Friday, May 31, 2013

ARC Review & Giveaway: The Underground Witch (Incenega #2) by Debbie Dee

The Underground Witch
Incenega #2
by Debbie Dee
YA Paranormal Romance
Published May 2, 2013 by Dolce Books
*ARC Ebook obtained directly from the author
in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis via Goodreads:

As the last of the Incenaga Witches, Emmeline has been tortured and forced to use her power to kill. But unlike the Incenagas before her, she has survived. With her freedom restored, she should feel safe, invincible even. After all, she has the protection of Prince Erick’s army and a power strong enough to obliterate any enemy. Yet Emmeline lives in fear for the next person who will try to control her, and no one can seem to find the tyrant threatening to claim her.

Until it’s too late.

With everything on the line, and the enemy at her throat, will Emmeline be able to use her power like never before? Even if it kills her?

In The Underground Witch, the second novel of the Incenaga Trilogy, Debbie Dee delivers enough adventure, heartbreak, and suspense to captivate readers at every turn.

Grab Your Copy of The Last Witch (bk 1) & The Underground Witch:

About the Author:

Debbie Dee recently moved to southern Idaho with her husband and three children where she is learning how to be a country girl in her favorite pair of blue heels. She adores fairy tales and happy endings, but secretly crushes on the bad guy now and then. 

As a dedicated musician who practices way too much, she never expected writing would sweep her off her feet until she jotted down a scene from a daydream, which turned into two scenes, which turned into a messy house and her first novel. Since then she hasn’t been able to let a day go by without writing. 

In addition to writing, she plays the piano, harp, violin, and gets in frequent fights with her cello. She loves to read and play board games - when she is winning.

Connect With Debbie:   Website  Goodreads   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon 

My Review:
If you missed my review of The Last Witch (bk 1) go HERE and check it out.
This review will be saying a lot of the same things because, well, this series is AH-Mazing! Several of the things I discussed in that review were proven yet again to be true when I read The Underground Witch!

I LOVED The Last Witch - completely fell in love with Emmeline and Erick. The Underground Witch reinforced that love. I didn't realize it was even possible for me to love them any more than I already did... but I was so wrong! I love them so much more now. Through the emotional ups and downs, I wanted to hug them, cry, pat them on the back, yell at them! Everything!

Emmeline is truly an amazingly well-written character. If I could honestly jump into a book and become a character, I would love to be her! (Yes, I want her eyes but having Erick too - Totally Great Idea! Ha).

I adored the new characters that we were introduced to as well - O'fin & Emmeline's grandmother! <3 I adore them! Then, of course, we have the introduction of the new bad guys. They kept me on my toes almost as if I was having to look over my own shoulder a time or two.

Erick - swoon - is the perfect Prince Charming. I just adore his character. I have to admit I wanted to smack him then turn around and hug him a few times in this novel. We (as the reader) know what's going on and he doesn't. So, of course, we want him to push, fight, and just GO, MOVE, NOW... but, duh, he doesn't because he doesn't KNOW what's going on at the time. I was biting my nails and flipping the pages as fast as I possibly could!

The movement of the plot is spectacular. There's not a single dull moment (and that goes for bk 1 AND bk 2).

I can't really say this any other way, so I'm just going to have to quote this statement from my review of The Last Witch:
"The writing style that Debbie Dee brings to this novel was so precise that my eyes simply flowed across the pages without any effort. For someone like me who reads at least 3 books a week, this is quite an accomplishment. I've seen writing of every style and Debbie Dee's is one of the most comfortable yet poised style I've come across."

If you haven't noticed, I could go on and on about this series. It's one of my faves! Eeek!! I can't wait to see what happens next!!!!!

So, again, let me tell you that this series has it all - Good girls, great guys, amazing plot sequence, great action, a lot of emotion, great bad guys, romance that makes you swoon... I mean, seriously, I could keep going if you want me to?

Umm... yea... I still want Emmeline's eyes!! LOL Can someone please create contacts like that? I would greatly appreciate it - 'Kay - Thanks! :)

Overall Rating: 5 HUGE Stars!
Cover Rating: Seriously 5 More Huge Stars! <- This series has the most amazing covers!!!!
Characters: 5 Stars!
Plot: 5 Stars
Climax: Eeeek 5 Stars
Ending: 5 Stars (even though I shed a few tears - it was an amazing ending)

*Open Int*
Each stop on the tour is giving away 5 ebook copies of The Last Witch (bk 1)!!! Make sure to stop by all of the other stops on the tour & increase your chance to win! Click on the tour banner above to go to Sage's Blog Tours site to see who else is on the tour! You DEFINITELY want to win a copy of The Last Witch!! It's AH-MAZING! Now, because I adore Debbie & this series, I'm also going to gift 1 ebook copy of The Underground Witch (bk 2) to the first place winner!
Soooooo... Use the Rafflecopter Below to enter for your chance to win 1 of 5 ebook copies of The Last Witch plus 1 ebook copy of The Underground Witch!
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Guest Post: Heather Van Fleet - Author of When It's Least Expected!

Please help me welcome Author Heather Van Fleet!
I'm excited that she's stopped by to share her views on Insta-Love!
I have to admit that I'm of those that usually grumbles when it's insta-love. I either love it in the novel or it just sorta bugs me a little. I'm never a full on hater, though, because, eh, what's life without some fun lovin' right? Ha. ^_^
 I love Heather's thoughts on it!
Thanks Heather for stopping by today!!!

Let me tell ya a little about Heather & her fabulous novel first!

When It's Least Expected
Perfect Timing #1
by Heather Van Fleet
Mature YA Romance
Published April 23, 2013
by No Boundaries Press

Moving on after a tragedy can be impossible – especially when you’ve been dealing with those tragedies for over two years. But it’s her senior year, and Harley Anderson is more than ready to do just that, even though the skeletons in her closet can’t exactly be hidden.

Enter Mason Daniel, the egotistical, sexy, surfer boy from California – a boy with his own hidden demons, and even bigger secret agenda.

Mason isn’t right for Harley. He knows this better than anyone. He’s the epitome of a runner–a guy who takes what he can get, only to split a short while later. But he can’t deny the emotions that Harley brings out of him, so he’s going to break his rules for once.

He should have known what it would lead to… Two kindred souls – both lost and then found. Will they fail, once again, in their search for contentment and happiness, or will they finally find true love, when it’s least expected?

Grab Your Copy or Add It To Your Goodreads Shelf:

About Heather:
Heather Van Fleet currently resides in northern Illinois, with her three daughters, Kelsey, Emma, and Isabella, and her fabulous hubby (and high school sweetheart) Chris, with whom she’s been blissfully married to now for ten plus years. She’s a stay at home mom by day, and an avid and completely obsessive writer and reader by night.
Connect With Heather:  Website    Facebook    Twitter

Now Let's Give Heather The Floor!

Insta-love . . . anyone who reads in the YA genre (or any other genre of romance at that) most likely has heard of, or have even used that particular phrase themselves when referring to the books they’ve read. But if you’re not familiar with it, then it’s probably best described as that whole love (or even lust) at first site thing between the hero and heroine in a book.
Now, people either hate the idea . . . or they absolutely love it! I, for one, am intensely passionate about it – but ONLY if it fits the story line correctly. Heck, the truth is, half the reason why I read is because I want to feel that unrealistic love connection between two make-believe characters. I want to get lost in the idea of a perfect fairy tale in a fictional world, especially when life is definitely not all flowers and rainbows and butterflies as it is . . .
Yeah, I know it’s not an entirely realistic idea, is it? And I also know that it’s not always ideal for every book either. But people also need to remember that books are just fictional, faux stories that many authors sweat blood for. And NOBODY (authors and readers both) should be criticized against for the way they believe in falling in love.
It’s so sad, because I’ve seen so much negativity towards that one simple idea of falling in love (or even lust) at first site. Readers bash a perfectly good book because the romance is supposedly too rushed, and that always bugs me for some reason. But I keep my peace, and I don’t usually respond, because once again I have to remember that the insta-love idea is not for everyone. But maybe – just maybe – a rushed book is exactly what the author believes in – what the author wants YOU as a reader to believe in too. And like I said before, I shamelessly believe in the idea myself.  J
Why you ask do I believe in this? Well, maybe it’s because I’ve heard of it actually happening, and even lived through the entire experience myself.
Take my parents for instance. They met when they were both very young, and then only a few short weeks later, they were engaged to be married. Now forty or so years down the line, and they are still just as “insta-in-love” as they were back then.
Now THAT, to me, is a real life insta-love story. . .
Then there is my own personal insta-love story. . .  I’ve blogged about this in the past, and anyone who knows me personally will know about this too, so I’ll make it short but sweet :) You see, my hubby and I met at fifteen and sixteen years old, and I’m not even kidding you when I say that I experienced some of the same emotions as a person in “insta-love” have felt. And now, almost fifteen years later, I’m still living that fairy tale – even if it’s not always smooth sailing. But hey – nothing is quite perfect, right?
So here’s my take on this insta-love thing: if you want to write about it, write about it! And write the heck out of it too. If you want to read it, then the same thing goes, and you should most definitely read the heck out of it as well. And finally, if you want to hate it, then that’s your right as a reader to do so, and go ahead . . . hate the heck away! :) Just try to remember one thing . . .  we all have different views on love and if you don’t like it, then that’s perfectly fine! But don’t hate us as authors if we simply like to live in a fantasy world where reality and fiction are not even close to blending together in that perfectly symmetrical line.   

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Kissing Fire by A.M. Hargrove

Kissing Fire 
An Edge Novel
But can be read as a standalone
by A.M. Hargrove
Adult Contemporary Romance
Published April 15, 2013
*Ebook Obtained as part of a tour in exchange for an honest review*

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Preston Mitchell, undercover DEA agent, has led a life of danger and obscurity. Knowing his job would never allow a normal relationship, he’s never opened himself up to any woman...that is until the lovely Avery Middleton stumbles into his life.

To the outsider, Avery has it all...wealth, family, connections and a great job. But on the inside, she’s miserable. Her social life is in the dumpster, the kooky gal next door has some zany plans for her and her selfish mother drives Avery to the point of insanity. Her only salvation is to get out of Charleston and start a new life. So that’s precisely what she does. She moves to Seattle and steps right into the path of hot and sexy, Preston.

Unfortunately for both of them, Avery ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and is now running for her life. But she’s not alone. She has a gorgeous DEA agent protecting her and suddenly finds herself irresistibly captivated by him. There’s only one problem. Preston carries more than his share of mental baggage, courtesy of his job. His covert missions have put him in places and situations he can barely stand to think about. Avery rocks Preston’s world because she is nothing like anyone he’s ever met and something extraordinary begins to happen between them. But can their love survive in this world, where danger, intrigue and deception lurk on every corner?

Grab Your Copy:

About the Author:

One day, on her way home from work as a sales manager, A. M. Hargrove, realized her life was on fast forward and if she didn't do something soon, it would quickly be too late to write that work of fiction she had been dreaming of her whole life. So, she rolled down the passenger window of her fabulous (not) company car and tossed out her leather briefcase. Luckily, the pedestrian in the direct line of fire was a dodgeball pro and had ├╝ber quick reflexes enabling him to avoid getting bashed in the head. Feeling a tad guilty about the near miss, A. M. made a speedy turn down a deserted side street before tossing her crummy, outdated piece-of-you-know-what lap top out the window. She breathed a liberating sigh of relief, picked up her cell phone and hit #4 on her speed dial.

"Boss, is that you?"
"Why yes, A. M., who else would be answering my phone?"
"Er... right. Well, I'm calling to let you know you can pick up my luxury Ford Focus at Starbucks near the interstate."
"Why ever would I want to do that?"
"Because I quit you idiot!"

A.M. hit the end button and speed dialed her husband.

"Hi hubs, can you pick me up at Starbucks?"
"Sure... Having some car trouble?"
"Not at all. I don't have a car to have trouble with because I just quit my job."
"It's time for a new career and I am going to be a very famous novelist."

So began A. M. Hargrove's career as a young adult paranormal romance author of self-published ebooks. Her series, The Guardians of Vesturon, centers around a family of six siblings and is a mix of humor, mystery, suspense and of course, love. Survival is her first book in the series and her second, Resurrection will be released in January.
If you're wondering, it didn't happen EXACTLY that way, but....

Connect with the Author:  Goodreads   Website    Twitter   

My Review:

I hadn't been introduced to A.M. Hargrove's work until I was given the opportunity to join this tour for Kissing Fire. I'm soooo glad that I jumped on board. I can't wait to pick up the first 2 novels in this series.

Okay, with that out of the way, let me go straight into Kissing Fire.

Now, since I hadn't read anything else in this series, I wasn't sure what I had missed. Do not let the fact that this novel is technically the third in a series bother you. Yes, I'm completely OCD when it comes to reading series in order. However, I didn't even realize this was part of a series until I was halfway through it! Hargrove gives an amazing account of what I missed to the point where I didn't NEED to read the others in the series. However, I WANT to read them now. Ha.

The characters are very easy to become attached to. Preston, this hot, sexy, undercover DEA Agent was an amazing character to follow. He's given up more than I care to discuss for his job putting drug lords where they belong. They've taken so much from him, including his father and being forced to put his sister & mom in hiding under constant protection. When you learn about Preston's journey to get where he is (going to jail and serving time... plus everything that went along with that...), you begin to see how amazingly strong and brave this man really is. The things that Preston endured shows that he's such a selfless man. Oh, god, I hated hearing about what happened to him but it made me love him even more.

Avery is a doll. I loved her & her crazy sumo-wrestling friend. Ha. The first scene in which you learn about Little Dickey is priceless. Yes, it's a horrible occurrence in Avery's life that I wish she never would've gone through, but the way that her friend comes to the rescue and stands by her side since then is fabulous. I was able to really connect with Avery. I found several similarities between her & I. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I liked her so much.

HOWEVER, I wanted to strangle her at once point in the novel. I won't go into detail because I don't want to mark it as a spoiler... but I have to admit, I was ready to kick her butt... Totally stupid move on her part... Well okay, that sounds harsh. Ha. Really though, she just made a rash decision that I guess I wouldn't have made. I wouldn't have gone to such an extreme had it been me in the situation. But that's why it was Avery and not me in the book. :) Anyways, honestly, it probably won't bother most readers. I'm sure there's plenty of women that would completely agree with the decision that she made. I just thought she was a little dramatic. LOL

So, overall, I really LOVED this novel and can't wait to follow up with A.M. Hargrove's other work! I definitely recommend this novel.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars
Cover Rating: 4.5 Stars
Characters: 4.5 Stars
Plot: 4 Stars
Climax: 4 Stars
Ending: 5 Stars

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win one of the following:
Ebooks of Kissing Fire, Shattered Edge and Edge of Disaster

$50 Amazon Gift Card
Good Luck Everyone!!!

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

IMM #29 / STS #23 (5 Weeks Worth!)

Well, it's been a while! Nice to see you guys again!! Life has been absolutely bonkers these last several weeks & I've seriously missed you guys!! I've been posting here and there but that's been the extent of it. It makes me sad that I've missed so much during these last several weeks since I haven't had the time to get on and visit with you guys!

So... obviously, this is a huge IMM/STS
because it's nearly 5 weeks worth of stacking!

Now that things are calming down a little bit, hopefully, I'll get to join everyone again on a more regular basis haha.

Now, on to the good stuff right?!?!

Again, this is 5 weeks worth of yumminess all compiled into one IMM/STS! Hopefully I'm not forgetting something... but it's possible... LoL


I preordered this ages ago! So excited when the day came!
$1.99 on Amazon

Another one I've been patiently waiting for!
My review will be coming soon!!!
$3.99 on Amazon

Freebie on Amazon

Freebie on Amazon

$.99 on Amazon

$2.99 on Amazon

$3.99 on Amazon

Freebie on Amazon

$.99 on Amazon!!
Freebie on Amazon

$2.99 on Amazon

Received for Review:

$2.99 on Amazon

ARC - Expected Release Date: 5/30
Purchase link not live yet

Literally In My Mailbox!!!!
*Happy Dance*

Thank you Abbi!!!!!!

Thank you Molly!!!!!!!!

Okay, so HUUGGGEEEE Thank you To Cristina @ Cristina's Book Reviews!
I'm pretty sure everyone within a mile or two range heard me squealing when I saw the message from her that I had won her fabulous giveaway!

Here are a few of the prizes that I've received so far! Each day when I check the mail, I hold my breath because I can't wait to see if a goodie is in there! :)

Thank you Aleatha!!!!!!!

Thank you Amy!!!!!!!!!

Thank you C.J.!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway: The Liberator by Virginia Scott


The Liberator
Dante Walker Novel #2
by Victoria Scott
Expected Publication: Aug 27, 2013
by Entangled Teen
YA Paranormal Romance

Synopsis Via Goodreads:

Bad boy, meet bad girl.

Dante has a shiny new cuff wrapped around his ankle, and he doesn't like that mess one bit. His new accessory comes straight from Big Guy himself and marks the former demon as a liberator. Despite his gritty past and bad boy ways, Dante Walker has been granted a second chance.

When Dante is given his first mission as a liberator to save the soul of seventeen-year-old Aspen, he knows he’s got this. But Aspen reminds him of the rebellious life he used to live and is making it difficult to resist sinful temptations. Though Dante is committed to living clean for his girlfriend Charlie, this dude’s been a playboy for far too long…and old demons die hard.

With Charlie becoming the girl she was never able to be pre-makeover and Aspen showing him how delicious it feels to embrace his inner beast, Dante will have to go somewhere he never thought he’d return to in order to accomplish the impossible: save the girl he’s been assigned to, and keep the girl he loves.

An Exclusive Excerpt!!!!!
I can't wait to get my hands on this novel!!!!!

When I open my eyes, the sun is trying to murder me. It’s shining on my face and making my head pound. Or maybe it’s my hangover that’s giving me the headache, but nonetheless—me and the sun?—we’re not on friendly terms.

Charlie murmurs beside me. My arms are still wrapped around her waist, and I suddenly realize I must have crashed out in her bed last night. If Grams wakes up and finds me here, she’ll run me a bath…and toss in the toaster.

“Morning, babe,” I whisper.

“Morning, hot stuff,” a distinctly male voice responds.

I whip around, my heart racing, and find Max sitting in a chair across the room. “You look so hot when you first wake up,” he says. He raises a hand to his hair. “Got that whole sexy bed head thing going on.”

Charlie doesn’t even move from her place, but I feel her laughing against me. “Your friend is kind of creepy, Dante,” she manages.

“Max, what the hell are you doing in here?” I ask, pulling the covers farther up even though I’m (regretfully) fully-clothed.

“Real question is, why did I wait so long to join you guys?” Max stands from his chair and cocks his head. A mischievous smile crawls across his face.

“No,” I say, trying to appear serious. “Don’t even think about it, dude.”

Max starts running in place, his smile widening farther until he looks deranged. “Ready or not!” Before I can stop him, Max races toward the bed and dives on top of us. “Oh! Oh it feels even better than I imagined.” He rolls back and forth across our bodies as Charlie laughs and I wonder why I’m friends with such a raging idiot.

With all my strength, I grab Max’s shirt and rotate him toward the edge. He falls off the side, his arms pin-wheeling. There’s a loud thud, and then nothing.

I wait for several seconds before leaning over to search for him. Max is lying face down on the floor, his arms and legs curled like a dead spider. “You’re not really hurt,” I say.

“I think you gave me spinal bifida. You need to call someone.”

“That’s a genetic disorder,” I respond with a sigh, collapsing back onto my pillow. A second later, he raises his head very, very slowly up from the side of the bed. It’s one of the more unsettling things he’s ever done. “Max, is there a purpose to this visit?” I ask. I want so badly to act like he’s annoying me. But he knows, and I know, that we both love this game: the one where I pretend he’s a pain in my ass, and he acts like a damn circus clown.

He stands up, crosses the room, and plops back down in the chair. “Valery sent me.”

I throw an arm across my eyes. “Of course she did.” Beside me, Charlie moves to get up and I immediately reach for her. She squeals and wiggles out of my grasp.

I watch as she walks around the bed and ruffles Max’s hair. The twenty-eight year old pants like a dog. It’s a bit disturbing considering Charlie’s seventeen. She eyes me with a grin. “I’ll make waffles.”

My face lights up.

“Yes,” she continues. “And bacon.”

I glance at Max and nod toward Charlie. “That’s my girl.”

“Damn straight,” he says.

“I’m still making breakfast for your birthday,” I call after Charlie. Then, looking at Max, I add, “My girl’s going to be legal soon.”

Max says, “Boom.”

Grab Your Copy of The Collector
& Pre-Order The Liberator:

Giveaway Time!!!!
Use the Rafflecopter below & enter for your chance to win an ebook copy of The Collector!
Good Luck Everyone!!!

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cover Reveal! Smash Into You by Shelly Crane!!!!!

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Smash Into You
Shelly Crane
Expected release date: Summer 2013
YA Contemporary Romance

Cover Designed by: Okay Creations
Cover reveal organized by: AToMR Tours

Jude has spent the whole twenty three years of his life running. From what, he wasn't quite sure. His mother tried to keep him safe; a low profile, a constant move on the horizon, a week's pay always stashed away. She tried to instill in him that he was special somehow, though would never elaborate. He never felt different. He was so completely normal and vanilla that he wondered if it had all been in her head. But then she was murdered and all he saw was a running silhouette of a man as his mother said three final words to him. Three words that changed his whole being. Never stop running… Now he's semi-settled into a big town. The college is huge and easy to blend into. It's been three months since he had to move because 'Biloxi', as he calls the man who killed his mother, found him once more. Then Marley, an eighteen year old girl who is as infuriating as she is blissfully ignorant of her gorgeousness, smashes into his car with hers. Then smashes into his life as he realizes that whatever it is he has that Biloxi wants, she has it, too. And now, they're after them both.   

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 About the Author
 photo ShellyCrane_zps2d239d01.jpg  Shelly is a New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay at home mom to two boisterous and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. They currently reside in everywhere USA as they happily travel all over with her husband's job. She loves to spend time with her family, binge on candy corn, go out to eat at new restaurants, buy paperbacks at little bookstores, site see in the new areas they travel to, listen to music everywhere and also LOVES to read. Her own books happen by accident and she revels in the writing and imagination process. She doesn't go anywhere without her notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down immediately, even in the middle of the night, where her best ideas are born.  


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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Freebie Alert!!!! Excerpt & Info for Skankenstein by David Fumarola & Katie Reiter


Sometimes the ugliest monsters come in the prettiest packages...

Victoria Frank is the picture of teen perfection – she’s talented, witty, and ruthless – but being queen of tiny Geneva, NY isn’t enough. Tired of merely designing the perfect outfit, she sets out to design the perfect person. But by the time she realizes beauty is only skin deep, she’s already unleashed her monster on the world. Now it’s a race against time to stop the vile creature from destroying her life, and she has to do it in the most evil place of all – high school.

After ditching her horrifying creation in L.A., all Victoria wants is the perfect senior year, but it becomes impossible when the dreaded beast shows up in her own backyard. Armed with a new body, a new attitude and a new name, M turns the school hierarchy on its head. But when M suffers the embarrassment of a lifetime and sets her sights on revenge, our queen bee finds herself pitted in a cat fight to the death where kid sisters, boyfriends and tiaras are all fair game. It’s a twist on Frankenstein unlike any before, with an ending so explosive it’ll leave your bowels quaking.

About the Authors:

David Fumarola has been writing as long as he can remember, and getting the stories out of his head and onto the page is the only thing that gives him peace of mind. Katie Reiter enjoys writing in her spare time, as well as cheap wine, teen drama and hipster safaris. They met as teenagers interning at the Albany Times Union and have been writing together since 2009. Skankenstein is their debut novel.

Stalk Them Online:    Tumblr    Facebook    Goodreads

Grab Your Free Copy From Amazon
Free Until May 21! Get It While You Can! 

EXCERPT (“Salted Wounds”)

 “Ok,” I said, folding my arms and sitting back in the booth. “I get it; you’re a bad ass bitch. Now what the hell do you want?”
She set down her burger, ketchup and onions spilling out where she had taken a bite. The greasy graveyard on her plate made me want to vomit. I had spent a good portion of my life avoiding crap like that. Not only was I trying to stay skinny, but that stuff goes straight to your complexion.
“What’s the rush, Victoria? Believe me; we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other from now on.”
“Yeah,” I snorted, “right.”
“And your tone! What would your mother say if she could hear you?”
“You don’t know crap about my mother!”
“Well, I know she raised a shallow, manipulative mess.”
I couldn’t keep my anger inside any longer. Still, I didn’t want to cause a big scene, even if we were in a trashy diner. I reached out and grabbed her plate, sliding it toward me. I grabbed the salt and twisted off the top. Then I flipped open the burger and dumped the contents of the entire jar onto the beef patty. I smiled and slid the plate back to her.
The wretch shook her head. “Now what was the point of that?”
“It made me feel better.” My smile turned into a grin.
She sighed and pushed the plate toward the edge of the table, where the waitress could collect it. “This conversation’s starting to bore me,” she said, “so I’ll cut to the chase.”
“Well?” I asked impatiently.
“I need your help.”
I scoffed. “You need a lot more help than I can give you.”
“You mean more than you already gave me,” she said, her eyes squinted in contempt.
“Exactly,” I said coldly. “If you need some help getting out of town, I’d be happy to oblige.”
She laughed. “Oh, I’m not going anywhere, Victoria. In fact, I think I’m going to settle in here.”
“Why?” I asked in disbelief.
“I’m sick of being alone,” she said, seemingly honest. “I just want friends. I want to be normal.”
“You’re never going to be normal, you freak.”
“Well, that’s not entirely true. That’s where you come in.”
“What do you mean?” I asked as the waitress grabbed the plate. She made a face at us when she saw the salt covered food, but she didn’t say anything about it.
“Are you ready for the check?”
“Yes,” I said quickly, shooing her away with my hand.
“You broke my heart, Victoria. So did Dr. Kunst. Why does everyone want to hurt me?”
“Not everything’s about you,” I told her. “Sometimes things just don’t work out.”
“You sound like Dr. Kunst,” she said harshly.
“He sounds like a smart man.”
“Not really,” she replied with a smile. “Like you, he underestimated me.”
“So what? You want revenge just because a couple of people didn’t have room for you in their lives?”
She gulped down the rest of her iced tea and then slammed the cup down on the table. Luckily it was plastic, so it didn’t break.
“Nobody understands. All of you have had such easy lives. My own parents didn’t love me; they had their own affairs to consume themselves with. You didn’t love me; you just wanted me to be your real-life Barbie doll. Dr. Kunst didn’t love me; he just wanted me to be his youthful distraction. I have no idea what it’s like to be loved. I want to know. I want to be like everyone else.”
“Wah wah,” I said, wiping the fake tears from my eyes. “So your life sucks. Get over it. It’s not going to get any better by complaining about it and getting back at the people who hurt you.”
“Oh, no?”
“No. If you want it to get better then you need to be proactive. You have to do something to change it.”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing.” She smiled at me deviously.
“No. You’re bitching at me, thinking it will get me to feel sorry for you.”
“Well, I can see that it’s not working.”
“Wow, you’re so perceptive.”
“There’s no need to be facetious.”
“Wow, that’s a pretty big word for a chick with a second grade education.” I rolled my eyes.
“I told you, I’ve been catching up.”
“In more than one department.”
“Hey,” she said. “It’s not my fault if boys find me desirable. What am I supposed to do, turn them all down?”
“No, but you’re not supposed to screw all of them either. That’s what we kids today call a ho-bag.”
She laughed. “Just because you’re afraid to explore your sexuality doesn’t mean everyone else is.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, come on, Victoria. You don’t think I’ve figured out you’re a virgin by now?”
“Jesus, you say it like it’s a bad thing,” I said, looking around the diner. “And keep your voice down.”
“Sorry, I didn’t realize it was such a touchy subject for you.”
“It’s not!” I insisted. “But unlike you, I don’t want the entire town to know about my sex life, or lack thereof.”
“Speaking of the entire town, that’s what I need your help with.”
The grumpy waitress brought the check to our table and walked away without saying a word. She didn’t go back to the counter. Instead, she went outside, and I could see her lighting a cigarette through the window.
“What do you mean you want help with the entire town?”
“Well, I told you I wanted to know what it feels like to be loved.”
“And you want to love the whole town? Ew, way to be gross.”
“No, you imbecile, I want the whole town to love me.”
I couldn’t help but burst out in a fit of laughter. It took several minutes for me to finally regain my composure. “And just how do you expect me to pull that off?”
“Well, there’s no greater sign of love than to be elected by the people.”
I looked at her sideways. “I’m not sure I follow you.”
“I want to be Prom Queen.”
Once again I was seized by an uncontrollable fit of giggles. “It will never happen,” I said through laughs. “I’m popular, not a miracle worker.”
“You underestimate yourself, Victoria.”
I shook my head in disbelief. “Even if I could do it, there’s no way I’m helping you. Not after what you’ve done to my family.”
“You really don’t think it’s the right thing to do?”
“No!” I blurted out in amazement. “The right thing to do would be to kick your ass and send it back to the flames of hell from which you came.”
            “That’s too bad,” she said in mock despair. “I was hoping you could be reasoned with.”
“Sorry to disappoint.”
“I guess that means I’m just going to have to resort to threats.”
I gulped. I wasn’t really scared of her, but I had seen the trouble she could cause. “What do you mean?”
“Well, just because your sister is gone doesn’t mean there aren’t other people for me to play with.”
My stomach felt hollow. I was glad I hadn’t eaten anything; otherwise I might have thrown up.
“Who should I start with? There’s Avery. She’s pretty eager to get away from you. Or maybe your dad? He’s been pretty lonely lately, too. Maybe he could use some company. Then there’s always Elliot…”
“Stay away from him!”
“Well, I’ll only have to concern myself with him if you make me…”
I sighed in frustration. “If I do this, if I help you, do you promise to leave me and my family alone?”
“If you help me win Prom Queen, and get the student body to respect and love me, then yes, I will leave you alone.”
I was running out of options. I didn’t know what to do. The police weren’t going to believe me. There was nothing I could do to her without getting arrested myself. I had to just do what she wanted and hope she would go away.
“Fine, I’ll do it.”
 “Then I’ll see you at school on Tuesday. I hope you make the most of that Monday. I’d hate to come back to those nasty Sloppy Joe insults.” My own personal demon slid out of the booth and stood up. “You made the right decision, Victoria. Elliot is too pretty to let something bad happen to him.”
She turned and walked out of the diner. I grabbed the check and clenched it in my hand. I was sick of paying for her mistakes.