Thursday, January 19, 2017

Author Of The Month - RJ Scott - Week Three



Welcome to our third week of celebrations for the amazing 





In today's post, we'll talk about the nine books in the Sanctuary series, plus a personal story RJ has chosen to share. Also, all the way at the bottom, there'll be another chance to win.


First up, Guarding Morgan


Blurb:

Morgan Drake is the only witness to a murder in an alleyway. Nik Valentinov works for Sanctuary, a foundation offering witness protection to anyone whose safety is compromised. Morgan discovers a bodyguard's arms can offer more than protection.

Morgan Drake witnesses a murder in an alleyway. He is the only person who can give evidence in prosecuting the cop responsible for the crime. When the FBI safe house where he's being held is compromised, he follows the instructions of the agent in charge and runs.

Nik Valentinov works for Sanctuary, a foundation that offers witness protection when FBI security is questionable.

When Morgan's handler sends him to Nik for safety, neither Morgan nor Nik could imagine that two weeks alone in a cabin in the woods would have their hearts racing with something much more than merely trying to keep Morgan alive.

Love.



Excerpt:


"Twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie, twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie…" The words were on repeat in Morgan Drake's head, a litany, over and over, in case he forgot. His FBI shadow had drummed the words into him until he could repeat them in his sleep.

"Just in case, Morgan, okay? If there's any problem, you take these keys and the car I showed you in the next door basement parking, and you take Highway Twenty West onto the 166, head for Altamont, Western Street, find a bookshop called Black Cat Books. Someone will locate you there, and he'll have a password, okay? Lemon Pie. He's a guy I trust with my life, and his name is Nik. I'm writing his cell number on this paper. You need to memorize it in case I can't contact him. Can you repeat… twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie. After me…"


He lost the rhythm of the words as a dark sedan overtook him and then peeled away at high speed. Dread gripped him again and he fought hard not to hyperventilate. Taylor had told him this car would be safe in every sense of the word. Fueled, in good condition, and with plates linking to an elementary teacher in Queens. The convoluted route to the garage where the car was housed meant he would probably have not been followed. Probably. He couldn't stop the car. "Don't stop driving Morgan. Don't you stop for anything or anyone once you get on the road. Not FBI, not cops, no one." Taylor always finished his sentences with the simple question: "Do you understand?" No, Morgan didn't understand.


From the minute he had made the decision to be the designated driver for an after work party, everything had gone to hell. An hour of complete terror, in which his world was ripped apart, ended with him in an FBI safe house guarded by a gruff agent who played a mean hand of poker. Obsessive and compulsive about Morgan's safety, Taylor Mitchell, FBI, ruled the house with an iron fist, not letting Morgan slip into the role of victim for an instant. They talked about what could go wrong. Taylor gave Morgan worst case scenarios that literally blew his mind—shooting, mayhem, and possible death. Morgan wasn't sure his protector was supposed to do that. But he liked the guy and if a choice presented itself between Taylor and the other agent who split the shifts? He would take the warnings every time. Especially given the other guy had bad breath and a corny line in come-ons.


God.


Taylor and Morgan had only been talking before bed. Morgan had been looking for the reassurances he remained safe, and Taylor had been only able to say he would do everything in his power to keep Morgan safe. Should anything happen, or go wrong, he knew of another man, another agency quite separate from the FBI, to help Morgan. A private agency called Sanctuary. Only brought in at the worst of times, it was there as an option if needed. A friend of his now worked for Sanctuary, an agency providing protection for people in need. Actually more than a friend. His ex-FBI partner. Morgan waved the information away, naively so it turned out later.


"How can anything go wrong? I'm with the FBI, the trial is in two weeks, and then everything will be normal again."


"Even the FBI can be compromised, Morgan. Don't you watch TV?" Taylor had a serious expression on his face. Now, with Taylor lying shot, and possibly dead, on the floor of the house, all Morgan could concentrate on was the list of directions he needed to remember, the promise of some mystical safety within his reach.


He waited for the sedan to make a U-turn and come at him with some bad guy hanging out of the window with a gun, but instead the indicators flashed and the car left the highway. Morgan's breathing stayed erratic and panicked sounding, despite how much he tried to settle it, fueled by the pain in his chest, his left arm, and his throbbing head. He didn't want to chance the radio. Music might help him find some composure, but shit, what if it meant he didn't remember the words in the right order? He'd probably end up in Canada or something, the bad guys chasing him down and taking him out of the equation in some blood and gore shootout.


Yes, Morgan watched the TV procedural cop shows with clever detectives or FBI suits who flouted the law and kept the little man on the street safe. He also saw the first witnesses in these shows were inevitably shot between the eyes, the last link in evidence on a high profile murder case. He'd also seen that sometimes the FBI agent was corrupt and a cop could end up on the wrong side of the law. He liked those shows. He simply didn't want to be in one of those shows.


"Twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie, twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie."


He struggled to keep from losing his shit and forced himself to unbend each finger of one hand away from the steering wheel. After he opened his window, the rush of cold early morning air cleared his eyes, and he breathed deeply, trying to gain control of his nerves. He checked the mirror. There was no one behind him; the road remained deserted, and he had a purpose.


Twenty, one sixty-six, Altamont, western, black cat, lemon pie…




Get the book:

      




Also available, Books 2 through 6:


  

  




Book 7, Worlds Collide


Blurb:

It is the day after New Years and Dale is en route back to Albany in a private jet with Emily Bullen. She is coming back home after turning states evidence on her husband Senator Thomas Bullen.

What no one factored in, not Sanctuary or the FBI, was the lengths Griffin Ryland would go to in the effort to protect himself.

Joseph finds out Dale is in trouble and it is only with the help of his team of SEALs that he can make sure Dale is safe and that Griffin Ryland can't cause any more trouble.

A snowy New Years, a deserted airport and a hostage situation with people already dead and suddenly the worlds of Sanctuary and the SEALs collide, with terrifying consequences.

Then, two weeks alone at a resort, falling deeper in love leave the two men with decisions to make and suddenly there is the chance to make forever a possibility.


Excerpt:

Stephanie came back into the cabin and slid into her seat. She looked pale. Sick.
“You need to go and look,” she said carefully.


Edward frowned. “Why? What did they do? Jeez, how bad can it be?” She didn’t answer but there was something in her expression that had Dale following Edward to the uncovered wires over the right wing. Edward crouched down and peered into the hole. 
“Fuck,” he cursed. Settling himself on his stomach, he shuffled forward to put his entire head down the hole. There was muttered cursing and then he slid back and up into a crouch. Gone was the laconic pilot and in his place was the ex-fighter pilot that had flown tours in Desert Storm. His expression was utterly focused and carved from stone.


“We need to call this in,” he said.


“What is it?” Dale asked immediately. Edward gestured for him to lie down as he had. 


“Look at the rear of the panel with the K and 6 on it. Follow the wire back to the rear. You see the blinking?”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ARC Review: Watching and Wanting (Housemates 4) by Jay Northcote



Blurb:
Shawn is adrift. Recently graduated, he’s stuck in a dead-end job that barely pays the bills. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends have moved on, and he’s still in Plymouth—going nowhere.

Jude is a student living in the same shared house. Out and proud, he’s everything Shawn’s been running from since he hit puberty. When Shawn discovers Jude works as a cam boy, he can’t resist the urge to watch one of his shows. It makes Shawn want things that scare him, yet his fascination forces him to confront his attraction.

Keen to explore his bicurious side, Shawn suggests they do a show together. Jude agrees, and things get complicated—and kinky—fast. But Jude isn’t looking to get involved with someone so deep in the closet. If Shawn’s going to get what he wants, he needs to find the courage to stop hiding from himself and be honest about who he is.


Dani's rating:




This is yet another scorching addition to Jay Northcote's Housemates series. You may remember Shawn from the third book; he's the straight "bro dude" who lives with Jez, Mac, and Dev. Shawn's life is stagnant, and he's been recently dumped by his long-term girlfriend.

When Shawn walks in on Jude, his hot flatmate, naked in front of a camera, he flees. No straight man wants to see that.

But a bisexual man, long repressed, does. (Thank god we don't get any GFY fuckery here; Shawn is BI, just in mega denial about it.)

Jude becomes the teacher, Shawn the willing pupil—first ON camera, and then OFF. Shawn realizes that men do it for him, that JUDE does it for him. But he's terrified of coming out, of being with Jude, REALLY being with him.

Jude doesn't want to march back into the closet, and I can't say I blame him. I do think he pushed Shawn a bit too much, and maybe Shawn had that ding-ding-ding moment a little too quickly, but jealousy can be a powerful motivator.

This book CAN be read as a standalone, but I really liked visiting with the other couples (except for Josh and Rupert) again. Jez and Mac are as fun and flirty as ever, and Dev has really come into his own with Ewan as his boyfriend.

Recap:

Blogtour: Cemeteries By Moonlight by Hunter Frost




Please wish a Happy Release Day to Hunter Frost with 

Cemeteries By Moonlight 



A big thank you to My Fiction Nook for hosting me today! I’m absolutely thrilled to talk about my new release – Cemeteries by Moonlight – dropping today, on January 18th. This book is part of the States of Love series from Dreamspinner Press. I was lucky enough to claim Louisiana as my state, crafting my story around a cast of eccentric characters and the romance between a crime fiction writer and a cemetery tour guide. I’ve dubbed it a noir-tastic mystery with hints of paranormal hijinks, and I hope you enjoy it!


With Cemeteries by Moonlight taking place in New Orleans, it was inevitable that I’d throw in some of the fabulous cuisine Louisiana has to offer. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans roughly six times so far, and I’ve never had a bad meal while there. The cultural diversity lends itself to food that is somehow exotic and exciting, at yet at the same time comforting and warm. I made sure my book included some of the foods I fell in love with, from bread pudding to po’ boys and I thought it would be fun to include a few of the recipes of foods I mention in the book. I’ll try not to salivate as I’m writing this!


Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce from Commander’s Palace


For the Bread Pudding:


1 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Freshly grated Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
6 Cups French Bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (be sure it’s a light bread, meaning not too dense)
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened


For Whiskey Sauce:


1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 tsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Water
a few drop of Vanilla extract
1/3 Cup Bourbon
1/3 Cup Sugar


Mix together the water and cornstarch. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. While boiling slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry, when the sauce is thickened remove from the heat and add the vanilla, bourbon and sugar. Set aside to cool to room temperature.


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Butter a square cake pan with the butter. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. In a large Mixing bowl whisk the eggs, add the sugar mixture, then whisk in the cream and vanilla extract. Fold in the bread cubes being sure to not break them up too much. The trick to this recipe is to make sure all of the bread soaks up the custard, and that you don’t overcook it. Place the prepared mixture into the cake pan, cover with foil and place the cake pan into a larger pan, sufficient enough to allow for a water bath which will cover the smaller pan by half way.
Place the pans into the oven and bake for 2 hours. Remove the foil and raise the temperature to 300 degrees for 1 hour more or until the top of the pudding is golden brown. The finished pudding should be slightly firm, while moist, but not runny.


Serve warm with whiskey sauce. Makes 4 servings.


Authentic New Orleans Gumbo from gumbocooking.com


1 pound medium shrimp peeled
1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut bite size
1 pound andouille or lean smoked sausage sliced bite size
1/2 cup vegetable oil (corn or canola is best)
3/4 cup flour
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh red pepper (less if you don't like any heat)
6 cups chicken stock
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 cups sliced okra (if frozen thaw before use)
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Tabasco


In a large heavy pot coated with 1 tablespoon oil, saute' chicken and sausage on medium high heat until brown on all sides. Some of the meat will stick to the bottom of the pot then release. The crust that forms is called "gratin". This is one of the secrets of Cajun cooking that adds a rich flavor and is an important step in making an authentic New Orleans gumbo recipe. Remove and set aside.


Cut up onions, celery, and green pepper and set aside covered.


Place oil and flour in pot, stir well and brown to make a roux. When flour is browned to the color of milk chocolate or an old copper penny, add chopped vegetables and saute on low heat for 8-10 minutes. Gradually add chicken stock stirring constantly until blended. Add chicken and sausage and all other ingredients except the shrimp, okra and parsley which will be saved for the end.


Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook 30 more minutes stirring occasionally. Add shrimp, okra and parsley and continue to cook on low heat uncovered for 15 minutes.


Serve in a bowl with rice. A serving of 1/3 cup rice to 1 1/4 cup gumbo is the way it's done in New Orleans. Recipe will serve 8.


Cajun Red Beans & Rice from Grandbaby-cakes.com


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped chopped bell peppers
3 chicken andouille sausage links, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups chicken stock
5 cups water
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
1 pound bag of dried red beans (already soaked overnight and drained)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rice to serve with beans


In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions, celery and bell peppers and cook until they begin to caramelize and tenderize. Next add in sausage and brown. Add in minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes making sure not to burn. Turn heat up to medium high and add chicken stock, water, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and creole seasoning then stir in red beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring liquid to a boil then turn heat down to low, cover with lid and cook for 2 - 2½ hours until beans are tender and liquid as thickened. Check flavor of beans and season with salt and pepper to taste, stir and turn off heat. Let cool for 15 minutes and allow beans to continue thickening. Serve with rice.


And how about a local cocktail?


Sazerac from gastronomista.com


2 oz Rye Whiskey
3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 demerara sugar cube 


Muddle the sugar and bitters, then add whiskey and ice.
Stir and Strain into a chilled, Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe-rinsed rocks glass.
Twist a lemon peel over the surface and discard.
(credited to William Boothby, World Drinks and How to Mix them 1908) 

Do you have a favorite food or cocktail from New Orleans, or anywhere in Louisiana? I’d love to hear about it.




About the book:


Blurb:

When a serious bout of writer’s block threatens to delay mystery author Drew Daniels’s newest book, his aunt offers her New Orleans apartment in the heart of the French Quarter as a writing retreat. She neglects to mention that it’s occupied by the enigmatic and sexy Finn Murphy, a cemetery tour guide with a penchant for Victorian attire and a Cajun accent.

A body discovered in an open crypt forces reclusive Drew to deal with Finn’s eccentric group of friends and his underlying attraction to the hot Cajun—despite warnings about Finn’s violent past. Drew might write this stuff, but he’s never had to solve a real-life murder. With a deadline looming and a killer on the loose, this retreat is proving to be anything but helpful for Drew’s novel. Drew can only hope he won’t end up a tragic tale for the Ghostly Legends & Lore, Inc. haunted tour.


States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.


Get the book:


  




Meet the author:

Release Blitz: The New Wolf by RJ Scott

Release Blitz:

The New Wolf (Building The Pack #1) 

by RJ Scott


Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 25,500 words

Cover: Meredith Russell 




Blurb

A dangerous lone wolf is intent on destroying the beginnings of a pack, and when Connor is attacked and near death, there is only one thing that can save him. A wolf shifter’s bite.

After a hate crime leaves one of them near dead, Veterinarian Josh Nolan and Cop Connor Vincent are starting a new life in Black Creek, a remote town on the edge of the Green Mountains range, Vermont. Josh is taking over his grandfather's practice, and Connor starts a new position with the local sheriff's office. 

When Connor becomes curious about unsolved crimes going back fifty years he cant know the kind of secrets he begins to unearth. Or the danger that he puts himself and Josh in.





Excerpt

The smell of coffee woke him and he reached across the bed to check for Josh. When he felt empty sheets, he assumed Josh was the one making coffee. His feet hitting the floor sent a sensation of pain up his legs and he cursed under his breath. He had issued a check with Josh that his body couldn’t cash. Either that or he was getting old. Padding into the kitchen, he blearily rubbed his eyes. It seemed they’d slept through the day and it was after nine in the evening. Josh was wearing sweats that hung from his hipbones and in the soft light from the hall, the dark kitchen was casting weird shadows around his lover. Connor had never seen anything so beautiful as Josh leaning against the counter, waiting for the coffee machine to do its thing.

He yawned widely behind a hand and crossed to Josh, cuddling him from behind. Josh tensed in his arms momentarily in surprise. Evidently, he hadn’t expected Connor out of bed yet. Then he relaxed back into Connor’s hold and finally turned in his arms and pulled Connor closer for a hug.

“How you doing?” he asked gently.

“Aching a bit,” Connor answered truthfully. After five years together, Josh could see through Connor like his mom used to be able to do. According to Josh, he could tell when Connor was lying, joking, or any other ing Connor attempted to pull on him.

“You should probably take some more pain meds.” Josh punctuated that with a kiss and, for a second, they stood close and kissed gentle close-mouthed kisses and simply held each other.

“It’s weird,” Connor started. “My thigh is fine, my chest, fine, but I feel like every muscle in me aches, and my joints, my knees, even my damn elbows. Like I’ve pushed too many weights, or run three marathons back to back.”

Josh tugged back a little and, even without being able to see into Josh’s eyes, Connor knew his other half was probably going to mention the unnecessary sex in the hallway. He wasn’t wrong.

“We shouldn’t have done that this morning,” Josh admonished. “You’re not well enough.”

“I was fine. You weren’t complaining.”

Josh huffed a laugh, then turned back to the coffee. Carrying two mugs into the front room, they sat next to each other on the old wide sofa that had come as part of the house.

“I’ll be complaining tomorrow,” Josh deadpanned. “I’m not saying it wasn’t hot, but jeez, look at this.” He wriggled a little and pushed down his sweats to expose his left hipbone and five perfect crescent dents that were red and sore.

“Shit, babe,” Connor snapped immediately. He placed the coffee down, then touched the marks on Josh’s beautiful unblemished skin. “Did I do that?” He leaned down and pressed a kiss to the marks, then sat back up, not knowing what to say. Should he say sorry? Is that what Josh wanted. Why was it so difficult to read Josh’s expression? Normally he could read Josh as easily as he, himself could be read.

“You just don’t know your own strength,” Josh said without accusation. Then he straddled Connor’s lap and buried his face in Connor’s neck. “I fucking loved it,” Josh mumbled.

Connor held him tight and relished the feel of Josh’s skin against his own. “I love you,” he said gently.

“I love you, too,” Josh murmured. “Don’t ever get attacked in the forest again. Okay?”

Connor moved so that more of Josh’s weight rested on him. The feeling of him was exquisite. Then he cuddled hard and made a mental promise never to go into the trees again.




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