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“…we only see what we want to see…what we expect to see…”
Discover what’s hidden—a powerful, mythic race, an ancient Egyptian prophecy, and a love strong enough to shatter the boundaries of time.
Alexandra Larson isn’t human…but she doesn’t know that. As far as Lex is concerned, she’s simply an ambitious and independent archaeology grad student with a knack for deciphering ancient languages, especially the various forms of Egyptian. When she’s recruited to work on her dream excavation, her translating skills uncover the secret entrance to an underground Egyptian temple concealed within Djeser-Djeseru—the famous mortuary temple of Queen Hatchepsut. Lex is beyond thrilled by her discovery…as is the enigmatic and alluring excavation director, Marcus Bahur.
As the relationship between Lex and Marcus heats up, a series of shocking revelations leave the young archaeologist reeling. Once Lex discovers the truth of her ancient Egyptian roots—the truth of her more-than-human nature—the people she trusts most make one final, terrifying revelation: Lex is the central figure of a four-thousand-year-old prophecy. She is the only thing standing between the power to alter the very fabric of time and an evil megalomaniac…who also happens to be her father. As events set in motion over four millennia ago lead Lex and Marcus from Seattle to the heart of Egypt, the fate of mankind depends on one thing: the strength of Lex’s love.
As a silent, shameful tear slid down my cheek, I asked, “Why didn’t you just tell me the truth on the plane? I imagined such awful things about you.”
He chuckled, but the sound held no amusement. “You thought the worst, and yet you were still willing to claim me as yours. You are unbelievable.”
I shifted my feet and frowned. “Claim you as mine?” I remembered thinking something similar, but I had no clue where the urge had come from. Who claims another person?
Shaking his head, Marcus said, “And you don’t even know what you did. I forget sometimes that you weren’t raised among us, that you don’t know our ways. But, it would seem that your instincts have a way of making up for your missing knowledge.” He hitched his head toward the direction of my confrontation with Sara. “What you just did—that was one of several types of claiming ceremonies. In the old ways, you just declared me yours.”
“I did? But I didn’t mean to.”
“Too late. It’s done.” He took a small step toward me, then another. “Do you know what comes next?”
Swallowing, I shook my head.
“Once the Nejeret, or Nejerette in this case, claims her intended, it’s up to the claimed to complete the ceremony by either rejecting or accepting the Nejerette,” he explained.
Looking at his boots, I asked, “How would the claimed reject the Nejerette?”
“By publicly vowing never to speak to her, touch her, or look upon her again. It’s the reason claiming is not very common.”
My eyes flew up to his, searching his face for any hint of his intentions. Will he reject me? After what I’d thought of him, I feared it was a distinct possibility.
“And how would the claimed accept the Nejerette?” I asked softly.
A slow, wolfish smile spread across Marcus’s face, and his golden eyes darkened with desire.
“Oh,” I breathed. My belly tightened, and my groin throbbed in rhythm with my suddenly speeding heartbeat.
“Would the Nejerette like her claimed to accept?” Marcus took another small step, leaving only a few feet between us.
Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book–as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she’s not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats.
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AL CAPONE AT THE BLANCHE HOTEL
by Linda Bennett Pennell
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Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but linked and irrevocably altered by a series of murders in 1930.
Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan’s self-righteous vigilantism. Jack’s older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancé, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.
Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.
“Jack Blevins, where have you been? It’s after midnight.” Meg grabbed her little brother’s arm and pulled him through her bedroom window. “If Daddy finds out, he’ll skin you alive.”
“Well, he ain’t gonna lests you tell him.” Jack hit the floor with a thump. “Man, I’m glad to be home.”
Meg’s eyebrows rose. “That’s sure new. Mama says you stay gone as much as you can get away with these days.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Jack kicked at the edge of the rag rug beside his sister’s bed. “If I’d known you was coming home, I’d of stayed around.”
“Nice to know you haven’t gone completely wild.”
Jack grinned at Meg and winked. “Not yet, but you never know. It could happen any day now. At least that’s what Mama says.” As he picked a thorn out of his elbow, he became quietly thoughtful. His words turned halting when he spoke again. “Meg, you ain’t gonna believe what me and Zeke seen at the sinkhole.”
Guest Post by Linda Bennett Pennell:
How did you conceive of combining the past with Al Capone in a contemporary adventure?
I wish I could say that this idea is completely original and unique to me, but sadly (sighing loudly here), my novel is at the end of a long list of books and movies with this general format. My first encounter with said format was the movie version of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, starring a very young Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. And oh my, they were wonderful in both centuries in which they lived! Over the years, I have read books with the same general format and have loved them. It became a style that I wanted to try and Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel is the result.
Before the novel’s premise was even formed, I knew there were some themes I wanted to explore. I have watched in fascination and distress as young women friends, who excel in their professional lives, seem completely unrealistic, even out of control, in their romantic expectations and obsessions. They are rock stars professionally, but their personal lives are messes, just like my novel’s contemporary heroine, Dr. Liz Reams. Liz is every inch the modern, successful woman who can wow her university colleagues while allowing a jerk of a boyfriend to walk all over her. One might think that she is an innocent victim, but oh no, that is not the case. She seeks out and attaches herself to the wrong man time after time because she is in thrall to the romantic notion of the glamorous bad boy. Why, oh why, girls, do you do this? I can’t change my friends, so I suppose Liz is my way of righting their incredibly wrong thinking. Also, years ago I had aspirations of being a college history professor, so making Liz one allowed me to live vicariously through her! But isn’t that what we authors do all the time?
Regarding the chapters set in 1930, history was my first academic love and writing historical fiction is my current love. I enjoy the research. I am thrilled when I get that feeling of bringing the past to life. I also love my Southern home. I am not proud of or happy about some of the things that happened there, but I will always love her. Growing up in a deeply segregated South, I had to come to grips with a dichotomy that I observed every day. It was a puzzle to me how everyone I knew espoused loving their neighbors as themselves on Sunday, and then either passively or purposefully, failed to love so many of our neighbors so much of the time. It wasn’t right and I knew this from a very early age. I suppose I exorcised a few personal demons in writing Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. Hmm, still sounding like an author, aren’t I?
It may of interest that my historical heroine, Meg Blevins, is a tribute to the most important women in my life. My mother, my mother-in-law, and my aunts were all young women during the Great Depression. It left a deep mark on them and consequently on my cousins, my husband, and myself. Meg’s desperate fear of poverty and loss of independence was a recurring theme with my female relatives. It was a trait that my mother-in-law never lost, not even at the age of 101. Meg is a woman ahead of her time. Had she been of her grandmothers’ generation, she would have been a suffragette. If she had been born after World War II, she would have been a women’s libber. Being a young woman of the Depression, she is so worried about being poor that she puts the love of her life in jeopardy. Stealing ideas from real life, here!
Finally, the friendship between the two young boys, Jack and Zeke, is very loosely based on a relationship between my grandfather and a neighbor boy. One was white; the other was black. They lived in a racially divided South during a period of tremendous hatred and cruelty directed toward blacks, yet their friendship lasted a lifetime. Now that is something I am proud of.
This brings us full circle to the point of life in general and romance novels specifically. In my opinion, love not only makes the world go round, it also makes all the difference – always has, always will.
What about you? What makes your world go round? How do you deal with your own history?
I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, “Let’s pretend.”
I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband, one German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl, and one striped yellow cat who knows she’s queen of the house.
Favorite quote regarding my professional passion: “History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire
by Margo Bond Collins
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When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she’s witnessed another murder, and she’s not about to let this one go. She’s determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?
I’m no cop. Never was. When I was alive, I was a technical writer. I designed documents for one of the big phone companies–the sorts of instruction manuals that come with a CD and titles like Easy Installation Instructions for Your New DSL.
But I watched plenty of cop shows. Especially after I died. Not much else to do.
So when Molly McClatchey’s murderer started cleaning up, I waited for my chance. And eventually, he started to put the knife down into the tub next to Molly–apparently, he was planning to leave it behind. I wrapped my hands around his and twisted as hard as I could with both my hands and my mind, squinching closed my non-corporeal eyes and willing the knife to turn.
It slipped out of his hand and sliced cleanly through the glove he wore on his right hand and into the skin.
“Dammit.” It was the first thing I’d heard him say. His voice was deep, almost gravelly. He grabbed a hand towel from the bar above the sink and held it to the wound.
So I tugged at the towel, pulling it toward the floor. It came loose from the wound for an instant before the man wrapped it more firmly around his hand.
But it was enough. A single, tiny drop of blood–his blood–had slipped out and landed on the side of the vanity.
He gathered up all the plastic bags, shoving them into yet another one. At the door, he traded his shoe-covering booties for another pair. Then he switched the surgical gloves out for the leather ones and went into the McClatchey’s bedroom. He knew exactly what he was looking for, too–he went straight to Rick’s dresser, opened a small wooden chest on top of it, and pulled out a tiny key. He gently closed the chest and dropped the key into his pocket.
He stopped at the door of the bathroom and stood back to survey the room. I stood in front of the vanity, willing his eyes to skip over that single drop of blood.
He tilted his head, his eyes narrowing as he stared at the vanity, stared at that blood drop. And then he shook his head and left.
It had worked. Hallelujah. Against all odds, I had kept him from seeing the evidence he’d left behind.
Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.
Connect with Margo:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin @MargoBondCollin
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Margo-Collins/e/B00EOU9DEG
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins
Facebook Novel Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Waking-Up-Dead/502076076537575
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Victoria will be awarding one copy of “A Wild Night’s Bride” or “A Breach of Promise” to randomly drawn commenters at each stop. Follow the tour with this link to better your chances of winning.
A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground…
A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own…
When pride and passion vie for supremacy…
Blistering desert days are nothing compared to the sizzling Sahara nights…
My eyes tracked upward to rest on his sun-bronzed and lightly bearded face. Harsh and angular in the lamplight, it was at once the handsomest and cruelest face I had ever seen. He regarded me fiercely with scornful eyes. Those eyes! I had seen them before.
I gasped. It was him! The man from the party who had eyed me with such insolence. Even now he gazed at me as no other man had ever dared to—in a way that made me feel like a slave exposed for sale in a public market.
“Who are you?” I asked hoarsely, speaking in French without thinking.
He replied in French as well. “I am the Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan.”
The name conveyed nothing. “Is it money that you want? Are you holding me for ransom?”
He regarded me for a long and silent moment with an expression of contempt. “I have no need of your money.”
“What then?” I demanded, but deep down I already knew it was not a question of ransom. The way he looked at me was far too revealing and made my stomach churn. “Do you think that you can keep me here, you fool?” I lashed out in growing panic. “Do you suppose I can vanish into the desert and that no notice will be taken of my disappearance? That no inquiries will be made?”
“There will be no inquiries,” he answered me calmly.
“There will be inquiries.” I choked out. “I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. The English authorities will make the French Government find out who is responsible, and you will pay for what you have done.”
“Pay?” His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. “I have already paid… in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides,” he continued, “the French Government has no jurisdiction over me. There is no authority above my own.”
My trepidation was growing more terrible every passing moment. “Why have you brought me here?”
“Why have I brought you here?” He repeated with a slow and heated appraisal that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex. “Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?”
Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist, cowboy addict, and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for Victoria’s sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks summer 2014.
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Book Trailer for THE SHEIK RETOLD