the puppy’s thin whines and the muffled noise coming from the bar. She expected Kyle to look away as he had in there. He did not. Once more, interest flashed in his eyes – or at least she thought it did.

Remember, her counselor had said, what you want isn’t always what a person is willing to give.

Tell her something she didn’t know. For as long as Lexi could remember, she’d wanted a home life like other kids had. Parents that adored her because she was their child, not for the income she could bring in.

Even after all these years, the truth still wounded. Refusing to let it defeat her, she made her voice light. “So when did you?”

Kyle’s expression went from intent to confused. “When did I what?”

She smiled at the puppy licking her fingers. “Get Baby here.”

His gaze dropped to the dog, then returned to her. “Buddy.”

“Right. Buddy Baby,” she amended.

Kyle laughed.

Pride and contentment rippled through Lexi for having caused it. For having brought back those killer dimples. God, how she enjoyed seeing them and listening to his laughter. So easy and free. So intimate.

A kiss, a fuck, couldn’t compete with a man and a woman sharing a laugh. That’s what bonded two souls. Joy. Happiness. Friendship. Not mere lust.

A second ago, she’d been willing to leave without a goodbye. Now, she wanted to stay, even though she knew Kyle would never like her as deeply as she required. Lexi saw it on his face, in the way his laughter wound down and his dimples disappeared.

Didn’t matter. For a few days, no more than two weeks, she longed to be around a man who couldn’t care less about her fame, who didn’t want to use it to further his own interests. She ached to get away from the craziness, the pain, the loneliness of her world.

“Before you say no, I’m willing to offer five thousand dollars.”

His brows shot up. “Pete said three.”

She was being too needy. Something else her counselor had warned her about. “Okay then, three.” She smiled. “Are you always this easy to negotiate with?”

Kyle’s gaze settled on her smile. His expression became heated, all male.

This time, Lexi knew she wasn’t imagining it. He did find her interesting. The real Lexi, not the tramp she looked like tonight or the Hollywood invention. She saw that truth in his eyes. Excitement raced through her, but she kept it from her voice. “I won’t be in your way at all. I’ll stay in my own room. I’ll only leave it when you’re here or wherever else you may go. I’ll amuse myself outside.”

His gaze turned inward as though he were trying to imagine such a thing. Whatever his thoughts conjured up, pleasure relaxed his features.

Now she had him. “I’ll even take care of Baby for you. I’ll act as his sitter.”

A smile tugged at the corner of Kyle’s mouth. Not enough to make dimples, but surely enough to arouse. “Buddy,” he corrected.

“Sorry. I forgot. Buddy Baby.” Giving the puppy a kiss on his snout, she lowered him to the floor, pushed to her feet and advanced.

Smile fading, Kyle watched.

At his office chair, Lexi stopped. With her right foot on the seat, she slipped her hand into her boot.

Kyle stared at her naked thigh. Her skirt was so short the damn thing practically exposed her ass. From his vantage point, he could see she wasn’t wearing regular panties. Whether she had on a thong was debatable.

His mouth went dry. He pulled in a deep breath, which rewarded him with her alluring rose scent.

I won’t be in your way at all, she’d said. I’ll amuse myself outside.

With those words, he’d pictured the creek behind his cabin. Lexi shedding her clothes and boots on the bank. Sunlight caressing her nudity. The water swirling around her sleek thighs, dampening her bush, licking her cunt. Beads of moisture clinging to the soft swells of her breasts, dripping off the tips of her nipples.

A groan of pleasure and frustration bubbled up. Kyle fought it, remaining silent, not daring to ask what in the fuck she was doing. Adjusting her sock? Removing a rock that had somehow gotten into her boot and was hurting her foot?

His guesses weren’t close to correct.

She pulled out a wad of hundred dollar bills.

In the coming moments, they learn quite a lot about each other, which stokes their interest and passion.

Take Me Away is Available Now!

Buy Link: http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9333-take-me-away.aspx

Email: tina@tinadonahue.com
Website/blog: www.tinadonahue.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/tinadonahue
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000458023097

To celebrate the release of Take Me Away, I’m offering a contest today. One lucky commenter will have her choice of one of my following ebooks**:

1. Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
2. Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
3. Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
4. In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
5. Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT

** Winner chosen at random.

 

Thanks for stopping by, Tina. Take Me Away sounds hotter than hot! And personally, I don’t know how the lucky winner is ever going to choose between these delicious offerings!

 

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Zombies, Threesomes, and Charlotte Stein’s New Novel, Reawakening

I’m elated to have one of my very favourite erotic novelists as my guest this week. The Mighty Charlotte Stein is here to tell us the story behind the story of her sexy, scary, exciting new novel, Reawakening. Welcome, Charlotte!

 

Reawakening started with 28 Days Later. In fact, every zombie based thing I write, dream or think about started with 28 Days Later.

Yep, I’m that sort of zombie fan. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love the original George Romero movies. I really do. I think there’s room in this world for fast moving zombies and slow moving zombies – though hopefully not literally.

But there’s just something about the speedy, furious, ravenous zombies in 28 Days Later that gets to me. It had a visceral impact on me, that movie, and ever since watching it I’ve spent serious time imagining what the world would be like after a disease of that nature took hold.

Which is how Reawakening came to be.

Of course, there are other contributing factors. Like with most books, I usually start with a scenario and a hero (or heroes), and this book was no exception. At the time of writing I was pretty much obsessed with the new A-Team movie – not because it’s any good, but because Sharlto Copley and Bradley Cooper are so gorgeous and charismatic as Face and Murdock that they kind of warped my brain.

Which is probably a terrible way to describe the writing process, but it’s true. My brain was warped by the A-Team and zombie movies, and then I just had to write Reawakening. Of course, I’m sure there were other contributing factors, here. Important, writerly stuff like:

My muse spoke to me in honeyed tones and I couldn’t not eat nor sleep until I had committed the words to paper.

Or perhaps:

My tortured artist’s soul forced me to eke out each word in a pen filled with my own blood.

But really, if I’m being honest, my urge to write has and always will stem from my love of men, of relationships, of crazy scenarios I can never experience myself. I want to smell and taste and touch the zombie apocalypse. Even though it’s gross and probably flavoured with rotted limb.

And more importantly I want to smell and taste and touch Jamie and Blake, who are not flavoured with rotted limb. They are gorgeous and sexy and they bring my heroine back to life, through the magical wonder of threesomes.

What more could a girl ask, from the men in her life?

Blurb:

June has spent the last two years of her life trying to avoid death at the hands of murderous psychopaths and ravening zombies. So when Jamie turns up on the scene, careless, still whole and promising her safety on a little paradise island, she isn’t quite sure she can trust him. Especially when he tells her that it’s just him, and his equally big, burly, handsome friend Blake.

But Jamie and Blake are even better than her wildest dreams—sweet and funny and charming. And worst of all: sexy as hell. Though they’re trying to be gentlemanly with her, all she can think about is how much she wants to get tangled up in them, and forget the nightmare the world has become. She’s waiting for her reawakening—back to life and happiness and love.

And they seem like just the right sort of men to wake her—body and soul.

Excerpt:

All June could think was—Kelsey is dead, Kelsey is dead, Kelsey is dead—while the image of the ravening hordes feasting on Kelsey’s body played behind her eyes. She tried to shut it off, keep it down, keep running before they got to her, but Kelsey’s blood was still wet and all over her right arm.

And if Jamie hadn’t shot Kelsey—right as she was still screaming, and begging for help—she’d be one of them, now. That’s what happened. Once they bit you or bled on you or hell, spat on you, you had maybe thirty seconds.

Before you turned.

She needed to stop, just stop for a second. Lean against something and catch her breath. But Jamie had somehow led them into this building and he just kept running and running—only up instead of out.

June didn’t even know if Jamie was really his name, or if he was leading them right into a dead end. But he kept going, none-the-less.
She could hear the hordes, busting through the door below. He’d barred it, but they were coming in anyway, to this place that was an almost total deathtrap. The staircase was narrow and blanketed in darkness, one winding section after the next. Even if she dared to pause and look over the railing, she wouldn’t be able to see them until they were almost on her.

“Jamie, wait!” she shouted, but not because things would be easier if he had hold of her hand or was there to comfort her in this dire hour of need. She’d made it this far, on her own.

Or at least, she’d made it this far, with Kelsey.

No, it was just that—if he kept going, eventually they’d be trapped, on the roof. And she couldn’t have that. That was one of her and Kelsey’s rules—don’t run to someplace with only one exit.

Only it was just her rule, now. This guy, this Jamie…he didn’t seem to have any rules. He’d decided to run to the roof of a twenty story building then potentially wait outside until the hordes pushed through a probably very flimsy fire door.

Kelsey had said to her. She had said—wait. He’s as crazy as they are. A safe island? He’s nuts. We can’t go with him. He’s probably an insane apocalypse rapist.

And she’d been right, God help her. Maybe not about the insane apocalypse rapist part, but even so and besides—there was still time for that. He could be anyone, be into anything. He could have planned this all along…Kelsey’s death, the run to the roof…hell, maybe he had a whole party of insane assholes up there, just waiting to do horrible things to her.

Even if that was as nuts as he now seemed. Why would he trap himself on the roof, just to have a little fun with her? Nothing in her head was functioning in quite the way it should. Connections had been lost. Wiring had come loose.

She still called out to him again, when they got to the level before the last one. Her voice came out hoarse and breathless, burning lungs making everything difficult, Kelsey in her mind making everything worse. But somehow the words emerged.

“Jamie, stop. Take the nineteenth floor exit, okay—we can go back down on the other side of the building—answer me, fuck!”
He did, then. She heard him call out over her own shrieking breaths, the pounding of her sneakers on stone, and the sounds of the once-were-people below, slathering and barking like animals.

There were two cracks, like he’d fired her gun into the stairwell. Though she couldn’t see where he was shooting or at what. Then—
“Just keep following me, June-bug—come on!”

Only it sounded more like come own, because of the Texan twang Kelsey had sworn up and down was fake. And he’d called her June-bug again, because he was crazy, he was crazy, oh dear Lord he was probably leading them to their deaths.

This was all just some final mad hurrah. He was suicidal, and this was how he wanted to go out. Death by stairs or death by zombies—because they were zombies, no matter how much she tried to pretend otherwise—or even worse, death by roof.

Was that what he was going to do? Hurl himself off? Plummet to his untimely end? She didn’t know. All she could really think about was how close the first ravening cannibal was getting, and how unfit she really was. She’d started believing all the cardio was really beginning to pay off, but as it turned out, eighteen flights of stairs and she was out for the count. Her heart clawed at her ribcage. Her thigh muscles screamed and screamed.

While her zombie pals kept coming and coming, as though the stairs were nothing, really. Why, leaping up eighteen flights was like a morning stroll to them! They could have climbed these stairs forever and still had the wherewithal to eat her innards, once they got their claw-like hands on her.

She hit the fire door to the roof just as one of said claw-like hands brushed the back of her shirt.

It made everything inside her leap, including the heart she’d thought had escaped. Whenever they got really close—that was when you realized just how terrible they were. How awful the world had become. How much it wasn’t like a movie at all, but like a constant and unbearable pressure against your sanity, always threatening to make you go over.

She felt like going over, when the door wouldn’t close on them. For a second of pushing and heaving with their hands coming through and all over her, her mind tried to fly away. It told her to start screaming uncontrollably, while clawing at herself—that doing so would really be her best bet. No more running constantly. No more pain over Kelsey—and before Kelsey, Joanne and Pat and the old lady whose name she never learned.

Just peace, finally. One moment of agony, then peace.

Only it wouldn’t be, would it? No, it wouldn’t be. If she stopped pushing at the door and jamming it at them and just God, let the door snap their arms, let it crush them, let it kill them all forever, if she stopped…they’d turn her into one of them. And no matter how much she tried to let it hurt her that Jamie had pointed the gun and shot Kelsey between the eyes, it didn’t. It couldn’t.

Being one of them was worse. After all, it could have been that they’d caught a disease. It might have been that they were infected with something—like in 28 Days Later, rather than Night of the Living Dead. But part of her wondered whenever she stared into their hollow, ink-black eyes, if they’d simply lost their souls.

He looked like it. The one who’d managed to squeeze his mottled face into the crack she was struggling to close in the door. He had no pupils, no irises, no whites to his eyes. It was all just blackness, empty and weirdly unseeing, as though they operated on no more than a bloodlust now. Like upright land sharks roaming the land, blindly searching out prey.

She wrenched the door from him for just an instant then smashed it back into his face. It was a risky move, but oh so worth it. Worth it for the satisfaction, worth it for Kelsey, worth it for everything these things had taken from everyone. People’s souls hadn’t left. These things had stolen them.

And when it slithered away and the door quite abruptly shut, the idea didn’t go with it. It stayed, and festered—so much so that she wanted to open the door for one mad moment, just to smash it back in their faces again, and again, and again.

She wanted to, but Jamie was calling to her. And other sounds were starting to flood through her now, too, other big, big sounds that she should have noticed ages ago.

At first she thought it was some kind of weapon. That he’d found a chainsaw or a pneumatic drill or a wood chipper. Something he’d known was up here all along for them to use against the enemy.

But then the wind whipped up and she turned to see something far more incredible than a zombie eating wood chipper. It was so incredible that she forgot the zombies battering on the fire door, for a second. They’d bust through it soon enough because although they couldn’t figure out handles, the sheer pressure of them would figure out the release bar.

Though it didn’t seem to matter. For the first time in these two years of hell, it didn’t matter. She found herself laughing out loud, high and probably hysterical.

Jamie had only gone and gotten himself a helicopter. And not only that, but he apparently knew how to fly a helicopter. The rotors were going. They were kicking up the fine gravel that lined the roof of whatever building this was, and he was yelling to her—
“Come on, June-bug, get your ass in here!”

She thought of him talking about the island. About his buddy who was waiting for them. How they’d just wanted to find survivors, and populate their safe haven, and how crazy that had sounded when he first started yakking about it.

Then she ran to him.

Links:

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-reawakening-550153-140.html

http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8/318-201-107-490-1–reawakening-forever-dead-series-book-one-by-charlotte-stein.html

My Blog:

http://www.themightycharlottestein.blogspot.com/

 

Thanks so much for stopping by, and sharing some of the good stuff, Charlotte! Zombies and threesomes really rock!

 

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