New Release & Giveaway: Doppelganger by Camille Taylor

Doppelganger
Camille Taylor
(Harbour Bay Series, #4)
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication date: June 21st 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

A new killer has descended on Harbour Bay, and he’s already killed five women…

Bestselling author Megan Bailey is devastated when her young cousin Stacey goes missing. She’s been watching the news and knows what this might mean. Stacey could be the newest victim of Harbour Bay’s newest serial killer. Megan is determined to do something, and enlists the help of her friend, the superintendent of police, Amelia Donovan.

Amelia has her best detective on the case…Dean Matthews.

Dean doesn’t believe in love. It makes men weak and vulnerable, and as a retired soldier, he’s experienced enough heartache to last several lifetimes. He also has difficulty dealing with emotional women. So when he shows up to interview Megan at the request of his boss, he isn’t exactly looking forward to it. Except Megan isn’t what he expected.

Megan is intelligent, witty, and not to mention, beautiful. Dean tries to maintain a professional distance, but with a killer on the loose, he breaks all his rules and gets involved. He offers Megan comfort and promises he might not be able to keep.

The body count continues to rise and Dean’s leads are empty as ever…

When Megan disappears too, Dean knows his time to solve this case is up. He must unravel the twisted web of clues the killer has left behind or risk the one woman who might finally teach him to love again.

Goodreads / Amazon

Previous books in the series:

NotForgotten Open Wounds by Camille Taylor DeadDontLie

**Grab book 3 for FREE on June 24th!*

EXCERPT:

A pair of startling green eyes caught his and Dean felt like he’d been kicked in the gut. His heart thumped heavily in his chest as little pin-pricks of awareness washed over him and he found he had trouble breathing. His muscles tensed even as his body hardened and began to throb painfully. He bit back a curse. He’d never had such a reaction to a woman before in his life.

Her gaze flicked between him and Nick as he brought up his I.D. and made the introductions. The woman nodded and stepped back, allowing them to enter. She closed the door firmly and turned to face them, her expression fraught with worry.

“I know who you are. I just got off the phone with Amelia. She told me you’d be coming,” she said, twisting her fingers together anxiously. When she caught him watching, she stuffed her hands into her snug jeans. “I’m Megan Bailey.”

He gave her a slow onceover, unable to help himself. He was curious about this woman and the overwhelming desire he had for her. The entire world seemed to melt away until all that was left was her.

She was beautiful in an understated way with a honey complexion and a small dusting of freckles on the bridge of her nose. Rich mahogany hair had been pulled back into a messy ponytail. She wasn’t overly tall, the top of her head only reaching his shoulders, but she was nicely filled out with curves in all the right places, her breasts high and full beneath her shirt, which clung to her like a second skin revealing her tucked in waist and the flare of her hips. He swallowed hard, his mouth suddenly dry.

As if sensing his perusal, Megan glanced over at him and his knees weakened. Her eyes—those gorgeous emerald pools—pulled at him, so full of torment that his heart ached. Shit, this was crazy and so unlike him.

She blinked and he heard her sharp exhale, her mouth parted, and she looked so irresistible that he was sorely tempted to cross the short distance between them and find out if she tasted as good as she looked. He was at a loss, unable to pull away as she continued to stare at him. Was she feeling as out of control as him?

He forced himself back on track. He was here to work a case, not look for his next bed partner, and while Megan was quite delectable, she would hardly do. She wasn’t the type of woman a man fooled around with unless he had forever in his mind, and Dean Matthews didn’t do forever. No matter what his body was telling him.

He certainly wasn’t sex-starved, although it had been a while since he had hit the sheets with a woman. The case was taking up all his time, and he couldn’t think of anything else even when he had a rare moment alone to sleep. It was disconcerting and he wasn’t sure he liked it, bringing about feelings he’d long ago rejected.

 

Author Bio:

Camille Taylor is an Australian author who resides in the Nation’s Capital with her small dog. She was the typical 90’s kid and was raised on Goosebumps, Roald Dahl and Paul Jennings. In her teens she began reading the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie and in later years found Christine Feehan, Janet Evanovich and Julie Garwood.

She started writing at sixteen and enjoys spending time with her family, doting on her nieces and nephews, writing the many stories floating about her head and working on her genealogy where she can trace her heritage to England, Scotland, Ireland and Russia.

Her other interests include, anything creative – such as scrapbooking and drawing and has travelled across Western Europe, New Zealand and the UAE, after spending a year living in London. She’s also dabbled in tae kwon do.

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway!!! Hideaway by Penelope Douglas

 

 

Title: Hideaway

Series: Devil’s Night Series

Genre: Erotic Suspense

Author: Penelope Douglas

Release Date: TBD – 2017

 

Synopsis:
COMING in 2017, HIDEAWAY is the second installment in the Devil’s Night Series! If you’ve read CORRUPT, this is Kai’s story.

Banks

You don’t even see me, do you, Kai Mori? No one does.

I’m the kid in the back, the one everyone dismisses, the no-life street punk with dirty finger nails and ripped jeans.

But I’m quiet, and I do my job. I can hang tough and no one does me any favors. I’ve always been on my own.

But then I see you…

Your perfect black suits. Your clean hands. The way you charge into the room, not afraid of the man I work for, and all of a sudden, I feel different.

Like maybe I want to know what you’re like with a woman.

As quickly as the urge comes, though, it disappears. You see, my boss has an agenda. He’s decided to put me in your path, but what he doesn’t realize is, I have plans of my own. A score to settle.

And you won’t know who I really am until it’s too late.

So sit tight. I’m coming to you.

Kai

You’re wrong. I’ve seen you before.

You’re the girl who looks like a fourteen year old boy and pretends everyone around her is public enemy #1. Yeah, I remember you.

Thunder Bay. Devil’s Night. Four years ago.

But the thing was…when your hat fell off that night, you looked nothing like a boy. And when I put my hands on you, you didn’t feel like one, either.

Now, after all this time, you’re in Meridian City, and while I don’t know who you are or want you want, I can’t wait to find out.

So come on. Door’s unlocked.

Just be warned, though…Devil’s Night is coming again, and I’m not alone this time.

My friends like to play, too.

Note from the Author: HIDEAWAY still has no definite release date. Erotic suspense takes longer for me to write, and while I hate to keep anyone waiting, I know you’d rather have a good book than a quick one. Bear with me. Getting this book to you is a priority. xoxo.

 

Buy Corrupt, Book 1

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About The Author:
Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She dresses for autumn year round, loves anything lemon flavored, and shops at Target almost daily.

Her books include the Fall Away Series (Bully, Until You, Rival, Falling Away, and Aflame), as well as, Corrupt and Misconduct. Please look for Punk 57, coming September 2016 and Next to Never (A Fall Away Novella), coming January 2017.

She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter.

Follow Her Here:

Website,
Facebook,
Twitter,
Goodreads,
Instagram,
Pinterest

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New Release & Giveaway: Mirror Image by Michele Pariza Wacek

Mirror Image
Michele Pariza Wacek
Publication date: May 27th 2016
Genres: Adult, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Which would be worse, knowing that your dead sister has come back to life and is now a serial killer or that someone else is the killer….and that person is you?

Six months after Linda’s sister Elizabeth killed herself, Linda has finally gotten her life back to some semblance of normalcy. Until a killer appears who is stalking men … a killer who resembles Elizabeth … a killer who seems somehow familiar to Linda.

And, to make matters worse, Steve, her old high school crush and now a detective, is assigned to this case. He’s asking Linda all sorts of questions, questions Linda couldn’t possibly have an answer to.

There’s no reason for him to be investigating Linda. She couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this.

Could she?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

hen Elizabeth was born, her mother knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hospital had made a mistake.

It had been a difficult pregnancy. Marie spent most of it in bed, nauseated, uncomfortable, exhausted. She barely kept anything down, subsisting mostly on tea and saltine crackers. When the time came to deliver, the doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section, so she wasn’t able to actually watch the birth.

She couldn’t explain it, but the first time the nurses presented her with Elizabeth, she refused to even hold the baby. “There must be some mistake,” she insisted.

“There’s no mistake,” the nurses said, their approach firm and no-nonsense.

Blond and pale, Elizabeth looked nothing like the other dark haired members of the family. But it was more than that. Elizabeth felt wrong. Marie sensed it every single time she looked at Elizabeth, touched Elizabeth, smelled Elizabeth. The baby was alien to her. Elizabeth was not her baby.

But she could do nothing about it. Her husband hadn’t seen the birth. He had refused to attend any of his children’s births. The nurses kept assuring her that no one had made, could possibly have made, a mistake. So Marie had little choice but to bring her home.

Elizabeth was different, always — strange. Marie hated to use that word about any of her children, especially her youngest, but she could find no other word to describe her. Elizabeth was strange. Period.

From birth, the baby kept quiet. Rarely fussed. Hardly cried. She started talking at six months, much earlier than the rest of her children, and started forming full sentences at just over a year old.

She spent most of her time alone or, once she learned how, reading. In fact, Elizabeth remained such a quiet child, Marie could easily forget about her. It made her nervous. Elizabeth was too quiet.

Even her scent was all wrong. Babies smelled warm and sweet, of milk and talcum powder. Elizabeth’s scent reminded her of meat just beginning to

spoil: thick and rotten.

But there was something else wrong with Elizabeth, something more serious than her near silence, her behavior, her scent. Even more serious than that alien feeling, which Marie had tried to dismiss as simple post-partum depression, although it never did go away entirely.

When Marie was really being honest with herself, which didn’t happen often, she could admit what really disturbed her most about her daughter.

Her eyes. Elizabeth had silver eyes.

Not always. Most of the time they looked gray. But sometimes, they changed to silver. Occasionally, Marie even thought she could see them glowing, like a cat’s. Especially at night. There Elizabeth would be, lying on her back, perfectly quiet in her crib, her eyes strangely open, shining faintly in the darkness. Marie would tell herself that Elizabeth’s eyes merely reflected the nightlight in a bizarre fashion. After all, none of her other children’s eyes ever glowed. But it still didn’t make her any easier to face, late at night, as silver eyes stared at her from the darkness. They seemed so old, so ancient. Eyes that had seen thousands of years and hundreds of lifetimes. Those eyes peered out from her newborn’s face, watching her every move, strangely calculating, full of adult understanding and knowledge. She felt afraid, if she were being honest … all alone in the room with those peculiar silver eyes watching, watching, always watching.

Nonsense, she reassured herself. Surely, she could not be afraid of her own infant daughter! What would her husband say? Plenty probably, and most of it with his fists.

Still, she found herself checking on Elizabeth less and less. She argued with herself: Elizabeth didn’t fuss much anyway. Marie didn’t need to check on her so often — not like she did with her other, noisy, “normal” babies.

Her other children. Such a joy they were, her four boys and other girl — Peter, Mark, Mike, Chad and Linda. All healthy, regular children, with coarse dark hair, brown eyes and a little bit of baby fat on their bones. They looked the way children should look, the way her children should look, like their parents. But more importantly, they acted the way children should act — loud, boisterous, rough, needy. Marie loved them for it, loved how she couldn’t get a moment’s peace when they played together. Even when their play turned to fighting, she still preferred it to Elizabeth’s silent, eerie presence.

But Marie loved Elizabeth, too. Loved her fiercely, with the same passion she felt for her other children. Marie knew she did. She told herself she did, time and time again. The fact that she felt relief when Elizabeth wasn’t around meant nothing. She just needed time away from her children, after all. Almost all mothers welcomed the time they had away from their constant, children-related responsibilities. It didn’t mean she loved them any less. It didn’t mean anything at all.

 

Author Bio:

When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly.

As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life. She became a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional materials for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.

Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (in fact, she just published her first novel, a psychological thriller/suspense/mystery called “The Stolen Twin” and her second novel “Mirror Image'” is set to be published in May 2016) plus, she is also the author of the “Love-Based Copy” books, which are a part of the “Love-Based Business” series and cover both business and personal development.

She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie.

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Cover Reveal: Defending Hayden by L. P. Dover

Defending Hayden
L.P. Dover
(Second Chances #7)
Published by: Random House
Publication date: June 28th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

No one’s tougher than Carolina Cougars linebacker Derek McLaughlin. But when a fatal car accident claims the life of his girlfriend, Derek finds himself caught in a destructive spiral of drugs, alcohol, and meaningless sex. But not even a string of one-night stands can ease the hurt. Football is all he has left. Then fate leads him back to the scene of the crash, and into the arms of a kind, gorgeous woman who sees past his façade to the man he once was . . . and can be again.

When a chance roadside encounter brings Derek into her life, veterinarian Hayden Hunter isn’t fooled by his bad attitude: All bark and no bite, he’s hiding a wounded heart beneath that gruff demeanor. And Hayden wants to be the one to kiss it all better. Soon they both find that a dose of passion is potent medicine. But when a hidden enemy lashes out at Hayden, Derek steps up to do what he does best: put his body on the line in the name of love.

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EXCERPT:

Guilt plagued me and I felt sick. Getting out of bed, I paced the room, running my hands angrily through my hair. I didn’t want to hurt Hayden. Keeping her away would protect her from my life. She was bound to leave me anyway. I’d fuck up somehow and it would ruin her. What the hell was I talking about? I’d already fucked her up.

“Derek?” Her voice was like honey, silky and sweet. I’d imagined what it would be like to hear that voice screaming my name as I fucked her over and over. Last night had been the best night of my life, but it had scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t shake it. “Derek, are you okay?” she asked. Stopping midstep, I turned to face her, and her eyes widenened when she got a glimpse of my face. I could only imagine what she saw. So many emotions battled inside me. She held the blanket to her chest, and her lips trembled. “Please tell me this wasn’t just a game to you,” she whispered.

Swallowing hard, I sat down on the edge of the bed and reached for her. She recoiled from my touch. “None of this was a game, Hayden. Last night was fucking amazing.”

Her eyes glistened, but her jaw was firm. “Then why are you looking at me like that? Like you regret what we did.”

I wanted to touch her, but last night had been my only chance. She’d never let me close to her again. “I don’t regret it, but eventually you will. You’re not the only one who’s lost someone they cared about. I can’t go through it again. It’s best to stop this before it goes any further.”

“Any further?” she scoffed. She waved her arm around the room, her anger so thick I could cut it with a knife. “If you didn’t want it to go any further, then why did you bring me here? Why would you do that to me?”

“Because I care about you,” I said, knowing it made no sense to her.

“Then why are you pushing me away?” she cried.

Standing, I got up and walked over to the window. “You wouldn’t understand.”

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, L.P. Dover, is a southern belle residing in North Carolina along with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she even began her literary journey she worked in Periodontics enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.

Not only does she love to write, but she loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes, white water rafting, and you can’t forget the passion for singing. Her two number one fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime and those songs usually consist of Christmas carols.

Aside from being a wife and mother, L.P. Dover has written over seventeen novels including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, and her standalone novel, Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read is romantic suspense and she also loves writing it. However, if she had to choose a setting to live in it would have to be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

L.P. Dover is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

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Release Blitz: Taming Beastie by Sedona Venez

Taming Beastie
Sedona Venez
Publication date: May 3rd 2016
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense

This big bad kitty is ready to play.

He’ll do anything to protect and claim his mate as only a tiger can.

Curvy Hope won’t go down without a fight and will try anything to resist Elijah Beastie, a dangerous, wild, and sexy tiger shifter.

Hope is everything Elijah wants in a mate and this sexy kitty knows just how to shatter her defenses and keep her moaning for days.

Danger lurks around every corner when they discover her secret. True evil wants Hope for the ultimate power that she can give them, yet she doesn’t realize the extent of the force she holds within herself.

Can true love stand the test of time? Or will temptation break their bond?

Taming Beastie is a stand alone adventure-packed shifter romance tale. If you like steamy love scenes, heart-pounding romance, and piles of sexy shifter secrets, then you’ll love the latest romp from author Sedona Venez.

Buy Taming Beastie today to fall for this latest shifter tale!

Goodreads / Amazon / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

My fingers ached with the need to touch him. “Thank you. It’s beautiful.” I glanced away and then back. “You didn’t have to get me anything for my birthday. Besides, my birthday isn’t for another couple days.”

“I wanted to get you something that would remind you of me.” His lips curled up into a small smile.

My body craved to be touched by him, and as if he sensed my need, he suddenly leaned in, putting his nose against my neck. My lips parted as his alluring aromatic scent of expensive cigars, sandalwood, and rich earth wafted around me. I almost dropped my glass before carefully placing it on the table with trembling fingers.

He leaned away, and when he pulled a small plate over in front of me, his arm brushed the side of my breast.

Scooping a teeny portion of truffle mac and cheese onto a plate, he dug into it and held out a forkful. “Here, open up for me, darling.”

Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. “You do know I’m not a two-year-old?” I countered.

But there was something sexy about him feeding me, and it aroused my senses and body.

“Open your mouth, Hope,” he demanded in a voice that was low, seductive.

My breath quickened. Well… if you insist.

My lips parted, allowing him to slide the fork inside. Damn, it is good—in every fucking way possible.

TamingBeastie-Teaser4

 

Author Bio:

Sedona Venez is a romance author with a dirty mind. She lives in New York City with her hot ex-military hubby–hooah–and their fur baby. She loves writing sizzling, sexy intricate stories about strong but broken characters who push limits, overcome their fears, and risk it all for love.

You can chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SedonaVenez), Twitter (@SedonaVenez), and her kick-ass romance website, (www.sedonavenez.com).

If you’re interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, you can join her newsletter list (http://eepurl.com/2ixqj) and get those details delivered right to your inbox.

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Review: Hate F*@k: The Complete Story by Ainsley Booth

Hate F*@k: The Complete Story (The Horus Group, #1-3)Hate F*@k: The Complete Story by Ainsley Booth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has come up in my suggested reads on Amazon since it was released and I just kept ignoring it, although I have no idea why. Then it was on sale for $0.99 a couple weeks ago, so I thought, “Okay, I’ll grab it.” I should have read a long time ago, just like Amazon said I should. 🙂

Hailey’s father is a douchey, dirty old man who has an agency on retainer to handle the family mishaps (think Olivia Pope and the Gladiators, except hot, studly men). Hailey’s sister is in a bit of a pickle after a scandal involving her and the VP of the US. Cue the arrival of the hot, grunting, sexy men including Cole. See, Cole may act all cool, like he doesn’t care, but really he cares…a lot, about Hailey that is.

Hailey wants nothing to do with her family’s issues and lives her own life, but because of her sister’s indiscretions, she has to have a bodyguard, who just happens to be the uber-sexy Cole. Cole makes Hailey’s lady parts sing, but she hates his attitude and likes to give him a hard time.

As you would expect from a book about bodyguards/damage control specialists/alpha males, there is some danger, a lot of secrets and a whole lot of down and dirty sex. I loved the interactions between Hailey and Cole. Even though Cole all growls and grunts, he’s got this big, giant heart in his chest that makes him super swoonworthy.

There was this one chapter that drove me absolutely bonkers. A whole chapter, you say. Yep, a whole chapter. Now, I’m not at all offended by anal sex in books. It is what it is. I’ve seen it written well and I’ve seen it written so poorly I wanted to trash the book. This wasn’t written poorly, per se, but the author took 14 pages (an entire chapter) to describe the anal sex and it was written so clinically, that I almost felt like I was reading an instruction manual. That is NOT sexy, people. Not sexy at all.

Other than that one chapter, I really liked this book. The characters are great, the back story is thorough and the plot is pretty believable.

My recommendation: This is one to put on your TBR, for sure.  Plus it’s just $0.99 on Amazon.com, so you can’t beat that.

View all my reviews

Release Blitz & Giveaway ~ Clarity 5: Loving Liam by Loretta Lost

Clarity 5: Loving Liam
Loretta Lost
Publication date: April 26th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense

Happily ever after isn’t always easy…

Helen and Liam are engaged to be married and their relationship is stronger than ever. But when Helen encourages the young doctor to mend fences with his estranged family before the wedding, she unintentionally opens a dangerous can of worms.

A devastating secret from Liam’s past emerges, threatening to tear him apart. The horrors of his family skeletons make him feel that it is a huge mistake to try to start a new family with Helen. Unable to cope, he pushes everyone away, including his fiancée and even his best friend Owen.

Now Helen must do all she can to save the man who has saved her so many times. Liam has put himself on the line to help her heal in the past, and she hopes to do the same—if she can even get close enough to try…

Goodreads / Amazon

READ THE PROLOGUE:

Liam Larson, 1989

I am standing on the side of the road and holding a newborn infant.

She is looking up at me with curiosity on her face, and I can already tell she’s going to be my best friend. We’re going to do everything together, especially coloring and making snow angels. She’s really tiny right now, but I’m sure that when she’s a little bigger she’ll love playing catch with me. I have a ball, but I don’t have anyone to play with.

First, I need to know her name.

“What are we going to call her, Mama?”

Turning to the side, I look at my mother who is sitting in the driver’s seat of the car and crying softly. I think she’s crying because it hurt a lot to take the baby out of her stomach. There is blood staining her dress, and she is clutching her midsection as her shoulders shake with sobs. She barely makes any sound, but she is shaking so hard that the car is trembling beneath her.

I thought she needed to go to the hospital, but she said no.

The baby in my arms is bloody and red. Maybe that’s why Mama never wanted to touch her. When she came out, I tried to wipe most of the gooey stuff off her before wrapping her up in Mama’s green sweater. Once I got it all off her face, I was able to see that she’s perfect. She has clear blue eyes and chubby little fingers. Her bellybutton was funny. I asked Mama what to do about the floppy string, but she wouldn’t help me.

“Liam,” my mother says from the car, and she is crying so much that she can hardly breathe. “Leave her there. Hurry! Before someone drives by.”

I look around in confusion. It’s early morning, and there aren’t many other cars on the road. Why would Mama want me to leave the baby here? It’s winter and there is a thin layer of snow on the ground. I shift the baby in my arms, because they are growing tired. She might be tiny, but I’m not that big and strong yet and it’s hard to hold her.

“Please, Liam,” my mother says again, placing her face in her hands as though she cannot look at me. “Put the baby down and come back into the car.”

“I don’t want to. She’ll be cold.”

My mother wipes her face on her sleeve, trying to remove some of the tears and clean her runny nose. She sits up a little straighter and grasps the steering wheel tightly. “Liam, if you don’t get your ass back here this instant I’ll tell your father that you disobeyed me. He’ll give you a good beating!”

I flinch at this prospect, and hug the baby tighter against my chest. I don’t want Papa to hit me anymore. He’s been away for a little while, but I know he’ll be back soon, and he’ll start hurting me again.

“For god’s sake, Liam,” my mother whispers desperately. “If you don’t do as I say, your father will kill me. He’s going to strangle me to death, and who knows what he’ll do to the baby. He hates little girls.”

She’s right. I have seen my father choke my mother before, and he always says mean things about girls. I begin to grow very afraid. Will he treat the baby in my arms even worse than he treats me? If putting her down means she won’t get punched or kicked by Papa, is that better? Somehow, she feels glued to my chest, and I don’t want to let her go; not for anything.

“Please,” my mother says frantically as she waves me over with her hand. “Please just leave the baby there.”

“But… but she’ll get hurt. If cars drive by, they could hit her.”

“We’ll come back for her, soon. I promise. I just need to go home. I’m in a lot of pain.”

I look down at the ground fearfully. “Are you sure, Mama?”

“Leave her, Liam!”

I quickly move to do as she says, and place the baby down in the snow on the side of the road. The little girl looks at me in confusion as I stand up, and her tiny arms move a little, reaching out for me. I can tell she already misses the warmth of being held; she misses me. My heart is breaking. This feels wrong.

“Quickly, Liam!” my mother shouts.

Ripping my own coat off my shoulders, I lay it over the baby as an extra layer of protection. She makes a cooing sound as she looks up at me, and I feel tears falling from my eyes onto her cheeks. “I love you,” I tell her, bending down to place a kiss on her forehead. “I’m sorry. We’ll come back for you, little sister. Mama promised.” I have a terrible feeling, but I’m too afraid to go against my mother, so I run back to the car. I can hear the baby start to cry, and my insides ache.

I have barely jumped into the vehicle before my mom starts driving away. I didn’t even get a chance to close my car door, but it slams shut with the force of the car’s acceleration. My mother is sobbing and the car is veering dangerously as she drives away at breakneck speeds.

“Mama?” I ask her nervously. “Are we gonna go back for her soon?”

“Who?” my mother asks brokenly.

“The baby.”

“What baby?” Tears pour down my mother’s face as she shakes her head violently. “There is no baby. There never was a baby.”

Her words confuse me, and I look behind the car to try to see where I laid the infant down on the side of the road. I can still hear her cries echoing in my ears. I can still see her sweet face looking up at me. “Mama, we have to go back,” I say as panic begins to fill my chest. “I left the baby there and it’s so cold. She doesn’t even have clothes yet. Can we go back now?”

“There is no baby,” my mother says quietly, repeating the words to herself over and over. “There is no baby.”

I am terrified. There’s something wrong with my mother and I don’t know what to do. What’s going to happen now? Is my little sister going to be okay? I am her big brother. I was supposed to protect her.

What have I done?

 

When Book Research Gets Personal… and Scary

By Loretta Lost

 

In the fifth book of my Clarity series, a young couple is engaged to be married and hoping to start a family together. Anxieties run high over whether they will have a healthy baby, and the bride, having been born blind, wants to have a DNA test.

I have done intensive research for many of my books in the past, but I must admit that this time, it made me a little scared and uncomfortable. I ordered a DNA kit off the internet for about $200 and it arrived within a few days.  I was worried about all the information I might discover, and if I’d be better off not knowing—but I tried to put my fears aside and do it for the sake of the book. I procrastinated for a little while, but the onset of a friend’s health issues made me realize that I wanted to know as much as possible, as soon as possible.

It ended up taking closer to twelve weeks to get the results, but they came just in time for me to use the experience in writing Clarity 5: Loving Liam. Although I had already written many of the scenes concerning the DNA testing, I went back and edited them with certain details of the experience—both emotional and factual. Regarding how the information pertained to my own health, I really did learn things I had not expected.

First of all, I discovered that I have a high risk of developing Celiac disease. This didn’t bother me very much, because I have never experienced digestive difficulties.  I already eat a mostly gluten-free diet since my ex-boyfriend and my mother must eat low-carb, and for some reason, I tend to adopt the eating habits of those around me. If I ever do get a carb craving, I usually only want rice, and I think that having Celiac wouldn’t really change my life. It will probably never be a concern.

The second discovery was much more alarming, and one that I wasn’t expecting: I seem to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. I have always imagined writing books long into my old age, and the idea that I could lose my ability to do so earlier than expected makes me very afraid. No one in my family has any kind of dementia, so this was a huge surprise to me. Of course, it is still only a risk, and it seems like a healthy heart, regular exercise, and strong social connections can protect against developing Alzheimer’s. Although it’s scary, I am grateful to discover this now, at age 28, when I can still try to improve my lifestyle and remove some of the environmental risk factors.

There was a little bit of good news in all this as well. For years I have suffered from cysts in my ovaries, and recently I’ve had cysts in my breasts. They have been benign, but I do have a family history of breast cancer and I often worry that the pain from the cysts could be an indicator of something more serious. However, I was pleased to see that my DNA does not hold an increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer. Of course, I understand that I could still acquire either, and I shouldn’t assume that these organs will be completely healthy without regular checkups and healthy living.

I’m just happy that I don’t have to assume the worst, and that I won’t need to cut off my breasts as a preventative measure. I rather like my breasts.

I also learned that I am not a carrier of any diseases that could be life-threatening to my future children, which was very reassuring, but I am not taking any of these results at face value. Environmental factors can be just as life-threatening; it doesn’t matter how perfect your DNA is, you can still crash your car if you don’t drive safely.

Overall, I gained a massive amount of material for my story from this one little test I did on myself. It is extremely personal, which allows me to imagine how the characters would feel in similar situations. I think the only way to write is to allow yourself to be vulnerable, and hurt, and to feel—and then to pour those feelings on the page.

When characters are really afraid, and concerned about their own mortality and futures, that is when they are most real and we can connect with them best.

 

 

Author Bio:

Loretta Lost is a USA Today bestselling author who writes stories where very bad things happen to good people. Mystery, tragedy, and danger complicate her unique romances between characters who will do anything to protect each other.

In the two days of summer that she gets in Canada, she grows a garden of the hottest peppers in the world. She loves using these peppers to torture her guests and challenge their manhood. This could be why she isn’t married.

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