Wednesday 31 July 2019

Love Letter Convention, Berlin June 2019

Back in June I was lucky enough to go back to the Love Letter Convention in Berlin, it's a fabulous romance focused convention that always has about 40 different authors. Obviously as it's organised by German publishers a lot of those authors are German, and unfortunately a lot of them don't have books translated into English which is disappointing when you hear someone talking about a story that sounds fabulous, but they always have some international authors there too from places like the UK, America and even Australia and they have a range of panels as well as meet and greets in English so international readers are made to feel welcome.

I wish UK publishers would organise something similar in London because it has such a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and you really get the chance to spend time with the authors and chat. I think because there are less English speaking readers at the convention those panels are always less crowded than the German speaking ones which is definitely a bonus for me too.

I have to admit the main reason I wanted to go this year was to meet up with a group of friends I have from all around Europe, most of whom I met at LLC a couple of years ago. We've stayed in contact ever since in a WhatsApp group (isn't technology wonderful!) and this was a great chance for us all to meet up again and spend the weekend together. Sadly one member of the group couldn't make it but we still had a fabulous time.

Me with Aly, Karin, Peggy (back row), Freya & Diana
(There are actually 6 different countries represented in this group: Austria, Belgium, 
England, Germany, The Netherlands & Romania, which I think is brilliant)

I have to confess that I was rubbish at taking notes in any of the panels so I can't really give you any info about what we all talked about. Instead this post will be more of a photo diary that I can look back on to remind me of the highlights!

Day 1:

We had an early start on day 1 to get to Cafe Moskau and register but it was worth it, the queues were already forming even before 8am and it only got worse after we arrived.

Diana & Freya with Ella Quinn

Getting there early meant we had even had time to hang out with author Ella Quinn in the courtyard before the first events even started. I love Ella's historical romances so it was great to meet her.

Clockwise from top left: Julie Cohen, Diana & Peggy with L.J. Shen, 
Aly with Kerrelyn Sparks, Cathy Maxwell & Freya

Our first stop was a Blind Date where you get a chance to chat with a whole bunch of different authors, almost like speed dating as they move around the room every 15 minutes or so. We got to talk to Julie Cohen, L.J. Shen, Kerrelyn Sparks and Cathy Maxwell. As a huge paranormal romance fan I was really excited to meet Kerrelyn but I've also fallen in love with Cathy's historical romances recently.

Next was a panel with Ella Quinn, Kerrelyn Sparks, Jenny Colgan, Dani Atkins and Monica James where they all talked about how they first started writing and ended up getting published.

Next was another panel with Helena Hunting, Cathy Maxwell and Lara Adrian. If you've been following my blog for any length of time at all you'll know that Lara is one of my favourite authors so I was ridiculously excited to get the chance to see her again and I also really like Helena's contemporary romances so that was an extra bonus.

Top Row: Kerrelyn Sparks, Karin & Ella Quinn
Bottom Row: Jenny Colgan & Freya

Next up was another Blind Date, this time with Kerrelyn Sparks, Ella Quinn and Jenny Colgan.

After lunch was a panel with Julia K Stein, Ella Quinn, Cathy Maxwell, Mona Silver & Monica James.

Top Row: Lara Adrian & Monica James
Bottom Row: T.M. Frazier & her husband

Another Blind Date, this time with Lara Adrian, Monica James and T.M. Frazier. I've not read any of Monica or Tracey's books yet but they're both so funny that I definitely want to in the future.

Lara Adrian and me

I took a break from panels after that to spend an hour hanging out with Lara as she signed autographs for fans. I'd taken about 13 of her books with me so that took a while but we also got to chat in between her signing for other fans which was really fab.

Ella Quinn & Cathy Maxwell

The last event of the day was a Q&A with Ella Quinn and Cathy Maxwell. They both write fantastic historical romances but while Ella really focuses on getting every historical detail right Cathy is a little more relaxed about that as long as she's happy with the characters and the story.

Cathy Maxwell, Gwen Overland, Aly, Ella Quinn & me

In the evening Aly and I got to attend a blogger event organised by the LLC team. We didn't end up staying for long as it was mainly aimed at German bloggers but we did get to meet Gwen Overland and hang out with her, Cathy Maxwell, Ella Quinn.

Day 2:

Lara Adrian & Kerrelyn Sparks

We had a bit of a lay in the second day as we didn't have to be there super early for registration. The first panel was with Lara Adrian & Kerrelyn Sparks so it was all about paranormal romance and their mutual love of vampires. Definitely my kind of panel LOL.

The next panel was with Lara Adrian, Helena Hunting, Gwen Overland, Monica James and Cathy Maxwell. I can't really remember what they talked about but I do know that Cathy was in charge of asking the questions and we spent practically the whole hour laughing. I even had a chance to chat with Helena for a few minutes afterwards which was great as I've been a fan of hers since I read the Clipped Wings series years ago.

Helena Hunting & me

Kerrelyn Sparks & Ella Quinn

Next we got to listen to Kerrelyn Sparks and Ella Quinn reading from one of their books, Kerrelyn chose to read from one of the early Love at Stake books while Ella read from her upcoming release in the Worthingtons series.

Next was a workshop with Cathy Maxwell and Kerrelyn Sparks where we all spent time discussing the characteristics we look for in our heroes and heroines and how that sometimes differs when it comes to fiction compared to in real life.

Aly, Karin, Peggy, Freya & me with Cathy Maxwell

The final panel we went to was with Kerrelyn Sparks, Bianca Iosivoni, Mona Kasten, Inka Loreen Minden, Mona Silver and Lara Adrian.

Me, Aly, Cathy Maxwell, Ella Quinn & Freya

We just had time for a final chat with Cathy Maxwell and Ella Quinn before the afternoon signing session started. Most of the authors only have German books with them so I don't usually bother going to the signing. Especially since we had all managed to get the books we'd brought with us signed over the rest of the convention. Kerrelyn Sparks and Ella Quinn both had English books with them though so we braved the very, very long queues in the awful heat and came away with some new books for our efforts.

Later that evening, after the convention had finished we all went out to dinner at a restaurant near where we were staying and funnily enough Cathy Maxwell and Kerrelyn Sparks ended up there too with their husbands. We had a laugh about how they had started stalking us for a change and took a few pictures before we all enjoyed our meals.

So that was my experiences of LLC this year and we had a brilliant time. It was fab to catch up with friends, we had a lot of fun with the authors we met and we all came home with a mountain of books added to our wish lists. Sounds like a winning weekend to me!

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Book Trailer: Honor Bound - Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

I really loved Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre when I read it last year so I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Honor Bound, too. It's currently on my wish list so when I have some spare cash I'll definitely be grabbing a hardback but in the meantime I thought it would be fun to share the trailer.

Savvy criminal turned skilled Leviathan pilot Zara Cole finds new friends and clashes with bitter enemies in the second book of this action-packed series from New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre that's perfect for fans of The 100 and The Fifth Wave.

Zara Cole was a thief back on Earth, but she's been recently upgraded to intergalactic fugitive. On the run after a bloody battle in a covert war that she never expected to be fighting, Zara, her co-pilot Beatriz, and their Leviathan ship Nadim barely escaped the carnage with their lives.

Now Zara and her crew of Honors need a safe haven, far from the creatures who want to annihilate them. But they'll have to settle for the Sliver: a wild, dangerous warren of alien criminals. The secrets of the Sliver may have the power to turn the tide of the war they left behind--but in the wrong direction.

Soon Zara will have to make a choice: run from the ultimate evil--or stand and fight.

Visit Rachel Caine's website or Ann Aguirre's website for more information

and just in case you missed the first book in the series here's all the info on Honor Among Thieves (you can read my review here)

Meet your new favorite kickass heroine in this daring YA series by New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre, a thrilling yet romantic futuristic adventure perfect for fans of Claudia Gray's A Thousand Pieces of You.

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that's made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn't much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she's headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan--a race of sentient alien ships--to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth's dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she's assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

What do you think? Have you started this series yet? If you have leave me a link to your reviews in the comments.

Sunday 28 July 2019

Review: Deliverance - Pippa DaCosta

"You can't say no to a pistol in the face." ~ Caleb

Bren's missing with a bounty on his head, which isn't Caleb's problem, until Turner Candelario makes it Caleb's problem. But why does a pirate with an ax to grind suddenly want to work with the down-and-out captain who killed his sister?

Coded messages. Abandoned mining outposts. And Fran's keeping secrets.

The mission stinks worse than the iron mines, but what else is there to do in the Nine systems now Caleb's trying to fly-right? Besides, Bren's bounty looks mighty tempting.

One should be dead, but death didn't stop her before. Chitec is gone, the Nine systems left in disarray, and in the chaos, One moves among them like a ghost, seeing what others cannot: a new malevolent force rises. A force One has encountered before. And caught in the middle of it all? Brendan Shepperd.

Chitec was just the beginning. The true 1000 Revolution begins now...

The 1000 Revolution:
Falling (Short Story)

Visit Pippa DaCosta's website for more information

I absolutely love Pippa DaCosta's 1000 Revolution series so I was thrilled when she announced she was writing a whole new series of books about these characters. Think of Deliverance as the first book in season two of the 1000 Revolution, it's the beginning of a whole new overarching plot but because it draws heavily on events that have gone before it's not really the best place to start if you're new to this world so I'd strongly recommend starting with the first book, Betrayal.

Anyway, this story picks up a few months on from the end of Trust. Caleb believes that One is dead and blames himself, he's been staying on planet running a bar but when Fran and the pirate Turner Candelario steal his ship to go hunting for his brother Caleb is forced to shake himself off and get back into the game. Brendan has been missing for weeks and there's a huge bounty on his head but just what did he do to deserve that? Meanwhile One has found herself a new body but she's also uncovered some very dark and dangerous secrets that she's uniquely qualified to deal with. There are reasons that she's not contacted Caleb to tell him she survived but it won't be too long before their paths cross as they're both thrown right back into another deadly fight for survival.

It was so much fun being back in this world. I'm glad I chose to reread the previous books first because I'd forgotten so much in the three years since the last release. These characters all have such complex histories and all love hoarding secrets so every time you think you have something worked out a new twist comes along and changes everything. Deliverance was just as action packed as I hoped it would be, there is danger around every corner and you never know what will happen next. I'm so glad we've got another 3 books to look forward to and I can't wait to spend more time in this world.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Saturday 27 July 2019

Review: Memory in Death - J.D. Robb

Cold rimmed her belly, frosted its way up to her throat. She couldn't breathe through the ice of it. Fear scratched at her throat. 'How did you find me?'

Nothing shocks Eve Dallas. As New York's most prominent and headstrong homicide Lieutenant, she's seen everything. But when someone from her past shows up - someone sickly sweet and viciously cruel - Eve panics.

Foster carer Trudy Lombard spent years traumatising the young and the vulnerable. To the tough, aggressive Eve, these memories cut deep. So when Trudy is found lying dead in a pool of her own blood days after their meeting, Eve feels nothing. But the cop inside her vows to find the killer.

And all the while her memories torment her. . .

In Death Series:
Naked in Death
Glory in Death
Immortal in Death
Rapture in Death
Ceremony in Death
Vengeance in Death
Holiday in Death
Midnight in Death (Novella)
Conspiracy in Death
Loyalty in Death
Witness in Death
Judgement in Death
Betrayal in Death
Interlude in Death (Novella)
Seduction in Death
Reunion in Death
Purity in Death
Portrait in Death
Imitation in Death
Big Jack (Available in the Remember When Anthology or separately)
Divided in Death
Visions in Death
Survivor in Death
Origin in Death
Memory in Death
Haunted in Death (Novella)
Born in Death
Innocent in Death
Creation in Death
Eternity in Death (Novella)
Strangers in Death
Salvation in Death
Ritual in Death (Novella)
Promises in Death
Kindred in Death
Missing in Death (Novella)
Fantasy in Death
Indulgence in Death
Possession in Death (Novella)
Treachery in Death
New York to Dallas
Chaos in Death (Novella)
Celebrity in Death
Delusion in Death
Calculated in Death
Thankless in Death
Taken in Death (Novella available in the Mirror, Mirror anthology or separately)
Concealed in Death
Festive in Death
Obsession in Death
Devoted in Death
Wonderment in Death (Novella)
Brotherhood in Death
Apprentice in Death
Echoes in Death
Secrets in Death
Dark in Death
Leverage in Death
Connections in Death
Vendetta in Death
Golden in Death

Visit J.D. Robb's website for more information.

We're so used to seeing Eve on top of her game that it's quite disconcerting to see her knocked for six when a face from her past breezes into town. Trudy Lombard was Eve's first foster mother after Eve had escaped from her father and lets just say that it wasn't a pleasant placement. Eve had blocked the memories so she's thrown totally off stride when Trudy walks in expecting to be welcomed with open arms. Of course Roarke pegs it straight away that the woman is looking for a handout but Eve is so off balance that it doesn't even cross her mind until Trudy tries to blackmail them. Roarke comes straight back with a scathing putdown but that just makes Trudy angry and even more determined to get the cash she came for.

Then when Trudy is brutally murdered the very next day both Eve and Roarke are obvious suspects but luckily they have the perfect alibi as they were hosting a Christmas party attended by half of the police force at the time of death. Eve has very little sympathy for Trudy but that doesn't mean she won't do her job and track down her killer, she doesn't believe in vigilante justice no matter how much Trudy deserved what she got.

Memory in Death was another fab instalment to the series. It was strange seeing Eve so off balance and there was a moment when she took out her frustrations on Roarke but we really got to see how far she's come because she realised how unreasonable she had been and actually apologised to him. It's great to see how strong they are as a couple now and that she's finding it so much easier to show Roarke how much she loves him. I enjoyed seeing them spending their second Christmas together and building on the traditions they have started to create for themselves too, neither of them had much of a family growing up but they're doing a brilliant job of making one together now with a close group of friends.

Every time I finish a book in this series I want to dive straight into the next one but I'm trying to ration them out a little as I'm almost halfway through the series now. It's a good job J.D. Robb writes so quickly because I'm not looking forward to having to wait for the next instalment!

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Friday 26 July 2019

Cover Reveal: Promise of Darkness - Bec McMaster

Today we have the cover reveal for PROMISE OF DARKNESS by Bec McMaster! Check it out and be sure to pre-order your copy today!


Author: Bec McMaster

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Blitz: September 17th

About Promise of Darkness:

Princess. Tribute. Sacrifice. Is she the one prophesied to unite two warring Fae courts? Or the one bound to destroy them?

In a realm ruled by magic, the ruthless Queen of Thorns is determined to destroy her nemesis, the cursed Prince of Evernight.

With war brewing between the bitter enemies, the prince forces Queen Adaia to uphold an ancient treaty: she will send one of her daughters to his court as a political hostage for three months.

The queen insists it’s the perfect opportunity for Princess Iskvien to end the war before it begins. But one look into Thiago’s smoldering eyes and Vi knows she’s no assassin.

The more secrets she uncovers about the prince and his court, the more she begins to question her mother’s motives.

Who is the true enemy? The dark prince who threatens her heart? Or the ruthless queen who will stop at nothing to destroy him?

And when the curse threatens to shatter both courts, is her heart strong enough to break it?

A fairytale twist inspired by the Hades and Persephone myth.

Pre-Order Your Copy Today:

About Bec McMaster:

I'm a writer. Dreamer. Travel Addict. And enthusiastic-if-not-perfect baker. I'll honestly admit that I don't always follow the recipe, be it cooking, or writing romances. If I'm not sitting in front of the computer, I'm probably plotting my next world trip. Or eating chocolate. Sometimes I run. Because...chocolate. I grew up on a steady diet of 80's fantasy movies like Ladyhawke, Labyrinth and The Princess Bride, and love creating epic, fantasy-based worlds with heroes and heroines who must defeat all the odds to have their HEA. I live in a country town in Australia, with my very own beta hero, Byron; Kobe, a dog who will eat anything (even used teabags); and demanding chickens, Siggy and Lagertha.

Connect with Bec:

Thursday 25 July 2019

Review: A Dom is Forever - Lexi Blake

A Man with a Past…

Liam O’Donnell fled his native Ireland years ago after one of his missions ended in tragedy and he is accused of killing several of his fellow agents. Shrouded in mystery, Liam can’t remember that fateful night. He came to the United States in disgrace, seeking redemption for crimes he may or may not have committed. But the hunt for an international terrorist leads him to London and right back into the world he left behind.

A Woman Looking for a Future…

Avery Charles followed her boss to London, eager to help the philanthropist with his many charities. When she meets a mysterious man who promises to show her London’s fetish scene, she can’t help but indulge in her darkest fantasies. Liam becomes her Dom, her protector, her lover. She opens her heart and her home to him, only to discover he’s a man on a mission and she’s just a means to an end.

When Avery’s boss leads them to the traitorous Mr. Black, Liam must put together the puzzle of his past or Avery might not have a future…

Masters and Mercenaries Series:
The Dom Who Loved Me
The Men with the Golden Cuffs
A Dom is Forever
On Her Master's Secret Service
Sanctum (Novella)
Love and Let Die
Unconditional (Novella)
Dungeon Royal
Dungeon Games (Novella)
A View to a Thrill
Cherished (Novella)
You Only Love Twice
Sweet Child O' Mine (Short Story)
Luscious (Novella) (Topped book 1)
Adored (Novella)
Master No
Just One Taste (Novella) (Topped book 2)
From Sanctum With Love
Devoted (Novella)
Dominance Never Dies
Submission is Not Enough
Master Bits & Mercenary Bites: The Secret Recipes of Topped (Short Story Collection & Recipe Book) (Topped book 2.5)
Perfectly Paired (Novella) (Topped book 3)
For His Eyes Only
Arranged (Novella)
Love Another Day
Master Bits and Mercenary Bites: Girls Night (Short Story Collection & Recipe Book) (Topped book 3.5)
At Your Service (Novella) (Topped book 4)
Nobody Does it Better
Close Cover (Part of the Masters and Mercenaries Crossover Collection)
Protected (Novella)
Lost Hearts (Memento Mori) (Originally published as Memento Mori) (Masters & Mercenaries: The Forgotten Series book 1)
Lost and Found (Masters & Mercenaries: The Forgotten Series book 2)
Enchanted (Novella)
Lost in You (Masters & Mercenaries: The Forgotten Series book 3)
Long Lost (Masters & Mercenaries: The Forgotten Series book 4)
No Love lost (Masters & Mercenaries: The Forgotten Series book 5)

Masters and Mercenaries Crossover Collection:
Close Cover - Lexi Blake
Justify Me - J. Kenner
Say You Won't Let Go - Corinne Michaels
His to Protect - Carly Phillips
Rescuing Sadie - Susan Stoker
Her Guardian Angel - Larissa Ione

Visit Lexi Blake's website for more information

The team are hot on the heels of Eli Nelson, the rogue CIA Agent they've been trying to bring down since the first book, and the chase has brought them to London where they believe Eli is working alongside wealthy philanthropist Thomas Molina. They need to get close to Molina to figure out exactly how he's involved and the best way to do that is via his assistant Avery. It's Liam's turn to go undercover but he has no idea that his past and present are about to collide and the explosion could be the death of him.

I've been looking forward to Liam's book, he's been a loveable rogue since the beginning of the series and I was dying to know more about him and how he ended up working at McKay/Taggart so I loved getting to learn more about his backstory. He left Ireland in disgrace after an op went south and several fellow agents were killed and he's been living under a cloud ever since, unable to remember the night it all went wrong and secretly worried that it was all somehow his fault. Liam never wanted to settle down and enjoys spending time with the single subs at the club but there is something about Avery's innocence that completely draws him in and when he falls it's hard and fast.

Avery is a woman who has lost everything not just once but twice, first when her parents died and then later when her husband and daughter were killed in a tragic accident. That kind of trauma could easily make her bitter but she's somehow managed to keep a sense of optimism and she's worked hard to build a life for herself. Sure, the last few years may all have been about her work but now she's feeling ready to put herself out there again and perhaps try dating. She has a connection with Liam from the very beginning and although she's wary of getting hurt again she won't let it stop her from fighting for what she wants.

I think what I loved most about Liam was that when he realised how deep he'd fallen he went against the team to tell Avery the truth about who he was and why he was in London. The one thing I've not liked about the previous two books was how the guys were keeping secrets for such a long time so I loved Liam risking it all because he trusted Avery and knew she couldn't possibly be involved with anything dodgy. That earned him extra bonus points with me for sure. I thought Liam and Avery were great together, yes their relationship moves fast, and yes she does willingly jump into the lifestyle very quickly but for a lot of reasons these two just fit and I enjoyed spending time with them.

I also love the action in this series, there are always lots of things going on with the team and the rogue CIA agent they're chasing but this time around we also get to see a lot of Liam's past and learn a bit more about Ian's marriage too. There were definitely a few surprises along the way that left me really excited to continue reading this series.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Cover Reveal: Unearthed - Cecy Robson

Today I am excited to join Cecy Robson in unveiling the cover for Unearthed, the first book in her Death Seeker urban fantasy series. To celebrate Cecy is sharing chapter one with you and offering five winners an eBook copy of Sealed with a Curse. Enjoy!

Now Feast your eyes on ....

Unearthed (Death Seeker #1)

*cover designed by Rebecca Weeks @ Dark Wish Designs

September 24, 2019
Add to Goodreads
Pre-order your Copy: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

Fae was once a flourishing paradise. Until Death turned greedy and destroyed it, targeting the creatures who inhabited it. Those who survived escaped to Earth’s realm, but Death wasn’t far behind . . .

Olivia Finn is just another pixie trying to blend in among humans and hide from the death hounds who devoured her family. Clinging to the talisman that keeps her veiled from those who hunt her, she believes she is safe. . .. Until Death finds her and discovers she’s immune to its grip.

Now that Olivia’s power is unearthed, she is sought by Fae who see her as their savior and stalked by dark entities compelled to destroy her. Can she trust the King of the Dead who has sworn to train and protect her? Or should she obey her instincts that warn he desires more?

Olivia can no longer hide from Death. To survive, she must seek it.


Chapter One

Ryker Scott, MacGregor and Santonelli’s newest associate, prowls past my cubicle wearing a tailored black suit that hugs his broad shoulders. I swear he’s not human. In the year he’s worked here, he’s represented a talk show host charged with having sex with multiple minors, a senator’s son accused of sexually assaulting a young boy, and a Wall Street executive snagged in a cocaine smuggling ring. All were acquitted under his watch, despite the odds and endless charges. His latest victory was mere days ago when his client, a Broadway star one blow shy of beating his wife to death, was found not guilty.

Ryker’s military haircut fits his serious persona. The guy doesn’t smile, ever. I suppose when you represent walking pieces of filth, it’s hard to pretend you’d skip through a field of daisies. I’d ask him how he sleeps at night, saving all those horrible people and releasing them back into society, but I don’t know him, and I don’t care to.

Ryker’s ice blue eyes dart in my direction when I glare. He knows I hate every inch of his hulking form. If I could flip him off, I would. Instead, I give him my back and return to my work, wishing he’d stay on his side of the office.

I sense him stalk around the corner to speak quietly to another paralegal. She’s likely falling all over herself to please him. He has that effect on the staff, unlike my boss, who everyone avoids like shingles.

Speaking of the most irate man to ever wear a suit, Marco slams down the receiver to the phone, his booming voice loud enough to rattle the glass of his fishbowl office. “Olivia! Where the hell are my notes?”

My fingers fly across my keyboard, finishing the deposition Marco needs before that vein on his forehead finally pops. “In your briefcase, along with copies of the court documents,” I reply.

My sensitive hearing picks up the click, click of the briefcase locks snapping open before the mad sound of rustling papers ensues. “I don’t have—”

“You have three pens and two highlighters in the small zippered compartment and a new legal pad in the side pocket,” I call out.


“Your cell phone is charging on the table behind you,” I remind him.

I hit print and swivel in my high back office chair, working quickly to stack the copies neatly into a folder. After taking one last sip of tea, I lift the folder and an extra-large cup of coffee and hurry into my boss’s office.

Marco welcomes me with a scowl, the motion joining his crazy caterpillar eyebrows. “You think you’re so smart, don’t you?” he asks.

“Yup. Happy Monday.” I place the deposition on his desk and hand him the cup of coffee the new administrative assistant dropped off. So far, Marco is the only attorney she hasn’t hit on.

“Drink up,” I tell him. “You’re due in court in an hour.” I play with the talisman around my neck, reassuring myself that Death can’t find me while I wear it.

I examine my boss and shake my head. Marco is roughly five feet, six inches tall, three hundred pounds and balding, and about as cuddly as a rabid raccoon living in a sewer. And here he sits, partner of the most prestigious law firm in the region and the best defense attorney in Jersey.

“What are you looking at?”

I motion to his face. “I told you to do something about your eyebrows.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my eyebrows.” He tries to smooth them, but the motion only ruffles them further.

“Marco, they look ready to sprout teeth and bite.” I push off the desk. “Let me trim them.”

Marco is one second away from releasing the brows like Zeus did the Kraken. “Do I strike you as someone who manscapes?”

“No. That’s part of the problem.” I sigh when the vein on his forehead pulsates. “You need to take pride in your appearance. If I didn’t have your suits and shirts dry-cleaned, you’d resemble a serial killer walking into court.”

My voice trails when I take in the creases lining his gray suit. It’s my turn to scowl. “Isn’t this the suit you wore Friday?” He doesn’t answer. “Marco!”

“You’re one to talk. Look at you. Your hair is one pot of gold shy of a leprechaun.”

I point a nasty finger at him. “Don’t make fun of the hair.”

As a pixie, I look human, the exception being my rainbow-colored locks. That’s right, blond hair intermixed with strands of pink, lavender, and blue. It’s not on purpose. My hair was this color from birth, long before we crossed over from the dying realm of Fae. Many PTA moms scolded my mother for “doing this” to me. Mama tried to change the color, so I’d blend in better among humans, but nothing worked. Hair dyes dried my hair and faded in mere hours, and organic products made my hair shimmer like fairy dust.

Between my hair and the Celtic cross tat on the base of my skull, everyone in school assumed I was Goth. Truthfully, I prefer pretty clothes and music I can dance to without risking an elbow to the face.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Marco snaps. “This suit cost two grand.”

“It might as well cost two dollars by the way you take care of yourself.”

I stomp in my pink kitten heels toward Marco’s closet and whip out a fresh suit, tie, and set of underclothes. After taking a good whiff, I also grab a stick of Right Guard. I set everything neatly in his private bathroom and poke my head out. “You still have time to shower before court. Do you want me to turn on the water—”

The scuff of expensive shoes along the marble tile floor alert me we’re no longer alone. Damn it. It’s Ryker. Doesn’t he have puppy kickers to defend?

Rock hard muscles bulge against his designer suit. When he’s not freeing predators back into society, he must spend his time in the gym.

Ryker squares his jaw hard enough to smooth the dimple on his chin. He’s not pleased to see me or the glare I peg him with. Still, he tilts his head in polite acknowledgment. “Olivia.”

I smooth the skirt of my long white sundress and walk toward Marco, ignoring Ryker. “Do you need anything else?”

Marco’s features soften as he addresses Ryker. “Sorry you had to wait, son. I was negotiating the Andrews case with opposing counsel when you first stopped in.”

That explains Marco’s prior screaming and swearing. Marco is the type who prefers coercion to tact, which makes his interactions with Ryker odd. Marco smiles at him, as in, genuinely smiles.

“Congratulations on the acquittal, boy,” Marco says to Ryker. “That was a hell of a job you did. Keep this up, and you’ll make junior partner within a year.”

“Thank you, sir. It was a challenging case, and I was grateful for the help.”

“You can have all the help you want, anytime you want it.” Marco’s smile fades. “Is something wrong? You seem upset.”

“I’m fine, sir,” the leech answers.

“You don’t seem fine. Would you like some coffee? Olivia would be happy to bring you a cup.”

“No, she wouldn’t,” I mutter, walking toward the door. “You have fifty minutes, Marco. Take a shower.”

I shut the door behind me, muffling their conversation. The glass offices may allow a full view in, but they’re soundproof, except to my sensitive ears. Marco and Ryker glance in my direction before resuming their conversation. I was rude in there, and I’m embarrassed about my behavior. There’s just something about Ryker that fires me up and puts me in a hideous mood…

I freeze when I glance toward Bill MacGregor’s office. Bill is the other partner and a Fae like me. Right now, he’s in serious trouble. The very slutty and very human admin is slinking closer to him. She leans over his desk, her tiny black skirt rising and exposing her butt cheeks.

Bill’s eyes widen, and he tries to scramble away. The admin doesn’t let him. She yanks him to her by his tie and stamps her lips to his.

Thunder booms, shaking the thirty-story building. Lightning blankets Bill’s office in a painful blare of white light. As the light fades, so does Bill’s glamour, revealing his true form.

Glistening mocha-colored skin envelops the boulder-sized muscles of the seven-foot-tall gargoyle. Dagger-length fangs, sleek and deadly, protrude from his terrifying maw as glider-sized wings expand, shadowing the terrified woman in darkness.

She screams, loudly, the thick glass mercifully silencing her terror. I leap from my chair when she face-plants on Bill’s mahogany desk and call to the administrative assistant in the cubicle beside mine. “Jane, clean up in aisle five.”

Jane and I are both Fae and the only staff with a front and center view of Bill’s office. We don’t get a lot of traffic on this side of the building. Everyone avoids Marco, and no one wants to risk accidentally killing Jane.

Humans only see Jane’s chosen glamor, that of a ninety-year-old woman with severe osteoporosis and one awkward step shy of a broken hip. For an eight-hundred-year-old druid priestess, Jane looks damn good. Unfortunately, she is ancient, and her hearing reflects it.

“Jane? Jane!”

I round back when she doesn’t hear me and shake her shoulder. “Jane!”

She stops her two-finger typing and blinks her tiny black eyes at me, speaking in her two-pack-a-day smoker voice. “Whhhat?”

“Clean up in aisle five,” I repeat.

I bolt to Bill’s office, making quick work of drawing the privacy shades. Bill is freaking out. His mammoth wings snap irritably, and his clawed hands wave in distress. “Why dith thee havvvv to kitth meeth? Goth. Damnth ith!” he hisses through his fangs.

“Your glamour form is smoking hot,” I remind him.

He scowls, his forked tongue dangling from his mouth.

“Did you have to pick that glamour?” I ask. I motion to the picture of him standing with the governor. “You resemble a young Laurence Fishburne with a goatee.”

“I lithe Lawrenth Fishburth,” he replies.

I pat his arm. “Try to relax and call it back.”

I draw the last shade that blocks the view into his office and stick my head out the door to check on Jane. She’s resumed her two-finger typing. On a good day, Jane can type ten words a minute. This doesn’t appear to be a good day.


“Whhhat?” she croaks.

“You’re needed in Bill’s office!” I holler. “Bring the big guns—the big guns, Jane!”

The slutty admin slides off Bill’s desk and falls to the floor with a thump. She groans, her forehead crinkling.

“Sheeth wakingth,” Bill says, panicking.

There’s no way he can recall his glamour in this state. “Jane, haul ass, sister girl!”

Jane glances over her shoulder and adjusts the black veil on her head. With the speed of molasses, she reaches for the candy cane striped wand she keeps in her pencil holder and shuffles toward us. Her black dress, two sizes too big, drags behind her tiny form.

The wand looks ridiculous clutched in her spotted hand. It’s not just the red and white stripes, it’s the red plastic heart complete with ribbons decorating the tip. Still, I wouldn’t mess with Jane’s wand. Our last temp tried to take it as a joke. Following a severe case of genital herpes and a beard so thick she looked ready to swing an ax, she was never heard from again.

Jane reaches Bill’s office with all the grace and speed of a snail. Unlike Bill, Jane isn’t panicked. She merely passes her wand over the admin, chanting in ancient Irish.

I try to make out the spell through her deep mumbles. It rings similar to the one she used to try to restore my magic.

Unlike the Fae who occupy this world, I don’t possess magic. My power and wings were ripped from me when my family and I crossed dimensions and into Earth’s realm.

Although I was young, I remember the pain.

The last time Jane attempted to resurrect my magic, I cried with frustration. Jane wiped my tears, speaking slowly. “You have something, Livvie,” she insisted. She smiled softly and pointed at my heart with her long, crooked finger. “What you seek is in there.”

I want to believe her. My family comes from a powerful line of pixies. It’s devastating to not possess even a wisp of their strength. It’s not that I think I need magic to feel more Fae. I just want something—anything—to strike back at those who robbed me of my family. Until then, all I can do is hide beneath the veil and protection of my talisman, just like the rest of my kind.

Glitter sprinkles from Jane’s wand as she shakes it over the admin’s face, freezing her in place when she abruptly wakes and tries to scream.

I scoot around them and toward the large windows. “Please alter her memory, Jane, and kindly tell her to stop being such a skank— Oh, and if you could, help Bill recall his glamour. He’s having a tough time settling.”

My voice trails as I peer through the window. Across the Hudson River, dark clouds crawl along the New York skyline, expanding quickly and morphing day into night.

My blood chills to ice, threatening to snap my bones. Death has found us. It’s coming. It’s coming now. But why?

The growing cluster of ominous clouds inks the sky. Jane stops her chanting, training her beady eyes toward the ceiling when the lights flicker. “Livvie,” she warns.

My fingers find my Celtic sister knot—the talisman that hides me from Death. It’s still there. I look at Jane. Her talisman dangles from her neck. So then…

Bill whirls left and right, knocking books from the shelves and sending the paperwork on his desk flying with the bat of his powerful wings. He falls to his knees when something on the floor catches his eye, the tips of his wings leaving deeps scrapes along the walls. Like a frantic cat, he scratches at the floor, trying to retrieve his broken watch.

I dive for the watch, Bill’s talisman. The links snapped from his wrist when he resumed his true form, damaging the magical charge that gives the veiling spell its power.

In the distance, I hear them, the cavernous roars of the Cù-Sìth death hounds, the form of Death that devoured my family.

I drop the watch into his hand and cover it with my palm. It doesn’t work. With each crash of encroaching thunder, the growls intensify. The Cù-Sìth are hungry. They need a soul, and it’s Bill’s they hunt.

The fluorescent bulbs explode, encasing the room in darkness. “Livvie…” Jane’s throaty voice carries fear I’ve never seen in her. “Ma-gic”

My pixie eyes adjust to the darkness, only to widen when I realize what Jane is asking. She wants me to call my lost mojo. Is she crazy? Now? We’ve spent countless hours trying to summon it only to fail each time.

Lightning flashes against the windows, illuminating the room. “Hurry,” Jane urges.

The talisman can’t conceal Bill from Death. It knows he’s here. With sweat-soaked hands, I anchor the links around Bill’s giant fingers, searching deep within me and attempting what feels impossible.

I scrunch my face, concentrating cocooning us in my aura.

Emptiness is all that greets me. I hold my breath, focusing harder.

The emptiness grows more pronounced. I open my eyes. Bill shakes his head, his pointy ears drooping as he motions for me to leave.

Tears blur my vision. “No, Bill.” Magic or not, I won’t leave him alone to die.

Thunder rattles the building, and the chorus of howls reach a mind-numbing crescendo. My eyes scan the office for something I can use to connect the links. I find a discarded roll of tape on the floor and lead Bill to it, both of us crouching low when we reach it.

I snap the roll from the dispenser, careful not to lose the end. With more speed than grace, I wind the tape around the watch and secure it to Bill’s wrist.

I run out of tape just as the first Cù-Sìth arrives.

Tendrils of dark green smoke slink through the window and snake their way around the desk, widening and solidifying into a bear-sized hound with shaggy green fur and glowing red eyes. His long-braided tail snaps like a whip, cracking the tension-filled air while paws as big as my head scrape their long claws against the tile.

Jane doesn’t move. I don’t even think she breathes. I can’t stop trembling, pleading for the good in the world to banish the hound from my sight.

Like the time I was ten, my pleas go unanswered.

The hound shoves his box-shaped head between Bill and me, his nose twitching until he latches onto a scent.

A hungry growl vibrates through the hound’s immense chest. Slowly, he turns toward Bill, meeting him square in his eyes. Drool drips from his needle-length fangs, falling against Bill’s shoulder and sizzling like acid. He licks the air near Bill’s throat. My trembles turn into full out convulsions. He sniffs again. He’s almost on top of us.

The hound’s gaze cuts to me when a small cry breaks through my quivering lips. He pauses, drawing in a deep breath and trailing his scorching ember eyes down my body. I’m certain he can sense me, until he looks past me toward the metal door where claws scrape again, and again, and again. More death hounds have arrived.

The hound between us returns his attention to where Bill kneels, curling the lips of his long snout into a hideous snarl. He senses Bill’s soul and wants it for himself. He sniffs again. He knows Bill is here. Like the strike of a cobra, the hound snaps at the air, puncturing through Bill’s face.

The cords of Bill’s neck strain as he struggles to contain his moans. I’m certain Bill is done for. But the magic from his talisman holds strong, veiling Bill’s presence and masking the taste of his blood.

Dark blood dribbles from the hound’s fangs, staining his dark green fur. I cup my hand over my mouth as the hound withdraws and I see what remains of my friend’s face.

Mangled skin dangles in flaps against Bill’s neck. It’s all I can do to keep from screaming. Talismans muffle sounds, but they have their limits, and nothing on earth will be able to silence the horror shredding my insides if I let loose.

Bill’s heavy hand encases my small one. He’s trying to comfort me and encouraging me to be strong. But how can I be strong when Death has arrived to tear him apart?

I jump when roars bellow behind the door. The pack of Cù-Sìth lingering outside is growing more insistent.

I press my hand tighter against my mouth to stifle my sobs. It’s not right for Bill to die this way. He’s good and kind. It’s not his time.

Two more hounds materialize like smoke through the door jamb, silencing my cries. These are swathed in matted white fur. They stalk around the office, growling and frantic to eat. One of them knocks into the green one as if demanding food. The green one barrels her over, perceiving her actions as a challenge. They fight like hungry beasts over a piece of meat, clawing, biting, and snarling.

More hounds arrive. They prowl restlessly, sniffing for prey and ignoring the fight. The white hound never stood a chance against the green. He dominates her, driving her into the opposite wall of the large office.

In one fierce move, the green hound flips over the female. He pins her to the floor and digs his fangs into her belly, tearing it open like rotting flesh. Souls spill from her gut in waves of translucent images. I recognize the faint forms of dwarves and fairies, their agonized faces pleading with me to help them.

Tears spill down my face. I wish I could help. But like the rest of my kind, there’s nothing I can do except hide.

The dead try to flee, except the remaining Cù-Sìth are too fast. The pack sweeps through the door like a raging fog of white and green, mauling the already damaged souls.

Bill and I wrench our faces away, unable to stand the terror-filled cries and slurping noises of the feasting hounds.

I steal a glance as the last of the shrieks die out, hoping they’re done. The hounds remain, raking their claws and scavenging for more. The spirits all are gone… except for one little Fae.

A sprite hides trembling in the corner of Bill’s Juris Doctorate diploma. But just as I see her, so do the hounds.

The Alpha who bit Bill’s face spots her first. He lunges, trampling over the others who try to intercept him. The little sprite shoots through the window, screaming in pain and fear.

In streams of white and dark green smoke, the hounds give chase. I want to race after her and help. But I no longer have wings to fly nor magic to save her. My pathetic attempts to summon my power proved as much.

I sniff meekly. The little sprite needs someone stronger than me.

I weep in silence for the souls that will never find peace and curse all forms of Death for filling their bellies instead of carrying their charge to eternal rest.

Bill and I rise carefully when the roars of the Cù-Sìth grow too faint to hear. He keeps his hand over mine until my trembling subsides and my tears stop falling, speaking kind words while his body mends his ravaged face and Jane’s enchantments repair the damage to the office.

With Jane’s help, Bill recalls his glamour. The moment his resemblance of Laurence Fishburne returns, Jane goes to work on repairing his talisman as only an Ancient can.

It takes time and an endless well of power to recharge damaged magic. Time Jane wouldn’t have without the makeshift band the tape provided. Forged from rare copper, gold, and silver found only in Fae and triggered by rare gemstones and diamonds from Fae mountains, talismans are a wonder. They serve to hide us and open the portals between our homeland and earth. Yet to open the portal, you must remove your talisman and risk a direct call to Death.

My father took that risk, and it cost him his soul.

Jane nods to Bill and lifts her wand when she finishes. He walks naked to the opposite wall tugging on links to test her work. It’s only when her magic seems to hold that the tension surrounding him eases.

Bill punches a small indiscriminate button hidden in the dark mahogany paneling. Two sets of doors part, unveiling a hidden bar. He pours a large helping of Irish whiskey into a glass and downs it, and another. He then removes a pair of pants and a fresh shirt from his closet. As soon as he dresses, he pours another drink and offers it to me.

“No, thank you, Bill.”

“Cathasach,” Jane spits through her teeth.

Bill nods. “I know.”

My gaze dances between them. “What?”

“The green Cù-Sìth,” he says. “The Alpha.” Bill tips back the glass, this time only taking a small hesitant sip. His hand is quivering. I didn’t notice it before. I see it now despite the shots of courage he poured down his throat. “Cathasach is the father of all the death hounds and the first to taste Life. It was he who convinced the other forms of Death to feed on the souls of the living.” He knocks back the glass, draining it of its amber fluid.

“The Cù-Sìth originally carried the souls of mountain Fae into the Afterlife,” I say, my tears close to the surface. “They were peaceful. I don’t understand how they became what we saw.”

Bill’s eyebrows knit tight, his anger momentarily shoving aside his fear. “It doesn’t matter what they were, only what they are, creatures who lack souls of their own with no conscience or respect for the Fae they consume. Did you see their size? They’re enormous from the plethora of spirits trapped within them. There’s no rationale. No pity. No pardon. No loyalty. Like all forms of Death, they’re selfish and their appetites insatiable. Look at how easily they turned on their own.”

He pours a fresh shot and brings it to Jane. She takes a few gulps and resumes her wand waving over the admin. “Tell her she’s fired,” Bill says, his deep voice laced with resentment.

Jane nods and tosses the rest of the liquor down her throat. I retrieve her glass and return it to the bar. It seems wrong to end our conversation this way, without hope or gentle words to remind us we’re safe. But this sense of safety is a momentary luxury, nothing that’s guaranteed. Even with our talismans, Death is never far away.

I try to leave the office and this experience behind. Bill’s deep baritone halts my sluggish steps, keeping me in place. “Olivia, Cathasach knew you were here. The way he took you in, somehow he knew.”

My response is almost robotic. “We’ve met before. I just didn’t know his name.”

Jane stops chanting. Bill chokes on his next sip of whiskey. He rushes to me and grips my arms. “You met him before today?”

I nod, shaking from the force of his trembles. “Twice,” I admit.

The color drains from his face. “Listen to me, Olivia. Do not remove your talisman, ever,” he whispers tightly. “If you escape a hound more than once, you become more than prey, you become an obsession. He’ll want you and not stop until he finds you.”

This is the last thing I need to hear. I break free and run from the room. In my haste, I slam into Ryker.

I bounce off his broad torso and land hard on my ass. Shock parts my lips. Considering I’m the one sprawled on the marble tile, he seems plenty pissed.

Perspiration feathers his forehead and his chest rises and falls in furious bursts. He clenches his fists, his blue eyes searing as he looms over me.

By the way his imposing form takes me in, I should be terrified. Mostly, I’m baffled by his rage.

I try to stand, feeling vulnerable. Before I can make it to my feet, Ryker storms away.

©Unearthed, Death Seeker #1, Cecy Robson, LLC 2019

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Cecy Robson is an author of contemporary and new adult romance, young adult adventure, and award-winning urban fantasy. A double-nominated RITA® Finalist, Winner of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and published author of more than twenty titles, you can typically find Cecy on her laptop or stumbling blindly in search of caffeine.

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