Blog Archives

Adventure isn’t only for the young!


I grew up with adventures. As a child in rural Iowa, I ventured into the woods and fields of our small farm, and often sat for hours studying the plants and animals (and their droppings!) to discover the species residing on our property. I also traveled with my family to national parks and Canadian lakes. Camping, fishing, hiking, and exploring incorporated into our family travels.

As I approach age 62, I still enjoy traveling. Adventures to national parks remain a delight and spending time in the woods of the mountain property that my husband and I own brings me joy and peace. Nature speaks to me, centers me, and inspires me.

In my Pet Rescue Romance series, my characters enjoy adventures in their middle years as well. Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is a correlation between experiences I’ve had at two similar animal rescue sanctuaries: Kindness Ranch in eastern Wyoming and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southeastern Utah. Both facilities provide care, socialization, adoption, and sometimes a place for the animals to live forever at the respective facilities. I’ve visited both sanctuaries and volunteered at both, including a recent summer trip to Best Friends (my third visit there in eight years!). I support these organizations with a portion of book sales as well.

In Finding Love at Compassion Ranch, my primary female character volunteers at an animal rescue sanctuary, adopts two cats, bonds with a broken-spirited horse, and falls in love with the ranch foreman. Talk about adventure!

During these ‘dog days of summer,’ all of my Pet Rescue Romance e-books, including Finding Love at Compassion Ranch, are on sale. Find them at Amazon through my Author Central Page here:

Finding Love at Compassion Ranch and my other books are available on other platforms, like Kobo and Barnes & Noble:

New Book Coming in November!

The newest installment of my series, In the Shadow of Mount Moran, takes place in the Grand Teton National Park area of western Wyoming; the book is scheduled for release in November 2022. The story highlights the adventures of another woman who helps animal rescue groups, including a cross-country ski trip in which she finds a dog that’s been lost for several months. Think A Dog’s Way Home meets Who Rescued Whom? Stay turned to my website for more information on this upcoming release!

Bio for Gayle M. Irwin:

Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning author and freelance writer, being recognized by Wyoming Writers, Inc., and the Wyoming Press Association for several of her works. She’s contributed short stories to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well. Gayle is the author of many inspirational pet books for children and adults. Her works include clean, contemporary western romance books in a series called Pet Rescue Romance. She’s also authored several pet books for children. Gayle subtly weaves life lessons within the pages of her stories, including courage, perseverance, and the importance of pet rescue and adoption. An animal advocate, she volunteers for various rescue and humane society organizations and donates a percentage of all book sales to such groups. Learn more about Gayle on her website:

Blurb for “Finding Love at Compassion Ranch:”

A ranch like no other …

Erin Christiansen is still adjusting to life as a widow. She seeks additional healing by volunteering at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Upon arrival at the majestic and unique northwestern Wyoming ranch, she meets Mike, a man she knew in high school, whose compassion for animals and people might be the balm Erin needs.

Retired veterinarian Mike Jacobs is no stranger to loss. Five years after the accidental death of his wife, he now serves as ranch manager of Compassion Ranch. He not only fixes fence and provides tours, but he applies his veterinary skills and his heart for animals to his work. Upon recognizing Erin from high school, he can barely believe his first love will spend a few weeks at the sanctuary.

Can Erin and Mike span the years since they have seen each other or do they, like many of the rescued animals, have wounds that run too deep to trust and love again?

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Why do opposites attract in romance?


Romance readers and writers all have our favorite tropes. Whether it’s enemies to lovers, secret babies, alien heroes, or any of the countless other tropes, there are always ones we’re drawn to. One of my favorites is opposites attract, and it’s the main focus of my science fiction romance Warrior Priest.

The opposites attract trope offers a lot of possibilities, but it usually involves the lovers having preconceived notions about each other because on the surface, they’re nothing alike. In Warrior Priest, Jade and Selena are not only from different worlds, but have completely opposing religious and political views. Two of the most taboo subjects, right?

Jade is a warrior priest from a strict religion. His vows include celibacy until after marriage and the willingness to sacrifice himself to defend the oppressed. Selena is a priestess from a religion that advocates free sexuality, a strict vegan diet, and non-violence, even in a self-defense situation. Jade and Selena meet while involved in a cultural exchange between his world, Covenant, and her world, Niedress. Covenant has advanced military technology and Niedress has advanced medical technology. They have helped each other in the past and want to form an alliance, so Jade’s and Selena’s opinions after the cultural exchange will be important to their worlds’ leaders.

When they first meet, they’re physically attracted to each other, but despite agreeing to enter the exchange with open minds, they sometimes misjudge each other. This leads first to conflict, and ultimately to understanding and acceptance.

Once the opposites in this trope get to know each other, they often learn that they have a lot in common. Jade and Selena are both willing to risk their lives to protect people, though they use different methods. After surviving obstacles, including an attack on a refugee camp where they’re staying, a crash landing on an underdeveloped planet, and working together to help a suicidal man, they learn to respect each other, even if they don’t always agree.

Writing opposites attract stories is fun, but it also makes me take a step back and think about how jumping to conclusions without knowing the facts isn’t the best way to go.

Some of my favorite opposites attract romances include Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, A Mate for the Lone Wolf by D.K. Taylor, and People Like Us by Ruby Moone. The characters in these books handle some difficult situations together, and although they appear to be opposites, beneath the surface, they share many of the same qualities.

What are some of your favorite romance tropes or opposites attract stories?

About Kate:

Kate Hill is a vegetarian New Englander who started writing many years ago for pleasure.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, watching horror and action movies, working out, and spending time with her family and pets.

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Warrior Priest

by Kate Hill

Science Fiction Romance


What happens when a warrior priest from a strict religion meets a free-spirited priestess from a new age commune?

Jade and Selena are as different as two people can be, but to facilitate an alliance between their worlds, they engage in a cultural exchange. With their galaxy in danger from a planet that wants to conquer or destroy all others, they realize the importance of their assignment, but it is difficult for a warrior priest and a nonviolent priestess to understand each other.

Selena is both attracted and appalled by his old school masculinity, and Jade is tempted to break his vow of celibacy until marriage due to his powerful desire for her. Will this unlikely pair not only find common ground, but unconditional love?

Excerpt from Warrior Priest:

“See. I knew I could make you smile again. Even when I was a kid, I was the class clown. I haven’t lost my touch.” 

“No, you obviously haven’t.” He couldn’t ignore the leaf in her hair any longer and impulsively tugged it out, allowing his fingertips to briefly touch her ear.

This time her brow furrowed and she turned to glance at his hand. His gut tightened and he felt stupid.

 “This was stuck in your hair. That’s all.” He held out the leaf.

Apparently she could touch him, but she didn’t care for him to touch her. Why should she? It wasn’t like he was handsome—not like Ari Tobias with his perfect face. Jade had big features—wide cheekbones, a giant nose that had been made worse since it had been broken twice. The first time he had been stationed in the wilderness with limited medical care. It hadn’t healed straight. He was built well enough, but it wasn’t like he could show off his body, and that would most certainly be vanity. Still, he couldn’t help the twinge of satisfaction when he’d seen how she’d looked at him in his undershirt and also at the Ceremony of Honor.

She smiled. “Oh.”

He dropped the leaf in the water and strode toward shore. “It’s getting late and I have to be up early for the prayer ceremony tomorrow.”

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it.” Selena followed him out of the water. He tossed her the towel and turned his back to her. While she dried off, he pulled his tunic over his wet clothes.

After a moment, she said, “You can turn around now.”

He did, and she held the towel out to him. Careful not to touch her, he accepted the towel and scrubbed it over his wet hair.

Studying him with an amused smile, she folded her arms across her chest. “That didn’t help much. You don’t have hair. You have a mane.”

He wasn’t sure if that was a compliment.

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Warrior Priest is on sale for $0.99 until June 30, 2022 at Smashwords and Amazon

Meet Jennifer Wilck and her Scarred Hearts series!

Welcome to Lyndi’s Adventurous Friend Jennifer Wilck!

Thanks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, or pets?

Sure! First of all, thanks so much for hosting me. I really appreciate it. I live in New Jersey with my husband and rescue dog, Midnight. We have two daughters—the oldest is in law school, the youngest is currently studying abroad in Jerusalem. I’m very excited because we’re going to visit her next week! I write full time, and in my spare time I like to hike, read, watch TV, and socialize with friends.

Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?

I’m a coffee-in-the-morning and tea-in-the-evening person. I never write at my desk, but move around the house throughout the day, and I must have access to chocolate!

Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create? How would you best describe your books?

Well, I was an English major in college, and I’ve always loved writing, so I guess you could say yes. However, I spent a good chunk of time as a technology public relations professional and then as a technology write and editor for some magazines, so romance writing is completely different! My favorite romance to write is contemporary—some with Jewish characters, some without—and I love the damaged hero/brilliant heroine tropes.

Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?

My latest book, which released yesterday, is Unlock My Heart. It’s the second in my Scarred Hearts series, but each book is a standalone. The book features Ted Endicott, CEO and founder of a computer security firm, and Abby Marlow, his brand new computer programmer. He’s hard of hearing and goes to great lengths to prove that he’s no different than anyone else. He wants to be seen for more than his hearing loss and his money. She’s a computer whiz and pulled herself out of poverty to be financially independent. She doesn’t want to rely on a man for her success. Of course, they fall in love.  But then a security glitch in a client’s system indicates a hacker, and all signs point to Abby. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens and whether or not their love survives.

What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?

I wanted to write a series about really wealthy men who use their money for good. I think I was tired of all the negativity on the news and in the world, and wanted to do something different. Each of my books in this series focuses on one of four friends, and in each book, the four guys come together and invest in a cause that near and dear to them (and has something to do with the subject of the book). Although I have some technology background, it’s really old, so I contacted a friend of mine from high school who works for Intel and she helped me with the technology parts of the book.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

My favorite thing about this book is Ted and his hearing loss. I’m actually hard of hearing, and I based his predicament on what I know—although I made his hearing significantly worse than mine. It was a little scary writing about it, because it’s not something I talk about to many people, but I was able to inject some of the funny things that happen when you mishear things.

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I’ve always wanted to be an author, from the time I knew what a story was. I never actually thought it would happen, so it’s really cool to know I was able to pursue and accomplish a dream of mine. I love disappearing into the story, when the writing just flows. I’m proud of how I’ve pushed myself to accept a lot of the marketing things I’ve had to do—interviews, public speaking, etc.—that are out of my comfort zone, but essential for getting my books out there. And I think the part I dislike the most is the rejection, whether it’s from a bad review or an editor or agent who says, “thanks, but no thanks.”

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I belong to a New Jersey writing group (it used to be part of RWA but recently went out on its own), and they provide lots of resources that are helpful. I also belong to Contemporary Romance Writers. I don’t know about websites, but I’ve taken some marketing classes and plot structure classes recently that were really helpful—one about creating and sticking to my brand, and one about making sure to hit the beats in the story.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?

No, I really like silence when I write. I can ignore background noise in my house, unless my husband starts talking to me, but music actually sticks in my head and makes it more difficult for me to think. However, I do like listening to music at other times and often it will inspire me to write with a certain emotion.

Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?

My critique group is amazing. There are four of us and we meet monthly. We critique 20-25 pages of each other’s work at a time and my stories are so much better when they look at them. Each of us have different strengths and weaknesses, so we gel well together.

To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?

I think I have ten or eleven books published so far. I started writing in 2006, and it took probably five or six years to get published. The key to publishing was persistence and constant learning and working on my craft.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?


’m working on a few things that I hope to query soon. One is a contemporary romance, and one is a woman’s fiction book. I’m also polishing book 3 in the Scarred Hearts series and hope to submit that to my editor soon. I have some appearances planned over the summer and next fall at large reader events that I’m looking forward to—one is TNTNYC.

Anything else you would like to add?

I love to talk to readers, so please follow me on social media and say hi. And of course, if you read any of my books, I’d be honored if you’d leave a review!


Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.

Jennifer Wilck is an award-winning contemporary romance author for readers who are passionate about love, laughter, and happily ever after. Known for writing both Jewish and non-Jewish romances, her books feature damaged heroes, sassy and independent heroines, witty banter and hot chemistry. Jennifer’s ability to transport the reader into the scene, create characters the reader will fall in love with, and evoke a roller coaster of emotions, will hook you from the first page. You can find her books at all major online retailers in a variety of formats.

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Abby Marlow, computer security expert, lands a job at the best IT security firm in the country. Her sole focus is financial independence so she never has to rely on others again, especially a man. But why does her boss make her wires short circuit?

Ted Endicott, CEO and founder of the IT security firm, is hard of hearing. Although an expert in his field, he’s still uncomfortable admitting his difficulty hearing to his clients or employees. So why is he willing to accept Abby’s help?

As Ted and Abby work together, barriers fall away, and soon the lines blur between colleagues and lovers. But a security glitch in a client’s system indicates one of his employees is the hacker, and all signs point to Abby. Can they get past the suspicion and find a future together? 

Tagline: Can love break through their firewalls?

Excerpt (700 words):

Ted grasped Abby as she started to topple. Pulling her tight against him, he skated them to the rail and leaned against it, giving her time to get her feet back under her. Greg was right; Ted shouldn’t hold her like this, but no one was around and with Abby everything felt right.

And he was enjoying her body against his. He stifled a groan. Soft breasts, delicate bones, strawberry-scented hair. He wanted her, more than he’d ever wanted another woman.

She’d bragged about his success to her mother? For a man who’d grown up with a dad who called him stupid, Abby’s brag was more of an aphrodisiac than any sexy model ever could be.

He hugged her to him on the pretense of making sure she remained upright and waited for her to pull away.

Her lips moved, and he studied them, unable to hear her with the background music, the whoosh of air as they glided, the voices of the skaters, and traffic noise. He thought she said “thanks,” and he nodded. When she started to speak again, he took his finger and placed it over her lips. They were velvety soft and pink, and he would have given anything to kiss them.

Instead, he shook his head. “I can’t hear you. And lip reading is exhausting.”

He expected the usual shame to creep in. Maybe because she was out of her element here on the ice and relied on him. She clutched his hand as he guided them slowly over the ice. Maybe it was because he saw no pity. In fact, desire flashed. She blinked, and it was gone. But he’d seen it.

He could spend their entire time together wondering what conversations he missed. He could worry about what she thought, or about whether or not the CEO of the company should skate this close to his employee.

Or he could skate.

He held her close again, and they circled the rink. The cold air reddened her cheeks and nose. His hands should have been cold without gloves, but they weren’t. Holding Abby, melding their bodies together, created a furnace between them. He was surprised the ice beneath their blades didn’t melt.

They circled the rink once, twice, three times, and on their fourth turn, snowflakes fell. The sky glowed from the reflection of the lights on the clouds, which were so low, it seemed as if the tops of the buildings supported them. Abby shivered. He drew her close again as he stopped at the railing.

“Cold?” he asked.

She shook her head no.

If she wasn’t cold…he leaned toward her, and her eyes darkened. Her lips parted, and his heart thumped in his chest. He wanted to kiss her more than he wanted to be able to hear the sound of his name on her lips.

She reached out and traced her finger across his cheekbone. When she pulled back, there was liquid from a melting snowflake on the tip, and a blaze of heat across his cheek.


He caught the gist, and his shock at her comment broke the spell. “You’ve never seen snow?”

She shook her head. He wanted to ask her where she’d grown up, but this wasn’t the place because of the noise of the tourists. Besides, it was late, and if he weren’t careful, he’d do something he shouldn’t.

Like kiss her next to the golden statue in Rockefeller Center.

He steered them toward the exit, and they returned their skates. Moving away from the noise of the rink, Ted took a deep breath when he could hear again.

“You want to walk in the snow or cab it?” he asked.

The look of joy on her face was contagious as she held her hands out to collect snowflakes. He’d grown up in Ohio. Snow was nothing new to him, although he remembered how much he’d loved to play in it. He’d built huge forts in the snowdrifts, where sound was muted and light filtered through the flakes. The snowy walls offered a natural barrier and allowed him to dream of days when he’d be far away.

Like now.

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Chanel and Ryan’s wild adventure

Please welcome back Lyndi’s Adventurous Friend Amber Daulton!

Into The Fire is a romantic suspense box set featuring 10 smokin’ hot, danger-filled novellas from 10 authors.

In my contribution, Ryan’s Temptation, beautician Chanel Leroc leads a normal, mundane life until she witnesses a serial killer at work with his latest victim. If not for her sexy new neighbor, Dr. Ryan Naylor, she’d be dead too. The police stash them in a witness protection program, but after the killer finds them, they take matters into their own hands and flee the city.

With fate drawing them together, they embark on an adventure of romance, friendship, and survival. Mostly importantly, they learn how far they’re willing to go to protect the ones they love. Nothing and no one will stop them from doing what’s right, even if that means losing each other in the process.

Publisher: Carnal Imprint Publishing

Release Date: December 14th, 2021


Genre: Romantic Suspense

Heat Rating: 4 Flames

Blurb – Into The Fire box set

Danger, Secrets, Murder, Passion… Love.
Lose yourself in the world of cops and criminals, witnesses and fugitives, old loves and new flames, where the stories turn scandals into romance and secrets into passion. With all levels of law enforcement included in the intrigue, you’ll find unintended romance, passionate secrets, and forbidden love.
Your favorite contemporary romance authors invite you to join them for scintillating stories of law and order. Which of these arresting stories will have you cuffed?
These romances will take you deep into the fire.
Who will get burned when the case is cracked wide open?

Blurb – Ryan’s Temptation by Amber Daulton

Wrong place, wrong time. Now she’s running for her life.

Beautician Chanel Leroc can wield a pair of scissors like nobody’s business. After she witnesses a murder and lands on a serial killer’s hit list, she has to figure out how to protect herself—and fast. The killer tracks her down, but her sexy new neighbor, Dr. Ryan Naylor, drives the brute off.

The police dump the pair in a witness protection program, which doesn’t last long. Either the killer has a connection to the police, or he’s far more intelligent than they realize. All Chanel wants to do is get back to her safe life and get to know her attractive neighbor better. Instead, she and Ryan hit the road and try to survive on their own.

How will they stay alive and keep their blooming romance intact with the killer hot on their trail?

Tagline – After Chanel witnesses a murder, she and her sexy neighbor flee the city with the killer in hot pursuit.

Excerpt from Ryan’s Temptation by Amber Daulton

He deepened the kiss and danced the tango with her tongue. Her sweet cherry taste rocketed through him. Yes! Delicious. Her breathy gasp filled his lungs as he trailed his hands to the hot skin poking out between the hem of her top and her waistband.

Chanel clutched him close and feathered kisses across his jawline. “More. Touch me.”

Fucking hell. He backed her against the stove and claimed her mouth again. She pressed her soft breasts to his chest and tugged on his hair. The burning in his scalp thickened his cock. The inferno racing through him blazed hotter as he squeezed her supple ass.

She gasped and ripped her mouth from his.

He fisted her long, silky hair. The shudder rolling through him stopped his heart, then jump-started the organ. He unbuttoned her pants and stroked the hem of her cotton panties.

“Ryan.” She gyrated against him, breathing hard. “We shouldn’t.”

“You don’t have a boyfriend, do you?”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t be here with you if I did.”

He suckled the smooth skin of her neck. “I’ve wanted you since I saw you lugging boxes to your apartment.”

She gripped his back. “Why didn’t you say something?”

He thrust his erection over her belly. “I thought you might’ve been dating one of the men helping you.” Though he hadn’t seen either of those men in the building since Chanel moved in. One of them reminded him of someone, as though they’d met before, but he couldn’t place him.

“Mason and Jim are both engaged to their better halves. You had nothing to worry about.” She tilted her head back as he licked the line of her throat. “We need a—”

“I won’t hurt you.” He clasped her flushed cheek and treasured her kiss-swollen lips.

“Ooh, I know, but…” She shifted out of his hold.

He groaned. No! Why? He gulped and lifted his hand to calm her. “Chanel, I like you a lot. I didn’t mean to insult you about being a beautician, I swear. You must like me, too, or you wouldn’t have kissed me back.” Please, God. He needed release. This sexy woman had twisted him into a pretzel.

“Do you have a condom?”

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About the Author, Amber Daulton

Amber is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

The Adventurous Life of Agent Brandt

Welcome to Lyndi’s Adventurous Friend Amber Daulton!

Jarrett Brandt is an undercover DEA agent, so he’s no stranger to adventure and danger. In fact, he thrives on it. For the past year, he’s infiltrated the Consuelo crime family and rose fast through the ranks to become one of the head honcho’s most trusted drug smugglers. Then everything goes sideways, and his secret is out. He goes into hiding, but the men he double crossed are ruthless in trying to hunt him down. After he returns to his small hometown in Washington State—the last place anyone would look for him—he runs into his high school sweetheart, Marissa Reinn. They didn’t break up on good terms, but he’s never stopped loving her.

Their reunion is both a dream come true and a curse. He has to keep his distance to protect her, but he’s drawn to her. He can’t refuse her, no matter how much he wants to. When his enemies finally track him down, he faces the greatest challenge of his life—keeping Marissa and her son safe.

Lies. Betrayal. A million-dollar bounty.

After an undercover mission goes awry, DEA agent Jarrett Brandt hides out in the last place he wants to be—his hometown. Now he’s stuck with his judgmental parents and the memory of his perfect brother hanging over his head. His one bright light? Marissa Reinn Brandt—his high school sweetheart and former sister-in-law.

Marissa lost Jarrett once before. No way will she let him back in; then her son offers him their guestroom. His wicked charm and smoldering stares are hard to resist, but she’ll make him work to reclaim his spot in her bed.

When his enemies close in, how will Jarrett keep Marissa and her son safe, or will he lose his shot at redemption?

– Triggers: drug use (discussed) and a brief assault of the heroine

– A Hero’s Heart is a smoking hot second chance, romantic suspense novella. No cheating. HEA guaranteed.

– Second edition. Newly revised and edited.


“You can trust me, Jarrett. I won’t tell your parents anything you don’t want me to.” She sighed and stood as well. “You used to tell me everything. We never kept secrets.”

Jarrett paced between the coffee table and fireplace. “My parents’ opinion doesn’t matter. Dad would still throw up my juvie record or the fact that I’m not a cop, even if I was a model citizen. I’m not that lost, angry kid anymore. I know who I am now, and it’s not someone you’d want to know.”

“I disagree.”

“God, you don’t understand. Marissa, I’ve missed you so damn much. I’ve laid awake so many nights wondering what my life would’ve been like if I’d stayed here.” When he made love to other women, he imagined Marissa beneath him or above him, panting his name. When the nightmares of blood and gore faded, he dreamed of her. Those bittersweet memories and what if scenarios were almost worse than the nightmares. “I’ve done things I’m not proud of.”

“I hated you after you left, but I’ve gotten over it. Everyone feels regret and guilt over something. It’s all about being human.” She dashed away her tears. “I told you mine last night. Will you please show me the same courtesy?”

“I can’t.”

“At least tell me what you did last Christmas. Jason made it crystal clear that he didn’t want you alone. He wants you to have a tree.” She pointed at the Douglas fir. “Well, there you go. What did you do last year?”

Jarrett licked his dry lips, heat swelling in his cheeks.

He’d joined the Consuelo gang last December and spent the holiday in a slummy apartment with five thugs who sold cocaine on the streets of Albuquerque. Living around his drug of choice had nearly destroyed him.

“What about your last birthday?” Marissa blocked his path and braced her hands on her hips. “Did you have cake or go out with a bunch of buddies and get drunk? Did something horrible happen? Why won’t you tell me anything?”

He shoved a hand through his hair. “Damn it, Marissa. Yeah, I got drunk. A few of us went to a strip club where I fucked two dancers in a backroom. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

Her eyes widened as she stepped back.

Way to go, you fucking idiot. He brushed his shaky hands on his button-down shirt to steady them. “Marissa—”

She strode past him with a high head and left the room.

Her cold shoulder skewered him, but he didn’t deserve better.

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About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

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A new ghost story


Crafting a new ghost story is no simple feat for me.

            When I envisioned the Haunted Shores Mysteries, I set out to create something different. I wasn’t interested in imitating the terrifying, blood-curdling ghost tales of authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

At the same time, I didn’t want to go the route of the whimsical, all-too- helpful ghost, the kind popular with a number of cozy authors. Instead, I wanted to create ghost stories more closely rooted to reality.

Thanks to the work of scores of ghost hunting groups across the country, we now have considerable evidence of ghostly encounters—digital photos, audio and video recordings, recordings of thermal imaging and temperature fluctuations, EMF recordings as well as a few authentic artifacts—and these are forming a more complete picture of how the spirit world interacts with the living.

For my series, I wanted to craft my fictional ghosts based largely on this documented evidence…with a bit of literary license, of course. I am writing fiction here.

            At the same time, I realized my fictional ghosts had to carry a certain amount of “who-hoo” to entice the reader and keep the paranormal fan engaged. Too large a dose of reality might start the reader yawning and straying too far afield from these details might stretch the credibility of my tales. I realized I’m treading a thin line here and the composition of my ghosts is critical to making the narratives of my series work.

            For the first entry, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE (2019), the ghost of a large black teen  intimidates my hero, teacher and coach, Darrell Henshaw, when he comes face to face with the specter in his office. The youth, a victim of a racially-motivated killing decades earlier, stalks Darrell to get him to uncover the truth about the young man’s murder. Both Darrell and reader must have been suitably scared

as BLOOD became a #1 Amazon Best-Seller last month. In the second book, CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY (2020),  Darrell encounters the ghost of a bride killed on her wedding night, the bloody evidence of her gruesome murder spilling down the front of her white wedding dress. Her appearance is enough to freak Darrell, with more than sufficient “woo-hoo” and a heavy dose of the reality of the murder as well. Readers have agreed as they push CRIMSON into the Bestseller category this fall.

            For the third installment, SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER (2021) I wanted to pursue a slightly different path. First of all, the story carries a greater romantic theme. Darrell and his new wife, Erin are on their honeymoon, traveling to the sunny Gulf coast of Florida. Second, SCARLET is a Christmas ghost story/mystery. So I had to balance the traditional elements of my series—cold case murder mystery, eerie ghost tale in a beautiful resort location—along with touches of a Christmas story. The ghosts for this tale had to fit this ambiance.

            As I was pondering this as part of my plot planning, I happen to be reviewing some family pictures during the dark days of the pandemic. I came across a photo of my grandkids laughing and playing on a

playground, years earlier.  The inspiration for the story sprung from that picture. What if Darrell, a man dedicated to helping children, encountered the ghosts of two murdered children during the Christmas holidays? Talk about needy kids. The pieces for the narrative fell into place. This new ghost story would feature the ghosts of two immigrant children, two kids desperate for Darrell’s help…and like that, the narrative picture of the ghosts of SCARLET coalesced. Kind of like real ghosts.

            Now, I’m waiting to see if my readers like my newest representatives from the spirit world. Fingers crossed. Early responses are good.

“Scarlet at Crystal River is an eerie paranormal mystery I couldn’t stop reading. Randy Overbeck is a masterful writer of the paranormal, drawing the reader in before instilling shivers down the spine. 5+ stars.” ★★★★★—N. N. Light’s Book Heaven


Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for four decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake, Crimson at Cape May and Scarlet at Crystal River have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year–, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”— and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation, “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.

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  • Release by Wild Rose Press—September 13, 2021
  • Paranormal mystery
  • 364 pp.
  • Mild


All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.

            When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.


            Darrell and Erin thought they were heading to Florida for a carefree honeymoon, but the ghosts of two immigrants children haunt them, pleading for help.


Review Blurbs

Scarlet at Crystal River is an eerie paranormal mystery I couldn’t stop reading. Randy Overbeck is a masterful writer of the paranormal, drawing the reader in before instilling shivers down the spine. 5+ stars.” –N. N. Light’s Book Heaven

“A rollercoaster of a mystery, hurtling up and down hills and sharp corners until the very end, when the reader is left slightly breathless, waiting for their hearts to beat back to a normal rhythm. ★★★★★—ReadersView

Scarlet at Crystal River is a suspenseful paranormal novel with compelling characters and an enigmatic mystery that drives the story to a riveting conclusion. Overbeck is a master at building tension–-this is easily a one-sitting read.” ★★★★★—Literary Titan

“This is another masterpiece from Randy Overbeck. His excellent writing style has left me speechless for one more time. He writes in a way that makes you feel what the characters feel and you have no choice but to partake in the journey with them.” ★★★★★—Ioanna’s Reviews, Greece

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Stories I love to hate to read

Please welcome Lyndi’s Adventurous Friend Robecca Austin!

Every time I pick a new book, I can’t wait to read it. My kindle isn’t filled with hundreds of books I haven’t cracked open. I’m lucky if they’re twenty among the hundreds of titles.

And I enjoy reading each one!

But I can’t help look for the moments between the pages that I love/hate to read. The moments that make me want to send the book flying but also keeps me turning the pages.

Do you have those reactions?

I particularly enjoy a good, bad guy. The type that keeps evading capture until they don’t. The ones we learn about their back story as we read. The heart-wrenching villains that make me shed tears for their past. Yep, those villains.

At the end of the story, I’m not sure if I want them to escape or get caught. Drat!

I’m also a sucker for a good romance between characters. Yes, yes…that’s probably because I write romance. But I adore when the hero and heroine fight their crush. That push and pull of emotions are what keeps me coming back for more.

Let me tell you, I’m currently reading If She Says Yes by Tasha Harrison and it has got me on the edge of my bed or is that seat…

What do you love or hate about your favorite books, but keep reading anyway?


Family comes first.

The sentiment has been drilled into Latricia’s mind since birth.

When she’s forced to choose between self-respect or her family, what would she sacrifice?

The first time she saw Heath McCreath, he was out for blood. Her brother’s blood.

At their second meeting, he vowed to make her pay for her brother’s crimes. 

As if his promise to destroy everything she loved isn’t bad enough, the threats come from the sexiest mouth she’s ever seen. 

He’s her blackmailer and she shouldn’t feel anything for him, so why does her body betray her?

Now she has to decide, him or her?

Sneak Peek from Courted:

Latricia sniffed the collar of the shirt she’d worn to bed these past nights, surprised that traces of Heath’s scent still lingered, and now mingled with hers. She should have accepted his offer to have Terrance take her shopping the day she’d been pampered, but she never envisioned sharing his bed. True, that first night, seeing him shirtless had made sleep restless, but tonight was different. Unwittingly, her affection for him was deepening. Marriage made their relationship more complicated.

Taking a steadying breath, she opened the bathroom door and stepped out, almost stumbling at the sight of him already in bed, the covers drawn around his torso. His fingers stilled over whatever message he’d been sending on his phone as he drank her in.

Flipping off the bathroom light, she pulled back the sheets before slipping into bed, settling the covers over her stomach. Never was she self-conscious about sleeping, but tonight, every part of her was attuned to every inch of him. How could she relax, much less sleep, with him encroaching on her space, rallying for her attention?

“Did you enjoy dinner?” He rolled onto his side, propping his head onto his elbow.

Grateful he’d broken the silence, she said, “Yes, the Pruesos are nice.”

“I wouldn’t know.” His gaze roamed over her face. “I spent the entire evening watching you eat—”

Her skin warmed at his admission.

The thumb from his free hand rolled down the center of her parted lips, from top to bottom. “—Wishing I was the cause of your delight. Not the morsel of food you’d slipped onto your tongue.”

What would he taste like when she swirled her tongue around his cock? Smooth… delicious? If his kiss was anything to go by, she suspected his flavor was an enticing concoction.

Author: Robecca Austin

Courted: An enemies to lovers billionaire romance

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Robecca Austin is the author of happy ever after romance stories. She enjoys crafting tales of sassy heroines and alpha heroes that have a soft center.

She writes historical romance and billionaire romance stories.

You can find her outside enjoying nature and lots of sunshine when there are no bugs. When she’s not writing her next novel, she’s busy battling Cystic Fibrosis and hugging family. She lives and works in Canada.

Meet Amber Daulton and her newest sweet romance–a Christmas story!

Welcome to AMBER DAULTON, and thanks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.

I’m from North Carolina, USA, and I’m married with two furbabies. It’s beautiful in NC. It’s only a five-hour drive from certain parts of the Great Smoky Mountains in the west to the beach in the east. I love waking up in the morning to see thick fog outside my windows (I live near the mountains). Though I’ve always enjoyed visiting big cities, I’m happy to live in a small town.

Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I love having a cat in my lap while I’m writing—as long as the cat isn’t trying to lay on my hands. It’s so frustrating when they do that.

Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create?

Sort of, maybe, not really. I studied history in college and took a creative writing course (my school only offered one), and though I’ve written one historical romance and a couple of time-travel romances, my education hasn’t played a large role in my writing. I’ve always been fond of history—with or without school as a factor—so I have a ton of history books in my office.

Tell us about your most recent publication?

I’ve recently received the rights back to my debut novella, Forever Winter, from my publisher, so I’ve given it a makeover with a fresh cover and edit to self-publish it.

The story takes place on the main characters’ wedding day. While some readers may be put off from that, I want them to know this story isn’t book two or a continuation from another book. It’s a complete novella that focuses on one day in the lives of Camden and Susanna and Camden, the hero and heroine.

Most romance books show how the characters meet and fall in love, but they give little detail to the wedding, marriage life, and the children that may come from the union. I wanted to do something different, so I focused on all the horrible things that could go wrong on a bride’s most special day. While I put poor Susanna and Camden through the wringer, I also showed how love triumphs in the face of adversity and that nothing will stop two people who are madly in love with each other from getting married.

What inspired you to write this story?

Back in 2012, I was searching the Internet for anthology submission calls when I found one looking for sweet Christmas-themed romances with a word count of 15k. The deadline was in two weeks, so I figured I didn’t have enough time to plot and write something. But I kept thinking about the call, and for some reason, I set it in the Regency period. Susanna and Camden kept talking to me, urging me to tell their story. So I did. I wrote, edited, and finally submitted it on the day before the deadline. A few days later, I got my first acceptance email. I re-read the message at least two or three times before the truth seeped in—I found a publisher who wanted my book! It’s a great feeling.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?

What I love most is creating a new world or researching a real town and then twisting it enough to fictionalize it. Research, in my opinion, is more fun than writing at times. I love to learn about new places, cultures and people. Although I’d rather travel to do hands-on research, in-depth reading is second best.

The hardest thing for me is deciding on character names. Now, that might not sound like a big deal, but the names have to fit with the characters I see in my mind perfectly. I feel stumped and lose my creativity if I assign a name to someone that just doesn’t feel right. I usually choose the names based on their personality, physical characteristics, family dynamics/heritage, the time period of the novel, or just what I find sexy! I sometimes spend hours, if not days, just scouring through baby name books and websites for the best names.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

Yes, I mostly frequent Marketing for Romance WritersRom-Critters, and my publisher’s groups. The authors there are always willing to swap critiques, give advice, and share their own personal experiences about writing and life in general.

For websites I find useful, I particularly like Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. There’s so much information about grammar, plotting, story structure, etc that it’s mind-boggling, but who knows what I would do without this site.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?

I don’t listen to music while I’m working because it’s distracting. Repetitive background noise, however, like the whirling ceiling fan, sounds of traffic, and static on TV is soothing and helps me get into my zone.

To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one?

I’ve been writing since I was twelve and started submitting to publishers and agents as soon as I turned eighteen. I finally snagged the attention of a small press when I was twenty-six, so it took me eight years of trying, learning, and trying some more.

I don’t remember the exact number of books I’d written before I finally found a book home for Forever Winter, but it was probably around ten. I now have fourteen books available in various formats, including a freebie short story that’s only available to my newsletter subscribers (you can join my newsletter and get the ebook from the link in the social media section!), and I have several more books planned.

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to not give up, do your research, take criticism with an open mind, and don’t let negativity get you down. I know, it’s easier said than done. I’ve been published for nine years now, and I still have moments of self-doubt. But then I think about what else I could do instead of writing, and I can’t think of anything that would make me happier. Writing isn’t just a hobby, not for me; it’s a career, a lifestyle, a way of living that makes me happy to be alive. I’m not saying it has to be that way for you, but if you treat your writing goals with respect (and respect yourself), you’ll have a better chance at meeting your goals someday.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you?

I have three books releasing this year, so I’m way too busy promoting to be writing right now, unfortunately. Forever Winter (re-release) will be live on October 5th, A Hero’s Heart (another re-release) on November 2nd, and the brand new Into The Fire box set on December 14th. As you can tell, I have a couple busy months ahead of me.

Once the release hoopla dies down, I’ll edit Arresting Benjamin, book three in my Arresting Onyx series, and hopefully publish it sometime in the fall/winter of 2022.

Synopsis for Forever Winter

A perfect Christmas wedding, a snowstorm, and a shocking secret. What could go wrong?

Susanna Lorican must marry the man she loves before the truth is discovered, or face the gossip of the ton. With an unexpected snowstorm injuring the minister, her future hangs in the balance.

Viscount Camden Beckinworth vows to keep his bride safe, even if he must betray her confidence. When their love is put to the test, how will he uphold her honor without jeopardizing his own?

– Warning: this sweet, complete Regency romance novella features a brief scene where the heroine is assaulted.

– Second edition. Newly revised and edited.

Add to Goodreads –

Check it out on BookBub –

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About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

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Amber Daulton
Romance Author

Magic is a way of life for author Jim Stein’s characters

Please welcome Lyndi’s Adventurous Friend Jim Stein!

Jim Stein writes science fiction and fantasy with a goal of transporting readers to extraordinary realms. Life’s hard, and speculative fiction offers a ready form of escapism. It also provides a safe crucible where concepts such as good and evil or tolerance and isolationism can be explored and perhaps bring personal growth. Jim has a soft spot for the underdog and central themes using teamwork to overcome adversity. His stories are teen through adult appropriate, often featuring older protagonists that don’t strictly fit the YA mold.

An avid booklover from early on, Jim hopes to reach new readers of speculative fiction interested in fantastic tales without excessive gore and language. Relationships are part of life and his work, but his books don’t embrace explicit scenes nor insta-romance.

After three decades in the navy, Jim and Claudia, his wife of 34 years, retired to northwestern Pennsylvania with furry companions and occasional visits from their adult son and daughter—a big shout out to Katie, who created character sketches for Magic Trade School (MTS) and also the commissioned oil painting used for the Planet Fred book cover. Not to be outdone, Matt produced the Legends Walk series video trailer.

Aside from fixing up their 1890’s home and recent motorhome jaunts, Jim’s been writing full time and was first published in 2018. His debut novel published through a small press, with subsequent work under his own imprint, Jagged Sky Books. With two series and eight novels, he’s still a fledgling author who gets inordinately excited when new readers give his books a try and shout out their opinions through social media or reviews.

What’s the one thing Jim wished he’d known before publishing? The demands of Marketing! OMG, you don’t just release a book and watch it fly off the virtual shelves. I’ve never needed to be a best seller, but for mental health it’s important to see people enjoying my stories. Otherwise what’s the point? A bonus would be earning back enough to cover the bills for editing, covers, and the myriad associated expenses.

It’s a hard business. Algorithms seem designed to show already successful products to the masses. Don’t believe me? Just try finding something new to watch on your streaming service outside of the standard recommendations. Paid advertising and social media often overtake my writing days—tough for an introvert who agonizes over every post in his Facebook readers’ group. Achieving life balance is something I continue to pursue with limited success. –End rant

What’s next? I’m currently working on a free reader magnet for MTS and to expand the scifi slime quotient with sequels to Planet Fred. To keep things simple, most books are exclusive to Amazon and available to borrow through Kindle Unlimited.

Legends Walk Series. A post-apocalyptic urban fantasy steeped in Native American lore. Music has true power for eighteen-year-old Edan Johnson…but can he harness that magic in time to save all he holds dear?

Magic Trade School Series: A magic academy adventure with a twist. Jason’s robots explode thanks to haywire magic. Attwater Academy trains students for lucrative trades using their special abilities…but can Jason’s fledgling powers save his friends when school turns deadly?

Planet Fred: A soft scifi novel in the space-slime continuum. After the jungle kills her crew, Nancy befriends a wise-cracking alien slug…but can one human botanist and a morally-compromised mollusk delve the mysteries of the harsh world?

Bethany’s art comes to life

Excerpt from The Heartstone Chamber (MTS book 1):

“Every one of you has special talents. We will put your gifts through their paces to figure out the vocation for which you are best suited. In just a few minutes, you’ll meet our staff.” Dean Gladstone waved to the line of people sitting in chairs across the back of the stage. “Excellent tradespeople one and all. But our placement office is just as important to your success. Setting your feet on the right career path is paramount.”

This time the applause echoed from the high domed ceiling, accompanied by a few whistles and shouts. My gaze drifted back to where Bethany now drew something roughly the shape of a butterfly below the other sketch. Maybe they were characters from a game like Pokémon.

“Work hard, earn your certification, and let us place you in the very best positions. Now, there is a catch.” Gladstone leaned in, cupped the microphone with one hand, and continued in a conspiratorial whisper that of course rang from the speakers across our hushed group. “Some would wade into sensitive topics slowly like a swimmer testing the water temperature with a toe, while their friends dove into the lake embracing the shock of cold. Such shocks are invigorating. They wake the body and mind. That jolting contrast, the excruciating moment of discovery and acceptance, is what makes us alive.” His voice rose with his passion, then dropped back down to a quiet question. “So I ask you, my new friends, do you want to tiptoe into your short time here with us, or do you want to dive in headfirst and learn?”

Owen’s a wizard with engines

“Dive in…dive in…dive in.”

The chant rose from the corners of the room, surely seeded by administration lackeys. But I surged to my feet and joined in anyway, blowing off steam and the nervousness of being in new environs with so many strangers. Stupid, but it helped.

Bethany and I grinned at each other, and Chad slapped me on the back, nearly driving me to my knees—stupid cowboy. But we all were smiling by the time Gladstone motioned everyone to sit back down.

“I guess I had better dive right in then.” His comment brought chuckles of agreement. “So the catch is—” he looked left and right as if for prying eyes. “In order to be successful and make the kind of money you’ve dreamed of—” again with the sideways glances and pregnant pause. “You’ll have to learn magic.”

Jason’s robots tend to explode!

Another wave of quiet laughter punctuated by a few high-pitched giggles crested quickly and petered out at the look of sincerity on the dean’s face. Bethany gripped her notebook tight, positively quivering with nervous energy, or maybe anticipation.

“Magic is real, my friends. Each and every one of you have the gift.”

Also, check out Lyndi’s review of the first book in the Magic Trade School series above, under the Goodreads column. Can’t wait to read more!


Legends Walk series

Planet Fred

MTS Series



Twitter:  @JimSteinBooks


Amazon Author page:



Life Mirrors the Cosmos

Welcome to Lyndi’s Adventurous Friends author Addison Brae!

Do you know people who always get the short end? The poor souls who are as careful and as nice as humanly possible but bad luck finds them anyway? Why does this happen?

My theory is based on one of the great mysteries of the cosmos. Dark matter, scientists believe, brings planets and stars together while dark energy pushes them apart and destroys things to create massive voids. Astronomers speculate 96 percent of our universe is composed of dark matter and dark energy. But no one has ever seen these dark substances, and they only have theories as to what are.

To take the theory further, I see a parallel between karma and dark matter and dark energy. Some astronomers believe dark energy will eventually destroy our universe. This is similar to how karma can destroy lives—deserved or undeserved; explainable or not. The dark energy theory—or bad karma—is what continues to happen to Gillian, the smart, badass heroine of Dark Energy, Return to Becker Circle who never breaks her word. And she believes her boss/mentor serves as her dark matter.

Do you have people in your life who connect people to create bonds and shape things for the better like dark matter? And alternatively, people who always seem to be victims of back luck—or dark energy? It takes many dark matter people to resist dark energy—the empty space that slips into our lives’ voids to disrupt. Like dark energy, karma is random. If there is logic to karma, why do bad things happen to good people?


Read more about Addison Brae on her website, Tirgearr Publishing, Amazon, and BookBub.

Connect with Addison Brae on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

You can find Dark Energy (Return to Becker Circle) on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Smashwords (50% off through July), Apple Books, Kobo, and B&N Nook. A portion of the author proceeds will go to Staff Meal to help provide meals and other aid to restaurant workers in need during the pandemic.

Title/genre:  Dark Energy (Return to Becker Circle), contemporary romantic suspense



Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. She has been writing since childhood and continues today with articles, video scripts and other content as an independent marketing consultant. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary young adult fiction. When she’s not writing, Addison spends her time traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes and hosting parties. She’s still addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy.


Blurb: Cybercrime doesn’t talk. It creeps in and destroys lives right under Gillian’s nose when a cryptojacking scheme lands her boss, Pinkie, in jail. Gillian had just started over with a new career, boyfriend, and confidence after escaping a vicious murder investigation that shattered her ability to trust. Then Pinkie’s arrest leaves her struggling to run his two bars while also unraveling the conspiracy.

Gillian will not let her mentor and friend go down for something he didn’t do. Neither will Jon, the most talented musician on the bar’s stage and the perfect boyfriend…until his good fortune sends her reeling. Gillian forces herself to trust the cops, people who hurt her, and known criminals. Will it be enough to free Pinkie and save her life?

Excerpt – Chapter Two

Car traffic and jets stir me awake. I stretch and don’t open my eyes since I haven’t slept enough after such a long, incredible day. Then I remember restaurant reviews may be out. Slivers of the May morning sunlight make stripes across my soft grey and yellow comforter. I grab my phone and open the news feed, page through the day’s headlines. Do I want to know?

A headline jumps out at me—New Uptown Bar Opens to Sell-out Lunch Crowd. It must be us, and most definitely not PinHead Preston’s review.

Uptown’s newest place to be seen is Pinkie’s Too, the satellite site to its sister bar in Becker Circle.

Yes! It’s a good one!

The trendy but chill invitation-only crowd lunched on a full menu with Creole cuisine and pizza as the bar’s specialties. The cocktail menu is creative but non-pretentious with options including the Creole Cosmo and Pinkie’s Old Fashioned.

As a Dallas cultural history buff, the most unique Pinkie’s Too feature is the tables—each custom designed to commemorate a musician with Dallas roots who carved notches in music history. Some of the tables I could inspect without interrupting patrons’ meals were dedicated to Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Demi Lovato, Edie Brickell, Michael Nesmith, Boz Scaggs, LeAnn Rimes, Steve Miller, and even Meat Loaf—the musician, not the food.

 It’s a great reminder of Dallas’ diverse, deep music culture.

Today’s soft opening only covered lunch. Friday is the true grand overture with the doors unlocking in time for happy hour with an appetizer menu from open until last call. The highlight will be one of Dallas’ up-and-coming bands, ShowStoppers. Come back to the website this weekend for my review of the nighttime experience.

I point and flex both feet, doing my under-cover happy dance and continue flipping through other news. No sign of a Dallas Daily News review from Don Preston yet until I choke on my own breath. Doctors Clear Accused Murderer for Trial. My happy feet halt.

Two photos appear underneath the headline—one shows a dark-haired man with a deep tan teeing off at a charity golf tournament. A chill runs through as it all floods back. The other is a mug shot, the usual sparkling dark eyes now chilling and full of hatred. The same hate I saw in Kyle’s eyes that night when he held the sharp, cold blade to my neck. The photos capture two of Kyle’s opposing sides.

I pull the covers tighter and squeeze my eyes closed to erase the vision.

Shattering glass.

The ear-splintering ring of the 9mm round going off outside my bathroom.

Kyle folding on the floor. Blood oozing from his shoulder.

My arms extended in front of me with my fingers frozen around the gun.

My resolve for no one to control me again. Ever.

The news brief says the judge threw out the venue change request. It also says the Dallas district attorney is withholding charging him for the attempted murder of his ex-wife and aggravated assault of another Dallas woman pending the trial outcome.

The “another Dallas woman” reference is me. It still seems like it was a different Gillian.

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