Title: King of Hearts (Kings of Karmichael #1)
Author: R.H. Tucker
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Derrik Tyler has it all. He’s a world-famous rock star with a legion of adoring fans and has obtained teen idol status. He even has a Hollywood starlet who wants nothing more than to be the only girl in his life. It’s a publicity stunt only his band knows about, but that’s not detracting her from trying to turn their fake relationship into a real one. Yep, he has it all. Except the girl who stole his heart before his life turned into a rock n’ roll rollercoaster.
Zoey Jacobs has been friends with Derrik and the Kings of Karmichael, since before they became the hottest band in the world. She even dated Derrik before he was known as the King of Hearts—the biggest teen heartthrob in the last decade. But that’s all in the past. She’s just a few short months away from graduating high school and moving on to college.
When spring break rolls around, Derrik invites Zoey along for the last leg of the band’s tour. What should be an amazing road trip turns into Derrik’s personal mission to win back his first love. But can two people from different worlds reignite a past relationship, or is a teen icon and a future college freshman too big of a gap to cross?
King of Hearts is the first book in the Kings of Karmichael series. The series is interconnected, but each book can be read as a standalone.
Excerpt from King of Hearts
© 2019 R.H. Tucker
~~ ZOEY ~~
The crowd is insane. I knew it would be.
Johnny’s house band plays out the rest of the show, and the lights start to dim as the cameras turn off. Becca and I get up from our seats, with Landon standing up next to us.
“Can you believe this reaction?” Becca asks, laughing.
“Of course I can,” I reply with a giggle of my own. “Becca, you saw them last year just before the tour kicked off. They had that signing at MaxMart where the line circled around the store and down the street.”
“Right.” She nods. “I can’t believe they stayed there four hours past the time they were scheduled.”
“That’s why the King’s Court loves them.” I shrug, laughing again.
“I don’t get it,” Landon remarks. “It’s just Derrik and EJ. I went to school with them since sixth grade.”
I pat his shoulder, staring at him like he’s a lost puppy. “Oh, Landon. It’s okay. You don’t have to be intimidated by the mass of hysterical girls screaming.”
He rolls his eyes with a smirk and is just about to reply when, on cue, the girls start shrieking again. I look and find Maddox and EJ making their way over to sign autographs. Jade and Derrik wait near the curtain that blocks off the backstage area, and Derrik motions over to me.
“Come on.” I tap Becca’s arm, and we head down the stairs. Landon stays at the edge of the aisle before turning around to head up the stairs. “You’re not coming?”
“Naw.” He shakes his head. “I’ll meet you guys in the gift shop. I told my mom I’d get her something.”
“Okay.” I offer him a smile and then head down to the barrier between the stage area and the audience.
“Sorry, you can’t go this way,” a large security guard says, stopping us. He’s at least a foot taller than us, stout, and his brow nearly forms a unibrow, which seems to be stuck in place in a scowl.
“Oh, I know him.” I point to Derrik, who’s now looking at something behind the curtain.
The guard glances back and then stares at me like I’m crazy. “Yeah, sure you do.”
“Derrik,” I call out.
Turning around, he sees the scene and smirks. As he starts jogging over to us, more of the girls off to the side begin shrieking louder than before, and bum-rush Becca and me.
“Hey, it’s cool,” he tells the security guard. “They’re with me.” The guard does a double take, then nods and lets us in. “Head backstage, behind the curtain,” Derrik tells us. “I’ll be right there.” We both nod and head off in the direction he points. I glance back and see all of the fans jumping up and down, and Derrik begins laying on his charm. “Hey, girls. Enjoy the show?”
I can’t comprehend one answer they give as they all scream on top of the other, and Becca starts laughing. Walking back behind the curtain, we find Jade talking on her phone. When she sees us, she waves with a smile.
“No, I seriously don’t want to talk about that again,” she says sternly into her phone. “Yes, I know, but the Kings are where my priority is. Yeah. Thanks.” She hangs up her phone, letting out a sigh and shaking her head. “Sorry.”
I lean over to her and give her a hug. She’s dressed in some of her usual skinny jeans that are ripped, and a purple tank top. “You look amazing, Jade. Everything okay?”
“Thanks,” she replies, giving Becca a hug next. “Yeah, it’s good. It’s just Bret.” She rolls her eyes when she says her boyfriend’s name. “He’s always asking about meeting with new management and stuff.”
Becca rolls her eyes. “Is he still trying to get you to hook his band up with a deal? Tell him to suck on one.”
The insult breaks the tension that Jade seems to be carrying, and we all start laughing. “Maybe I will,” she answers. “How are you guys? I can’t believe I haven’t seen you since before Christmas last year. Now it’s spring break.” She shakes her head in disbelief. “Pretty soon, no more high school.”
“Yeah.” I smile. “You don’t miss it?”
“A little.” She shrugs. “But I wouldn’t give this up for anything. It’s amazing.”
“Hey, sorry,” Derrik says, rushing over and giving me a hug. “Gotta work the crowd, you know?”
“I’m sure Maddox is working it enough for all of us,” Jade jokes. “Peter wants us in the limo in twenty, so I’m gonna head over there.”
“Okay, cool.” Derrik nods. Becca and I give her a hug again, and she heads toward the exit. “So, how’d you guys like the show?”
“It was okay.” I shrug with a smile. “You were a little pitchy.”
Becca laughs. “Yeah. Landon isn’t a fan either.”
“Landon!” Derrik exclaims, raising a finger. “I wasn’t sure who that was, and now that you say the name, I remember. I think I had algebra with him freshman year. You gave him the extra ticket?” he asks me, and I nod. “I would’ve thought your mom would’ve brought you guys.”
“We were talking at lunch, and when I told him, he offered,” I explain. “He got a brand-new Mercedes from his parents as an early graduation-slash-birthday gift.”
“Oh.” A line from overs his brow. “Where is he?”
“Like I said, not a fan.” Becca giggles, and I do my best to hold back one of my own, watching the slight jealous scowl flash over Derrik’s face.
We’ve known each other since middle school. Sophomore year we started dating. Then, when he and the others began home studies before they all decided to take a GED and just focus on the band, we were still going out junior year. When they had to leave last year to start on this world tour they’ve embarked on, I knew it couldn’t keep going. Long-distance relationships never work, especially when someone is a world-famous rock star. Still, we’ve stayed in contact through online and texting. And I do still care about him.
Becca’s face drops. Following her line of vision, as she stares over Derrik’s shoulder, I see Danica Parker walking toward us.
Johnny wasn’t lying during the show that she’s the hottest star on the planet right now. She transformed a silly YouTube sketch comedy show she started in middle school into a nationally televised and streaming series. The first season of her show just ended, and the season finale scored the highest ratings of any primetime show in the last five years. People love her. And it doesn’t hurt that even at seventeen, she comes across as a mature and savvy Hollywood powerhouse. She knows the game and plays it to a T, able to get almost anything she wants. Which includes Derrik.
“Wow, I didn’t know she was keeping you on a leash,” I tease him, whispering over to him.
“Very funny,” he retorts.
“Derrik.” She wraps her arm around his, not even acknowledging Becca and me. “Come on, finish signing autographs, and let’s go. My publicist wants us to make an appearance across town at a super-hot restaurant.”
“Danica, these aren’t fans,” Derrik reprimands her, pulling his arm free from hers.
I glance over at Becca, who scowls at Danica. She looks insulted and jealous, both of which she’s told me—on multiple occasions—I should be feeling with all the rumors and pictures floating around about them.
It’s not like I’ve never been jealous over Danica. Not of her fame, but of this relationship that she wants with Derrik, and she seems so driven to acquire.
I try to push any and all thoughts of jealousy away, though. Derrik and I went out, but he’s not mine anymore. I called it off for a good reason. And now, the Kings are the hottest rock band on the planet. I’m a high school senior, and I’ll be starting college in the fall. We live in completely different worlds. But it’s nice to see him from time to time and see that he hasn’t changed.
“Oh.” Danica gives us both a blank stare. “Awesome, I’d literally kill for a Diet Coke right now.”
“Really?” Becca retorts, smirking. “Literally? You’d literally kill for a Diet Coke?”
“What?” Danica stares at Becca with an unknowing gaze, and I’m doing my best to hold back a laugh. Glancing at Derrik, I discover he’s doing the same.
“They don’t work here either,” Derrik says. “They’re my friends. I invited them.”
Taking us in again, she stares back at Derrik with a look that tells me she isn’t sure if he’s joking or not. Not in a ha-ha kind of way, but with an expression that says that both of them are above the small people now.
“Whatever. Let’s go already.”
“I’m supposed to head back to the hotel.”
“No, I had Debbie talk to Peter. Your band will go back, but we’re going to the restaurant. Hurry up, pumpkin.”
She smiles widely, tapping her finger to Derrik’s nose. Without another glance at Becca or me, she flicks her platinum blonde hair over her shoulder. Spinning on her pink and silver Prada heels—which I hate to admit, are really cute—she walks back down the hallway.
“Sorry about that.”
“Seriously, Derrik?” Becca glares at him. “That girl is a total bitch. Why are you putting on this show?”
I’ve told Becca all about the setup Derrik has with Little Miss Thing. It’s supposed to not only be great for her show but gain even more exposure for the Kings. Like they need any more; they’ve been on multiple magazine covers, daytime talk shows, nighttime talk shows, and YouTube channels with millions of subscribers. The Kings are everywhere. So, I jab a finger in his ribs, giggling.
“Because she’s hot and you’re hot, and two insanely hot teen idols are unstoppable. Right?”
“Stop.” He pushes my hand away, laughing. “I’m not a teen idol.”
“Oh, sorry. Teen icon. That is the name of your album, isn’t it?”
Becca starts laughing, and Derrik continues to blush. “That was all Peter’s idea, you know that. I was happy with calling it Album Number Two. So next week is spring break, right?”
“Yasss!” Becca waves her hands high. “We are going to my aunt’s in Huntington Beach. It’s going to be ah-may-zing!”
Derrik laughs. “I bet. I had a proposition for you, though, Z.”
“Not even twenty-one, and you’re propositioning girls already? Tsk-tsk.” Becca starts giggling, earning one from myself.
“Huntington Beach is amazing, but how about coming out on tour with us for these last few shows?” he asks.
His words stop both of us in our tracks. “Are you serious?”
He nods. “I talked with the rest of the band, and they’re totally cool with it. We all know you, and Jade is hoping you’ll say yes so she’s not the only girl around most of the time.”
He laughs, but I’m still stunned. “I mean … that would be fantastic, but I don’t know if my mom would—”
“I already asked. She said yes.”
“Yeah. Come on, you know your mom loves me.” He casually throws his arm around my shoulders.
I fight off the feelings I always have to battle with when I’m next to him. Glancing back at Becca, my wide eyes find hers, as she jumps up and down in excitement. “Would you hate me if I ditched the beach next week?”
“Girl!” She pushes my shoulder. “I’d hate you if you don’t go on tour with them. You better send me tons of pics.”
“So?” He leans a little closer.
I see those ocean blue eyes that make every girl in the crowd melt. They’ve always had the same effect on me. And no doubt being around the band would be amazing. Traveling to their last tour stops, hanging out with Jade, and getting to be around Derrik. But I called us off for a reason. Being around him might bring up all those old feelings I still remember. Plus, there are other things in play that he doesn’t know about. Things I probably should’ve told him a long time ago.
“Are you going to make me beg, Z?” He removes his arm from my shoulders, only to stand in front of me. Lowering a few inches, he comes down to my height, so we’re at even eye level. “I haven’t had to beg you since we went to homecoming sophomore year.”
He grins, and it makes me giggle, breaking up my debating thoughts. Finally, finding some semblance of coherency, I return his grin. “On one condition.”
“You only get me Diet Cokes. Pumpkin.”
About R.H. Tucker
RH Tucker writes cute & edgy YA romance. He also lives in Southern California, consumes too much caffeine, eats too much pizza, and firmly believes Rocky Road is the best flavor of ice cream.
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Title: Off the Record (Anti-Belle #2)
Author: Skye McDonald
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Not even Nashville’s summer heat can match the sizzle of first love.
Nick Field’s motto is “live free.” The huge promotion at work is great, but producing a pop star’s debut album isn’t going to change his life or anything. There’s always room for unwinding and having fun.
Mel Thomas works 24/7 as the media manager to America’s newest heartthrob. Building his image and writing her career make-or-break article are the stories of the summer. There’s no room to go off script.
Ten years ago, Nick and Mel were high school sweethearts. Reunited by chance, what should’ve been ancient history reignites into a passionate present. Too bad there’s no future in it.
Excerpt from Off the Record
© 2019 Skye McDonald
“Go into the studio; mics are on.”
I stashed the phone. “What makes you think I want to sing?”
“Just a guess.”
Nick’s sly smile ended my resistance quick. I heaved a dramatic sigh, stomped across the room to lean over him and type, and then yanked open the studio door. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
He laughed. “Yeah, you can. Go for it.”
Magical energy struck me again as soon as I walked in. The walls practically hummed with the music they’d soaked in over the years. Memories and unlimited potential crackled in the air like ions. With few inhales, the magic was in my bloodstream.
I was no musical prodigy, though, just a girl whose mother taught choir when she was a kid. Instead of tapping talent and creativity, Studio A turned my brain waves from an organized map into doodles and swirls.
I released a shaky breath and walked to the front microphone. Music filled the room. The opening line of “Son of a Preacher Man” trembled out of my mouth, but my voice grew stronger the more I sang. Hands on my head, I swished my hips to the beat and almost kissed the microphone as I belted the lyrics to the very last note.
The song faded away. In the silence, I opened my eyes and dared to look through the window. Nick was reclining in his chair, but he leaned forward and spoke into the com. “That was perfect. What next, Melody?”
I stood behind the mic and watched him watch me. I thought about how my stomach jumped every day when he appeared in the lounge, and how I pretended not to care.
I thought of his kiss.
To be fair, I’d thought about it nonstop since it happened, but when Nick tilted his head at my silent reverie, I really thought about it. Then, I stopped thinking.
“Um, I want...” I whispered with a thick swallow. My hand floated to my skirt, dragging the hem up my thigh with a tickling touch.
Am I really doing this?
About Sky McDonald
Skye spent a lot of her adolescence dreaming about living in a hip, urban town full of adventures that occurred outside of the local mall. (Hers was Rivergate, in case you know Nashville well!) Now that she’s been living away from Nashville for years, the once sleepy Southern city has become just that place, and she returns to visit whenever she can. Her seven-novel-and-growing Anti-Belle series is centered in her hometown, partly as a homage and partly because these days Nashville is too hip to ignore.
In the real world, Skye is an English teacher in Brooklyn, New York, and has lived there long enough to consider herself a true New Yorker—even though she proudly cheers for the Tennessee Vols (her alma mater) and loves being a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South).
Skye's philosophy is to live with your heart and mind open. She believes in the beauty of this world and seeks adventure and joy as a daily practice. If "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans," as John Lennon said, then she'd rather leave the schedule open and let life happen.
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Title: The Last Atlantian
Author: Mikki Noble
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Spencer did not plan to work on her birthday. She didn’t plan a lot of things, but they happened anyway. Like, when she touched a guy and he turned into a gold statue, or when some stranger appeared to tell her she was in danger. She didn’t plan to see her life forever changed by one simple act, and it still happened anyway.
What Spencer doesn’t know is why. Why is all this happening to her? Why does she have the power to turn people into gold all of a sudden. Who is she really?
And why is this cute guy calling her the last Atlantian?
Excerpt from The Last Atlantian
© 2019 Mikki Noble
Spencer opened her eyes and looked around the busy coffee shop. Almost every table was full, and Cia had a very frantic look on her face. There was a line-up to the front door and almost all the tables were full of chatty people.
“Cia?” Spencer shouted, running over to her friend. “You’re here. And you’re okay.”
“You’re late,” Cia answered as she handed a customer their change.
“Um…” What? Cia knew very well that Spencer wasn’t late and why was she acting like that? Normal? After everything that had happened, why wasn’t she just as freaked out as Spencer was?
Cia walked over to the fridge and pulled out the soy milk. “Don’t just stand there. Get to work. I need your help.”
“But nothing. I’ve been slammed for over an hour. I know it’s your birthday but you need to help me.”
Spencer sighed and decided not to argue with her friend. It would be utterly pointless anyway. Maybe she could use a little normal after her morning, although she had a hard time letting it all go. Who was to say those evil, gold robed people wouldn’t come back again, or that creepy guy?
No, the shop was full of people. And… Spencer realized that the gold statue was gone.
Yes, a normal day of work might actually get her mind of the crazy of the day.
This location was home to a local writer, who came in for her morning coffee and would write for a couple hours. She was seated at her usual table in the corner, not looking up once at the crowd. She was here every day, so it didn’t get more normal than that. Spencer figured she would just take the rest of the day one moment at a time and pray that nothing else weird happened. “Where do you want me, boss?”
“Take the next order. I’ve got this one,” Cia answered in a clipped tone.
Even though she didn’t want to, Spencer went around the counter to help with coffee orders. Just because it was her birthday and a bunch of weird things had been happening, didn’t mean that she would leave her best friend alone with a crowd and a line-up. More normal for Spencer to concentrate on.
Cia glared at her as Spencer grabbed a mug—noticing right away that the burnt spot, the one where that guy had thrown a fire ball, only narrowly missing her head, was gone.
“Hurry up. What’s wrong with you today?”
It was Spencer’s turn to glare. “I’m going.”
Maybe she could convince herself that it was all some strange, elaborate dream and make it through the day that way. That’s what Spencer decided to do. Apparently, that was how Cia had decided to cope. So why not?
Over the next few hours, Spencer had finally been able to convince herself that it was a dream. It had to be. Although it wasn’t like her to have crazy dreams like that, she liked that idea better and just tried to forget it. It only took a couple cappuccino’s, a lot of repetitive thought, and a busy coffee shop to convince her.
Jeremy never came in, though; that was strange. He came into the coffee house every single day, rain or shine, but she didn’t worry too much about it. She didn’t want to freak out. Maybe he was just away or got stuck at work. Whatever. She didn’t care to see him anyway.
“Wow. That was one heck of a day,” Cia said several hours later, while turning off the open sign.
Spencer looked up at her from the dishwasher and said, “Yeah. Maybe they shouldn’t have left us alone on Friday the 13th. Apparently, people need their coffee today of all days.”
Cia laughed. “Yeah, that must be it.”
“At least it went by fast, right?” After all, she’d only been there a few hours when it was time to close the shop. At least, it felt that way.
Spencer pulled the garbage bag that smelled of coffee grounds and stale milk from the trash can and tied it closed, then tossed it in front of the back door before putting her jacket on and heading outside. It was cooler now that the sun was lowering, but not too bad. As she tossed the garbage bag into the bin, Spencer got a terrible chill along her spine and the hairs on her neck stood up. She was overcome with a need to run for the coffee shop. The moment she was inside, Spencer locked the door behind her and rushed to check on Cia.
Cia was standing at the till, counting money. Spencer let out a huge breath and pressed a palm to her heart, as if that would ease the beat. “I’m almost done here,” Cia said. “Why don’t you head home and try to salvage the rest of your birthday? Maybe you can do something fun.”
That was all Spencer had wanted all day, was to go home, but for some reason, she didn’t feel like leaving Cia alone. “Aren’t you coming over anyway?”
“Yeah, I was planning on it, but it might be a while and I have to pick up my little brother from his friend’s and drop him off at home. I don’t want you stuck here for another hour.”
“I wouldn’t feel right. Maybe there’s something I can help with.”
“Go,” Cia demanded. “You’ve worked hard enough. Everything will be great. I’ll see you around six, I think.”
Spencer almost protested but her phone rang. Since it was so quiet in the coffee shop, she could hear it all the way from the locker. It had been in there all day, which was unlike her. She normally carried her phone around, but it had been so busy, she’d forgotten to grab it earlier. She walked through the kitchen area and continued down the back hallway where a set of lockers were bolted to the wall. The phone continued to ring the entire time. Spencer grabbed the lock, spun the combo and opened the door just as the ringing stopped.
She pulled it from her purse, noticed it was her mother, and decided to call her back on the way home. She untied her apron and tossed it inside, grabbed her purse and her sweater before slamming the door.
Her phone started to ring again.
This time she answered it on the second ring. If she didn’t, her mom would just keep calling. “Hello?”
“How’s my birthday girl? How was your shift?”
“It was fine, Mom. What’s up?”
Spencer rolled her eyes. Her mother never called for ‘nothing.’ “Right. Now, what’s the real reason?”
“I really hate to ask you this, but can you pick up some milk on the way home? I’m sorry. I need it for dinner. Otherwise, I wouldn’t ask. Oh, and some parmesan, and some oregano, while you’re there.”
Spencer groaned. Luckily, her mom didn’t ask for much, so she just said yes and hung up the phone. She made her way back to the front where Cia was still standing at the till counting. She was a quick counter, but she was so noisy with the coins. Spencer didn’t know how she did it, but she slammed those coins down like a sledgehammer on a gong.
When Cia finished with the dollar coins, Spencer stepped in. “My mom called. I have to pick up some groceries on the way home.”
“I see. Go get the milk and I’ll meet you at your place a little bit after.”
Cia nodded. Already ignoring Spencer, she moved on to the quarters. Spencer left, not saying anything else, except, “Make sure to lock this door behind me.”
It would be dark in about an hour and it would take her almost half that to get milk and walk home. She wished her parents weren’t so busy and they could at least pick her up.
So far, if she was being honest, it was a sucky birthday.
Oh, well. Spencer made a vow then. Next year will be great. Next year, she’d be surrounded by her friends, she wouldn’t have to work, and hopefully she’d have her car by then. How much could a car cost? A year’s coffee money, plus tips should get her something at least.
She’d been working at the coffee shop for almost three months and she’d saved every penny so far, except for what it cost to rent the uniform. Spencer was just happy her best friend’s parents owned the coffee shop and hired her, no questions asked. If Spencer had to go out and get a job, go for interviews and make a resume, she wasn’t sure she’d have gotten hired.
The streets were quiet for a Friday. It could have been peoples’ superstitions keeping them inside. Spencer had never cared about those things. Not that she didn’t believe. She just didn’t concentrate on them very much.
Did she have exceptionally bad luck on Friday the 13th? She didn’t think so.
Although, with the way today was going, maybe she did.
Her birthday didn’t land on Friday very often anyway. She shouldn’t read too much into it. Today was just not her day.
It took her ten minutes to reach the store. Spencer reached for the cool metal handle of the cooler and yanked the door open. She grabbed the jug and the other items on the list and made it all the way to the counter before realizing she had no money on her. She’d forgotten to grab her tip money off the counter. She checked every pocket in her jacket and found nothing. Then she reached into her jeans pocket and found a set of keys that weren’t hers.
She gasped and swore as an icy cool feeling sunk in and reached straight to her core.
Creepy guy’s keys. The ones he’d dropped on the floor.
It had definitely not been a dream.
About Mikki Noble
As far back as she can remember, Mikki was creating characters and stories in her head. It wasn’t until fate brushed the tip of its wings over her eyes that she began to see that writing was what she was born to do. She loves animals, reading, everything supernatural related, and enjoys spending her free time on social media whenever she can.
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Title: The Gilded Stone (Dark Tides #5)
Author: Candace Osmond
Genre: Time Travel Romance
Make a choice. Go back in time. Save them from the devil…
What good is a happily ever after if it’s all ripped away by the hands of a devilish siren?
When Dianna’s children go missing, she and Henry are left with no choice but to do something they swore they’d never do again…travel back to the 1700s. But with their children’s lives in the hands of an unpredictable siren, they must make a hasty decision; trust that the sea creature will return their kids…or find a way to go back in time and risk never coming home again.
They soon realize they’ll have to travel further than they’ve ever gone; beyond our world to the mythical realm of Faerie to save their children. A task easier said than done. The rumored entrance lays across the ocean. They needed a ship.
And a crew…
In hopes of saving the family they started in the future, Dianna and Henry must search for the family they left behind in the past and travel across the sea to an unknown world. But four years is a long time and things aren’t quite as they left them.
Can they sail across the sea and uncover the entrance to Faerie before it’s too late? Or will they find themselves broken hearted and lost in time with nowhere to go?
Fans of OUTLANDER and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN are obsessed with Dark Tides! One-click The Gilded Stone, book five in the #1 International Bestselling Series today!
About Candace Osmond
Bestselling Author and freelance writer/editor, Candace Osmond was born in North York, ON.
She published her first book by the age of 25, the first installment in a Paranormal Romance trilogy to which two others were published with it; The Iron World Series.
Candace is also one of the creative and AVN Award nominated writers for www.sssh.com, an acclaimed Erotic Romance website for women which has been featured on NBC Nightline and a number of other large platforms.
Aside from fiction, Candace is also an award winning Interior Designer and writer for Adorable Home Magazine.
Now residing in a small town in Newfoundland with her husband and two kids, Candace writes full time developing articles for just about every niche, more novels, and a hoard of short stories.
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Title: Daughter of Rage and Beauty (Berzerker Academy #1)
Author: Amy Pennza
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
The sagas claim you can’t fight fate. I’m determined to prove them wrong.
They say your twenties are supposed to be the best years of your life.
Clearly, they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Because right now, my life is in shambles. As the daughter of one of the most powerful berserkers in the world, I should be taking my place among the noble guild of berserker assassins. By now, I should have mastered my emotions and conquered my rage—all the better to use it as a weapon when called upon to kill.
But I’m not just Harald Berregaard’s daughter. My mother was a nymph, which makes me a magical mutt. When I was born, my father thought I might possess the best traits from both races.
He was wrong.
Now he’s shipping me off to the Berserker Academy, where the unofficial motto is “graduate or die.”
With the stakes this high, I can’t afford to get distracted. Too bad the academy’s headmaster keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments, reminding me how much I suck at magic. And fighting. And basic conversation.
It doesn’t matter that he does it with a smile. Or that his eyes fire silver when he’s amused . . . or aroused. Hauk Sigridsson has his own problems. He’s not going to be one of mine.
On the other hand, he’s offered me a way to accelerate my studies and make it out of the academy alive. I just have to help him steal a priceless rock and defeat one of the most powerful immortals to have ever lived.
No big deal.
I’m in way over my head, but I’m determined to survive. They say you can’t fight fate. I’m going to show fate exactly what I’m made of.
About Amy Pennza
Amy Pennza has been a lawyer, a soldier, and a copywriter. She's worn combat boots and high heels in the same 24-hour period--and she definitely prefers flip flops. Actually, she prefers going barefoot while writing steamy romances about strong women and alpha men with hearts of gold. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and more baskets than any one person should own. (You can never have enough.)
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Title: Home for Christmas
Author: Ann Grech
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christmas Romance
Fate threw him a wicked twist. Or maybe it was the magic of Christmas. Maybe it was just going home.
T’was the night before Christmas—three actually—and there was nothing quiet about the club Declan found himself at. The superhero-themed masquerade party was the one thing he’d been looking forward to when he’d been summoned home for Christmas. He usually kept a safe distance between him and his family. It was easier to hide his secret that way. Being gay wasn’t the only thing he was hiding. The truth was far worse—he’d fallen for his stepbrother, Ollie.
The night of the masquerade party saw his world was flipped upside down by an enticing stranger. He’d never be the same again. The two men came together when they both needed it most. What followed was one seriously sexy pre-Christmas set of fireworks exploding between them. But he was soon alone again, sitting in an apartment full of beautiful, rich people who only wanted to know him because of his stepfather’s bank account. Declan’s love of the holidays was wavering, and he was regretting his trip home.
Then Ollie walked in, and everything became a whole lot more complicated. Declan was torn—unable to get the sexy, nameless stranger out of his head and Ollie out of his heart.
Going home for Christmas would either break him or… well, Declan didn’t have that quite figured out.
Home For Christmas is a stand-alone, Christmas gay romance by Ann Grech featuring a steamy one night stand, a closeted hero, wrestling stepbrothers, numerous references to Woody and Buzz, singing in the shower and a feel good second chance romance.
Excerpt from Home for Christmas
© 2019 Ann Grech
I glanced at the text from Dad. Come home for Christmas. A second one lit up my screen. Please. I shook my head and dropped my cell on the bed next to me. I’d deal with it later. The final draft of my honors dissertation lay spread around me in a disorganized mess, and I was frazzled. I was on the cusp of handing it in; this read-through was supposed to be a final one to check for flow before it went to the editor to pick up any spelling and grammar errors. Then, all things going well, I’d be submitting it to my professor after I returned from my sojourn to Turks and Caicos for my Christmas and New Year break. I was so close I could taste it. Except that this draft was a mess. I had to read every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter again to make sure I’d captured all the revisions. I was exhausted, but I needed it done.
I wanted warm sun, sparkling clear blue ocean, hammocks, and cocktails. Music and a good book. Lazy days and nights filled with parties. Not cold wind, rain on a good day or sleet on a cold one, and big wig corporates. I dealt with them every time I returned home to pack in a few weeks of work experience during breaks, so I’d prefer to stay away from them on the one holiday I took a year.
I was just about to pick up my cell and rain on Dad’s parade when he called. The screen lighting up and the buzzing of my muted phone made me jump like a startled jackrabbit, and I scrambled to pick it up. Laughing at my frazzled self, I swiped to answer and greeted my dad.
“Son, how are you?” he asked warmly.
“Good. Tired. Needing a break. Take your pick.” I yawned. It was late, and I’d been at it for hours.
“I thought you were almost finished.”
“I was, but I’ve screwed up something in the document and lost hours of work.” I sighed and scrubbed my hand over my face. I needed another coffee, but if I had more now, I wouldn’t sleep for a week.
“Will you get it done before you fly out?”
I huffed out a laugh. “To where? A beautiful tropical island where I can defrost and relax, or home to weather that’s as cold as New York?”
“We’d love you to come home,” he replied.
“So, this has nothing to do with you trying to make up for last Christmas?” My skepticism was obvious.
Dad hesitated. I had him pegged all right. “Can you blame me?” he asked. I couldn’t. He’d been called into work and had been stuck there most of Christmas Eve and late into the day on Christmas Day. He’d managed to save the few hundred jobs riding on his own, but it had come at the expense of Christmas Day with his wife. At lease Dad was going to make sure it didn’t happen again this year. Even if it did mean that he needed me there rather than where I really wanted to be.
“No, I can’t blame you.” I sighed again. “But I need this break, Dad.”
“Your brother’s coming.” I groaned. If he was going, I couldn’t say no…
About Ann Grech
By day Ann Grech lives in the corporate world and can be found sitting behind a desk typing away at reports and papers or lecturing to a room full of students. She graduated with a PhD in 2016 and is now an over-qualified nerd. Glasses, briefcase, high heels and a pencil skirt, she's got the librarian look nailed too. If only they knew! She swears like a sailor, so that's got to be a hint. The other one was "the look" from her tattoo artist when she told him that she wanted her kids initials "B" and "J" tattooed on her foot. It took a second to register that it might be a bad idea.
She's never entirely fit in and loves escaping into a book--whether it's reading or writing one. But she's found her tribe now and loves her MM book world family. She dislikes cooking, but loves eating, can't figure out technology, but is addicted to it, and her guilty pleasure is Byron Bay Cookies. Oh and shoes. And lingerie. And maybe handbags too. Well, if we're being honest, we'd probably have to add her library too given the state of her credit card every month (what can she say, she's a bookworm at heart)!
She also publishes her raunchier short stories under her pen name, Olive Hiscock.
Ann loves chatting to people online, so if you'd like to keep up with what she's got going on:
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Shielding Shelly is one of my favorites from the Gold Coast Retrievers - so far. Shelly was an absolute doll of a woman, and I loved her resilience and ability to give to those around her. She’s running from something in her past - something that hurt her, and it has tracked her down. Her support animal, Jake (I may have fallen for Jake because he reminded me of a Black Lab I had as a kid), was always there for her, anticipating her anxiety and panic attacks, and making sure that she really was OK.
Max is a mystery author. I love when authors put authors as characters in their books. He’s a sweetheart that always seems to be on the outside looking in as he people watches and dreams up the next mystery for his books. But Shelly brings him out of his shell, with the help of a cute little girl she helps watch, and they find themselves opening up to each other.
Shelly’s past was a really nice and suspenseful backdrop to the growing romance between Shelly and Max. It was something that she needed to face and overcome, and Max was right there with her as she did it. They make an incredible couple, and I really hope to see them pop up in future books in the series.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
I did not like Nicole Hawkins. She made a brief and very unappealing appearance in a previous Gold Coast Retrievers story, and she left a bad taste behind. Becky Muth does a great job of trying to redeem her, even bringing in the prior couple to forgive and sort of awkwardly befriend her, but it didn’t work for me.
Her co-star in the romance, Arnold, seemed very flat. He was loads of fun in the previous book, and I was excited to see a story for him. I hate to say his pet stole the show (and it wasn’t even the dog co-star). In fact, the dog co-star is seen very little and there were times I wondered if this really fits in the series.
What I did like a lot was the positive message the book tried to convey regarding scarring and injuries. Nicole faces a lot of adversity after she almost dies in a fire and is horribly burned. The scenes of her dealing with the aftermath - while a bit quick - were heartwarming and allowed me to start disliking her a little bit less.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
Title: Meet Me in the Strange
Author: Leander Watts
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
2019 IPPY SILVER MEDALIST – YOUNG ADULT
Meet Me in the Strange is an intoxicating adventure set in a glittery, retro-futuristic world of glam rock, spectral aliens, and gender-bendy teens. Davi is mesmerized by a girl at a concert, who appears to lose herself in the power of the otherworldy music of Django Conn. Later, through a chance meeting, Davi becomes friends with the girl, Anna Z. She is like no one Davi has ever met: she loves to talk, talk, talk and has grandiose theories of the next evolution of humans and a strange phenomenon she calls the “Alien Drift.” But danger lurks around every corner, because Anna Z is on the run, and her cruel and controlling older brother is determined to find her, at any cost. Davi faces a daunting decision, go on living a safe existence at the magical Angelus Hotel, which has been in the family for generations, or help Anna Z escape her troubled past. When the two take off to follow the concert tour of their glam-rock idol, Django Conn, Davi and Anna Z will face the biggest threat of their young lives.
Excerpt from Meet Me in the Strange
© 2019 Leander Watts
“My name’s Davi.”
She waited just a couple of seconds, then said, “I’m Anna Z.”
That was the shortest thing I ever heard her say. Soon enough, so many words were coming out of her that I felt like I was drowning. Wild stories, charming lies, true facts and fairy tales, rambling rants, song lyrics, rhymes and riddles and beautiful secrets. But for those couple of minutes, she still didn’t know if she could trust me. So she didn’t say much at first.
I asked about her favorite album. Of course, like me, it was Man in the Moon in the Man. We agreed that it was amazing and that we could listen to it a thousand times and never use it up. Only ten songs and there was a whole world hidden there in the grooves.
“Radiation Nation,” I said.
“Signs and Wonders,” she said back. “With the wild gamba solo, right?”
“Love and Gravity, Royal Shining Things,” I said the song names like I was using secret passwords. “Forty Months and a Day. The first time I heard that one, I thought my brain was going to catch on fire.”
She didn’t walk away saying I was a freak or an imbecilo turd-toy. I’d been through that enough times before, people telling me to go away, that I was too fanatical, too wound-up, too much. But right there in front of the theater, I went up to her and started talking about Django Conn, and that’s all it took to bring us together.
“I’ve got some bootleg LPs and some really rare 45s,” I told her, not bragging, but saying it just to see how she’d respond. “I saw a ticket stub from his first show with the Reptiles. A guy had it for sale. It was supposedly autographed, but how could you prove that Django really signed it?”
I kept thinking how amazing it was that she didn’t walk away. Once she’d gotten used to me, and that didn’t take long, she stood there like she was really listening. And I did too. Of course, that was probably easier for me because she was Anna Z, and there was nobody like her on the whole planet, maybe in the whole universe. Her hair wasn’t quite so wild as at the Maxima, but there were still black snakes tangled in it. No liquid blurs of color moved on her glasses. All the same, it was hard to see her eyes. Swept up into Django’s sound, she was lost and found. Standing on the street with me, she wasn’t so free, so spontaneous. But I remembered how she’d been, and I knew she’d be that way again.
I told her about the Angelus, that my family owned it and that I had always lived there. I mentioned Sabina and Carlos and the others. And that was all it took to make the final link between us, because she told me she’d been there just a few hours before. It really was her I’d heard through the wall, talking about blood, fire, moonlight, music, and mutation. It was no phantasm I’d seen walking down the hallway to the elevator.“
About Leander Watts
An avid musician, Leander Watts has played and sung for decades in a wide variety of bands. His interests range from garage rock to skronky jazz, from baroque organ to Appalachian gospel. The first rock concert he attended was David Bowie on the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974. He teaches writing and literature at the State University of New York at Geneseo (his alma mater). Leander Watts is the author of STONECUTTER, WILD RIDE TO HEAVEN, TEN THOUSAND CHARMS, and BEAUTIFUL CITY OF THE DEAD.
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Willow is not your typical celebrity, but she does seem to have some of their same troubles. Her morning talk show is losing ratings, which means she may be losing her job. Her last chance to keep it means becoming the host of the new dating show. A show she needs to figure out fast before it doesn’t take off at all.
Willow really impressed me with her taste in dogs. Her pick of the “litter” of golden retrievers was quite refreshing. And the bond she formed with Buddy from the moment they met was everything I wanted it to be.
Caleb, the bodyguard hired to protect Willow after she receives threatening letters, was another story. Ya, I loved that he loved Buddy, but his predisposition to assume all celebrities were snobs and brats really put me off. Especially when he continued to hold that position after meeting Willow and Buddy. Yes, eventually he realizes that not all celebrities are like that, but then he decides that Willow can even be his friend because he can’t focus on protecting her if she’s more than just a job.
The story really seemed to get caught up in Caleb’s head for a long time. It took too much of the focus off finding the bad guy, and too much into Caleb’s insecurities. The bad guy was super obvious to me right from the very first letter he sent. And his big appearance at the end of the story was a tad unbelievable.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**