Thursday, April 20, 2017

RELEASE DAY + BOOK REVIEW: "Wanions of the Wicked" by Romarin Demetri



A treaty of protection. An end-all prophecy. A forbidden love. A family curse.
A wanion is an oath, a wish, a promise, or a vendetta, and in the third installment of the Supernatural London Underground, London’s favorite group of supernatural misfits are forced to come to terms with theirs. 
The chance to free London from supernatural suppression was never a choice for Romarin Demetri, or for her friends and housemates, who shared a horror she has only heard about in a few unguarded moments. When an elite group of assassins is contracted to thwart their plans of liberating people from another experimental laboratory, their ultimate goal is forcibly stalled— allowing time for pleasant distractions, other worldly experiences, and situations that can’t help but make them feel human. Now that her friends finally have to face their horrible pasts, Romarin finds herself willingly walking into an insidious trap that plays out her own worst fears.


I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Romarin Demetri by now, having been able to review her series as it was released for the past three books. In the third Supernatural London Underground book, the action takes a dark twist, especially as we see a showdown between Katrina and Kat (my favorite character is Katrina, by the by), and a lot more about Talia is discovered. Row is still the main character, of course, but this book is about much more than her.
I can't gush enough on how great this was to read, to be sucked even deeper into this crazy world in London with such a disparate cast of characters. This book was one I couldn't put down, and can't describe much more for then I would risk giving one of the feared spoilers. If you like your paranormal with a twist, you'll fall madly in love with this book.

5/5--It should have six stars.

Purchase Wanions of the Wicked via

BOOK REVIEW: "Otherworld" by Stella Coulson


When Lenore’s world falls down, the fallout results in her travel to another dimension called the ‘Otherworld’. Within it, she encounters feral beasts, monsters and beautiful creatures with sadistic tastes. Once a victim - but never no more.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Note: you might want to read Whitby After Dark, the first book in this series, before you make the journey through Lenore's story in this book.
You get right into the story from page one, the moment you open your Kindle. It was easy and nearly seamless for me to slip right back into Lenore's world, despite it being nearly two years since I read the first book. Coulson created a world with characters who really stick with you once you've closed the book. The plot really evolved since Whitby was released, showing how the author has grown between books. All the characters are still very unique and three-dimensional, making you feel as though you are living their stories with them.
There's a lot of adventure and action, still with more allusions to abuse as there were in the first book, allegory that equates abuse with fictional monsters, making it more palatable. The mix of emotion and action and a dash of mystery make this a kick a** read, however there were some editing issues I feel I should point out. There were missing words, and sometimes I found that the capitalization of certain words to be distracting. It didn't take away too much from the book, but it was hard to stop reading to mentally edit and fix sentences as I read.
Overall, it's a great book with a deep, meaningful message beneath all that paranormal goodness. Definitely a book you should pick up ASAP.

4/5--exciting and intricate.

Purchase Otherworld via:


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

RELEASE BLITZ: "Beer Goggles" Anthology




Title: Beer Goggles Anthology
Authors: Various
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC
Genre: New Adult/Romantic Comedy
Release Date: April 18, 2017



Blurb

Have you ever had too much to drink?
Everyone knows hooking up with someone while under the influence is a bad idea. But…sh*t happens.
What did I do?
Who did I do?
Where are my keys…and my underwear?
Welcome to nights of not-so-innocent drinking gone awry. Find out where it all went wrong…so terribly wrong…
From sexy neighbors to embarrassing advances—and that person who you know for a fact wouldn’t be there in the first place had it not been for the alcohol. Remember or forget? It doesn’t matter—because either way, those nights can still follow you forever.
Truth be told, when the night is over and the beer goggles are off, some things can never be unseen.
 

BEER GOGGLES 

14 AUTHORS with 14 WTF moments after a night of drinking....

ALL PROCEEDS will be donated to ST. JUDE

The List by Alyson Santos
Not With You by D. Nichole King
Toasted by Shantel Tessier
Oh Tequila by C.A. Harms
Ten Too Many by A.M. Hargrove
Beauty and the Brown Noser by Evan Grace
Shenanigans by Chelsea Camaron
Test Me by Molly McLain
Oh Shit by Lacey Black
Strike Out by Jennifer Miller
Sex, Alcohol and My Neighbor by Terri E. Laine
Tattooed Redemption Alicia Rae
The Guy in 3C by Cheryl McIntyre
Vikings by Sunniva Dee








Purchase Links

Only 99c!!!

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU



Limitless Publishing




Author Links




RELEASE BLITZ: "Here Without You" by Jennifer L. Allen

Presents

Release Blitz: Here Without You 
by Jennifer L. Allen

Release Date: April 18, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Military Romance

Add to your TBR

Available Now!

Amazon
US UK CA AU



 Anna Romano had the picture perfect life. As a brilliant high school student and talented artist with a supportive family, she couldn't imagine her life being any better. Her days are spent fantasizing about finishing high school, and dreaming of a future with her loving boyfriend.

Ryan Jacobs had his life figured out. He was enlisting in the Navy, and his high school sweetheart was applying to art school. Just a few more months and the life they'd planned together would become a reality.

On a cold February day, tragedy struck and flipped Anna's life upside down. The bright and colorful world she once lived in turned to gray. Retreating into herself, she pushed Ryan away. She pushed everyone away. Then she ran.

Ryan was lost without Anna, but truthfully, she had been gone long before she even left. He did the only thing he could do, he went on with his life. Years later, the last thing he expected was to bump into her more than two thousand miles from home.

Love, pain, distance, and secrets.

Would their challenges tear them apart?

Or was their love strong enough to mend them forever?

*Here Without You is a standalone romance with a trigger warning. A mass shooting takes place in the prologue and is referenced periodically throughout the book.

 
 

Excerpt

Ryan: Whatcha reading?
Anna: Can it, Jacobs.
Ryan: No can do.
Anna: I'm not telling you anything.
Ryan: I knew it!
Anna: Knew what?
Ryan: You are reading the sexy books.
Ryan: I bet you did read the one with the whips.
Ryan: Anna?
Ryan: Hello?
Anna: Goodbye, Ryan.
Ryan: I'm like a dog with a bone, Anna. I'm not giving up.
Anna: You're going to be greatly disappointed.
Ryan: Doubt that.
Anna: What makes you so confident?
Ryan: Because I know I'm right.
Anna: Hate to tell you this, but you're wrong. I haven't read that book.
Anna: Yet ...
Ryan: *groans*
Anna: lol



About the Author

Jennifer was born and raised on Long Island, in New York. She relocated to South Carolina in 2002, where she met the love of her life. They got married and live their happily ever after just outside of Charleston with their fur-kids; a spoiled rat terrier, a cat who thinks he's a dog, and a cat who think she's an MMA fighter. When she's not reading or writing, she works a day job in an office, and is an evening graduate student, pursuing a degree in clinical counseling. She enjoys amateur photography, traveling, and music ... it's a bonus when she can combine all three. She independently published her debut novel, Our Moon (JACT 1), in June 2015.

Follow the Author




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Friday, April 14, 2017

BOOK BLITZ: "The Tryst" by TL Travis

The Sebastian Chronicles is a series of 5 Erotic Paranormal Novelettes that will take you through each century since Sebastian Benoit’s Vampiric inception.

BLOG TOUR: "Serpent's Kiss" by Layla Dorine


While searching for their missing sibling, Zaiden and his sister, Kaandhal come across the last pure blooded psy-clairvoyant of their kind. Unfortunately for them, Darian has no idea what he truly is and isn’t much interested in learning, or in helping them locate their brother, Zxex.
A bounty hunter by trade, who’s been all but banished from his family due to his visions, Darian’s a bit cynical about his ability to be of any assistance to them. Never-the-less, Zaiden brings him back to their home Rhumba, where Darian discovers that very little is what it seems.
With plots unfolding all around them and discoveries about his own heritage leaving Darian reeling, he is left with the choice of whether to embrace who and what he is, or spend every moment with them a prisoner on the fringes of their society.
Add in a pesky little bond that only seems to grow the more time he and Zaiden spend together, and several factions looking to gain possession of him and Darian is left wondering if his visions just might be the least of his troubles.

Book Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb_tJbdXqb8&feature=youtu.be

Buy Links
US Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y2RM5J3/
UK Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06Y2RM5J3/
DE Amazon: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B06Y2RM5J3/
JP Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B06Y2RM5J3/
CA Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06Y2RM5J3/




Excerpt
He caught sight of his mismatched eyes in the mirror as he headed to the living room, desperate to put the day behind him. As always, seeing those eyes reminded him of how defective he really was, and not just on the outside, but the inside too. His green eye was blind, save for those moments when it decided to peer into the soul of another and bring their future or past roaring like a waterfall of images through his mind.
The twisted part of him, the cold, sick, sadistic nature that set him apart as much as his stare, loved when those images spelled out pain, misfortune, and death, death was a high that left him without the
need for drugs or the bottle gods. What kind of monster fed off the hurt of others the way vampires fed off blood, hell, he was worse than any bloodsucker, at least they spared their victims pain when they could, left them with pleasant, sometimes even erotic memories and licked the wound closed to hide where it had been. Him, he just busted lives open wide, sucking in all that delicious fear, doubt, paranoia, oh god but he loved when he got the paranoid ones, he’d fuck with them for days before allowing the visions to play out the way they were supposed to. Drop them a little hint here, a little clue there, let them know disaster was breathing down their necks and watch as they scrambled to do everything in their power to avoid it. Only there was never anything that they could do.
He was caught between self-loathing and longing for just the right kind of paranoid son of a bitch that might help him forget this day when his eyes landed on his couch. Sitting where he’d planned to drop his ass and rest was a woman with blood diamond scales running down her arms and the brightest ruby eyes he’d ever seen. Crimson lips parted to reveal a pair of brilliant white fangs and her hair was the color of sunsets, all red and orange hues spilling down her back. A pattern of scales ran up her forehead like a widow’s peak, and covered her cheekbones. Her ears were mere slits set against the silver and red prismatic colors and when she turned, he was sure he heard rattling and looked down to see a snake’s tail coiled on his plush leather cushions.
“What. The. Fuck,” he stammered, wishing he hadn’t taken off his gun.
She hissed, like lips peeled back, forked tongue darting out and flickering in his direction kind of hiss and he shrank back, ‘cause however messed up he was, she was way on the other side of normal.
“Your crass words are offensive to my ears,” she seethed, coils uncoiling and snaking toward him.
He took another step back, ‘til the backs of his legs hit the front of a chair and he dropped his ass in the lumpy thing.
“Apologize,” she ordered.
He opened his mouth to tell her to go to hell, but all that came out was a choked wheeze as something squeezed his throat so hard he was seeing red spots and haze.
“You were told to apologize,” a deeper, harsher voice ordered, and Darrell forced himself to focus, to grasp the coils around his neck and pull at the thick weight of them enough to catch a gasp of air.
“Fuck. You!” he gasped, then wished like hell he hadn’t said that because the crushing weight constricted more and no amount of clawing at it could buy him a single gulp of air. The haze grew, his vision beginning to go dark when at last the coils let up and he slumped backwards without them to hold him up. At least the chair caught him; he gave thanks for it while he sucked in as much air as he could, despite the soreness of his throat and the throbbing pain in his head.
“I would not suggest taking that tone with me again, or using that kind of language,” the female…thing said, and Darrell tried to focus on her again, while keeping his eye on the big piebald colored snakeman coiled inches to his left.
“I have a name, and it is not ‘thing’,” she informed him sternly.
“You…you’re reading my mind,” he choked out.
“Not that it is very difficult, but yes,” she informed him.

Serpent’s Kiss Excerpt 2
It took him back to another time, to home, when he was still too young to fully understand just how differently he was being treated. In those days, when the flashes of the future he glimpsed showed moments of sadness, he did everything he could to cheer the other person up. When he caught glimpses of troubled times, he attempted to give warnings, going so far as to throw himself between his older brother and a heavy piece of iron seconds before it fell. His leg had been broken for his efforts, but it was better than the vision he’d received of his brother with a huge, bloody gash in his skull, twitching in the hallway.
Blinking back the memory, he drew away from her touch and its warmth. “It only seemed to scare them more,” he admitted.
“But that was no fault of yours,” Kaandhal insisted. “The fault lay with them. Everything you attempted to do was out of love for them, and they repaid that love with scorn and fear, pushing you aside for it. You did not deserve that. Now we are giving you a second chance, but this time, it is up to you to take it. You can hold on to the pain that you carry, you can continue to lash out at the world over the actions of a handful, or you can stand up and be a man and do what you were born to do.”
He was silent for a moment, studying her.
“And if I choose not to use my gifts?” he asked. “If I choose to keep burying them, then what? Your brother seems convinced that someone is going to come hunting me. I’ve got nowhere to go. Will you throw me out of here if I don’t do what you want?”
Tight lipped she shook her head, regarding him sadly. “No. This is your home for as long as you choose to live in it.”
The shock must have registered on his face because her expression changed. “I am so sorry that you’ve grown up to be so skeptical of people.”
“I…” he stammered, shocked at the honest emotion in her voice. “Thanks.”
She smiled then, a soft one, honest and kind. “I have faith in you, Darian. You are capable of great things and I know you will help us bring Zxex back home where he belongs.”
“I wish I was as sure of that as you are,” he admitted. “Kyle…Zxex and I had one hell of a falling out.”
“Might I ask what it was about?” she asked.
Another heavy sigh escaped him as he sank down on the edge of the bed and buried his head in his hands. “He saw me the same way that you do, but more than that, when I looked into his eyes I accidently saw the future, my future and how it related to him.” Darrell shook his head. “I couldn’t handle it, the trust, the expectation. You do know what I do for a living, right? Why there were guns all over my place?”
“Yes,” Kaandhal acknowledged. “You are a bounty hunter, or were, you will not need to make that kind of a living here.”
“And you know that I use my gifts to help me find the people I’m chasing,” he prompted. “That I dig around in the heads of their friends and family until I find the clues I need to locate them. Then I bring them in and I collect on their misfortune.”
“You regret it.”
“How can you tell?” he asked. “Reading my mind again?”
“No, it is in the sound of your voice and the sorrowful look in your eyes. It’s in the way you are curling in on yourself, as if you wish to hide. You do not have to be ashamed here either, Darian. None will hold your past against you. This is a clean slate. All you need to do is embrace it.




About the Author
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.
Layla Dorine can be found at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005197938547&fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/layladorine
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/layladorine/
Tumblr: https://layladorine.tumblr.com/
Author Website: layladorine13.wix.com/layladorineauthor
Author on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9814124.Layla_Dorine

Thursday, April 13, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Mirren Hogan


1. When/why did you decide to become a writer? *

Never. Writing decided it was something I needed to do. I didn't get a say. Lol
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today? *

Anyone who wrote fantasy and science fiction - HG Wells, Anne McCaffrey, CS Lewis. Now- I read a lot of books friends write, and my preference in genres is a little more broad.
3. What was the inspiration behind your latest release? *

My co-author. The basic concept of folklore monsters come to life and chasing our protagonists around Hawaii was hers. The dorky humour is mostly mine.
4. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life? *

I wrote for Flynn. He is Australian, like me, so many of the stories he tells and things like running into kangaroos are things which happened to me. He's also very loyal and would do anything to protect the people he loves. I envy his use of a spray can and lighter flamethrower though. That's all him. I suspect there might be a fair bit of Makani in Erin.
5. Why do you write in your chosen genre? What other genres would you like to try your hand at? *

I write the story that makes me write it. Genre comes later.
6. What would you do if you were your main character? *

Use that flamethrower baby! Lol. Seriously if I was Flynn I'd do what he does, and risk my life for Makani, over and over. Lucky she's there to rescue him.
7. Will we ever see these characters again? *

Books 2 and 3 are under contract with Burning Willow Press. Book 2 should be out in June 2018.
8. Would you like to see this book as a film or TV show? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters? *

Heck yes. It'd make a fun movie. I think I'd like a couple of young unknowns to play Flynn and Makani. Unless you can turn back time so a young Chris Hemsworth could play Flynn.
9. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

Hopefully still writing and selling a book here and there.
10. Is there anything you haven't touched on that you'd like readers to know about your book? *

Erin lives in Hawaii, so the places Makani and Flynn go are real, but so exotic (to me anyway).
11. What would you be doing if you weren't writing? *

Reading
12. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next? *

I'm currently working on a serial which is appaearing in Spiffycats magazine, and book 3 of a fantasy series.
13. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with? *

I'd like to write more with Erin, and with Jay Michael Wright II, and Kindra Sowder.
14. What are three things that may surprise your readers to know about you? *

I don't drink coffee, I have kangaroos on my yard and I breed parrots.
https://facebook.com/MirrenHoganAuthor/

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Barbara Winkes


1. When/why did you decide to become a writer? *

I have always loved writing and with short stories as a child, then moved on to longer works as a teenager. I got serious about publishing about six years ago.

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today? *

I've been drawn to books that had girls, later, women at the center - even better when there are more than one or two. I read various genres, but I love crime fiction like James Patterson's Women's Murder Club and Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles.
3. What was the inspiration behind your latest release? *

Initiations is #5 in the Carpenter/Harding thriller series. Ellie and Jordan are investigating a misogynistic cult. Unfortunately, the idea that women and men should act within narrowly defined roles persists around the globe, so there's no shortage of inspiration. Sometimes it's closer to home than you think. I have also written utopian fiction that tackles the problem (Rise) - here it's wrapped within a police procedural.
4. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life? *

Not specifically, no. The origin of a character, for me, can be the line of a song or a random thought, and I go from there.
5. Why do you write in your chosen genre? What other genres would you like to try your hand at? *

Most of my books are romance and suspense with lesbian main characters. I write them because I believe representation counts. The more variety we provide, the more complete the picture becomes. I have also written urban fantasy, dystopian, erotic romance and a political novel (the latter three are to be released next year). The Carpenter/Harding series will continue, so at the moment, my plate is pretty full. I might want to try a YA novel at some point.
6. What would you do if you were your main character? *

I'd be planning my wedding while solving tough cases! As it is, I am already married, and I work safely from behind my desk. I got it much better.
7. Will we ever see these characters again? *

Definitely. The next books are outlined until 2020 (I usually release two a year in this series).
8. Would you like to see this book as a film or TV show? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters? *

I'd love to. There are and have been great crime dramas with one or two women main characters, but not with a lesbian couple - so this would be something new. As for the cast, I'd like to leave it up to the reader to imagine...
9. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

With hopefully many more books out - possibly a new series. Generally, I hope readers continue to enjoy my books. And that TV show you mentioned above would be a dream!
10. Is there anything you haven't touched on that you'd like readers to know about your book? *

If you like suspense with serial characters, please check it out. The series is also available for Kindle Unlimited subscribers - the first book is Indiscretions.
11. What would you be doing if you weren't writing? *

I'd probably still be working as a psychologist.
12. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next? *

Another Carpenter/Harding book. However, the next release after Initiations will be a standalone novel called The Amnesia Project. It starts with a group of friends who travel to NYC. Paige disappears, and Dani dedicates her life to finding out what happened to her.
13. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with? *

Authors like James Patterson, Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter. That would be quite the thrill. ;)
14. What are three things that may surprise your readers to know about you? *

#1 I really don't like my voice on tape - so I love interviews like this! Ellie and Jordan first came to me while watching a reno show with a creepy basement (#2 I am watching a lot of those, and sometimes, they give me ideas). #3 I own a pair of shoes once worn by a famous actress in a movie.
15. Please list your links where readers can find you online and purchase your works. *

My website: barbarawinkes.wordpress.com

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

BOOK BLITZ: "A Shot of Sin" by Eden Summers




Title: A Shot of Sin
Series: The Vault #1
Author: Eden Summers
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
 Release Date: March 13, 2017



Blurb

Throw back a shot of pure sin.
Leo Petrova has a dirty secret that’s about to get blown wide open. The exclusive VIP area hidden beneath his night club, Shot of Sin, is short staffed a bartender. The only available replacement is Shay—his temptation, his distraction—the sole woman he refuses to escort down the secret staircase. She has no clue about the private adult club that lies beneath her feet and he’d prefer to keep it that way. The Vault of Sin is the only place he can let his sexual proclivities run wild and he’s learned the hard way that Shay is too virtuous to be comfortable in the erotic environment.

Shay Porter is curious as to why her boss, the king of mixed messages, seems almost desperate to keep her from discovering what’s on the other side of the guarded door at the back of the building. But she’s never backed down from a challenge before. Sliding into Leo’s arms and this new world of carnal exploration is addictive yet frightening. She could lose her job, her self-respect, and her heart.

Exposing a vanilla woman to a sorbet lifestyle isn’t something Leo’s business partners approve of. Secrets are at stake. Friendships, too. And through it all, neither one of them can ignore the wicked taste of sin threatening to tear it all apart.

Warning: This sex club does not carry the government’s stamp of approval. Contains devilish debauchery, delightful deviance, and dancing on the edge of the darkest of sexual desires.








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Also Available
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Author Bio

Eden Summers is a bestselling author of contemporary romance with a side of sizzle and sarcasm.
She lives in Australia with a young family who are well aware she's circling the drain of insanity. Eden can't resist alpha dominance, dark features and sarcasm in her fictional heroes and loves a strong heroine who knows when to bite her tongue but also serves retribution with a feminine smile on her face.


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BLOG TOUR: "Wicked Treasure" by Jordan Elizabeth

WICKED TREASURE 
Book 3 of the Treasure Chronicles 
A young adult novel of romance and the paranormal set in a steampunk world. 
An asylum patient has a cryptic vision: Clark will overthrow the presidency. She's just insane...right?  When a clockwork lion kidnaps their daughter, Clark and Amethyst's calm new life shatters. Hunting down the beast leads the Grishams and Treasures to a conspiracy not just against Clark, but also against the country.  The conspirators attacked their little girl. An offense like that can’t go ignored. With his old gang at his back, Clark is ready to take on an abandoned circus, dethroned royalty, a corrupt orphanage, and the presidency itself. 
# 
WICKED TREASURE is available now on Amazon from Curiosity Quills Press. 
Check out early reviews on GoodReads! 
# 
Can’t wait to read the next installment in the Treasure Chronicles world?  Check out the first chapter:  
They washed her hair, so she knew it was coming: the next visit. The nurse shoved Samantha’s head beneath the water in the tin tub, the liquid already cold from the air, and she stayed still; if she fought, they might bind her wrists. Last time they did that, the linen ropes had cut her skin. 
Droplets splashed over the edge as the middle-aged woman shoved her deeper, Samantha’s chin striking the bottom. Blood filled her mouth where her teeth had nipped her tongue. She fought to not gasp as the nurse pulled her up to drench her hair in lavender oil. 
The gas lamps shone too bright in the ceiling. Yellow glows twirled around each other like macabre dancers. She could drift back into the soapy water and inhale; death would take her to join that dancing. 
“Filthy nits,” the nurse mumbled as she yanked a silver comb through Samantha’s ginger curls. Oil splattered onto Samantha’s bare shoulders, pooling along her collarbone. 
She could say the nits weren’t her fault. She could request regular bathing. 
Samantha stared out the room’s lone barred window as tears stung her eyes. Each jerk of the comb snapped more hairs from her scalp, and the oil’s scent burned her lungs. 
A bell rang from somewhere deep within the asylum, muffled by brick and wood. Two nurses laughed in the hallway. They all got to go home at the end of their shifts. They had families and houses. 
Samantha could have pushed them into the tub until the final air bubbles burst past their lips. 
The comb clattered onto the side table, where cosmetic products had been lined up on a silver tray like medical instruments. Her gums where they’d ripped out her molars ached at the thought. Whatever rich sod received her teeth better have taken care of them. 
“Ugly thing.” The nurse jabbed pins into Samantha’s hair to keep her curls up. “Should shave your head, we should. Get rid of those nits and all this fussing. Get you a wig then. You’d like that, wouldn’t you, chit?” 
If it kept away the suffering of bathtime, then yes. 
“Rise.” Nurse Hairy Molethe huge brown mole grew at the tip of her noseslapped a ragged towel against Samantha’s frame. “We’ll put you in the sitting room this time. He didn’t like the parlor, said it was too cold. That man doesn’t like a thing.” 
And Samantha didn’t like him. 
# 
Captain MacFarland gritted his teeth as he took the front concrete steps two at a time. The stone plaque beside the door matched well with the asylum’s cold interior. 
Wade Asylum. The only institute in the northeast for the mentally unhinged. 
He hummed under his breath to keep away morbid thoughts, and the bronze attendant opened the door for him with a nod that sent the machine’s gears grinding. They might think him off, bringing music into the darkness, but the walls tended to close in around him, as if he too might become strapped into one of the cribs. 
He’d seen the cribs once when his friend had insisted they come to visit his wife. The cribs, Captain MacFarland understood, were reserved for those who fought confinement, and his friend’s wife had screamed as though a banshee had possessed her. 
Come night, dreams of Wade Asylum plagued him, and she’d haunted the majority for the past year. He could still hear her shriek, “You only put me here so you could be with that slut!” 
His friend had stroked his fingers across her arm, her wrists bound to the sides of the metal crib. “Of course. I’ll always love you, but you didn’t like my mistress. You’ll need to stay here until you can accept her. They’ll help you right your mind here.” 
The woman had spit at him, one of her eyes swollen shut. No one had told them who had punched her. 
Captain MacFarland hummed louder as he approached the mahogany front desk where a young nurse in a low-cut white bodice wrote in a journal. 
“Hello, Captain MacFarland.” She closed the journal and clasped her hands atop the leather cover. “Always so punctual, aren’t you?” The girl bent forward to expose more of her pale bosom. The song faltered in his throat as he pictured hopping over the counter to push her against the wall. He could push up her skirt, he imagined her without bloomers, and take her there in the waiting room that smelled of lamp oil. Those pink-painted lips of hers would part in a gasp, and she might even bite his neck. He loved it when they bit. 
“I pride myself on punctuality.” He pulled the brass pocket watch from his brown jacket to flash her the time, and she smiled enough to show her straight white teeth. 
“I made sure to assign you the sitting room in her ward, Captain. I recall how much you loathed the parlor.” 
How anyone could call that drafty room a parlor escaped him. “Wonderful. I was wondering, Miss Nurse, about how you would feel meeting over a meal this evening. We could talk more about what it’s like here at Wade.” 
“Captain, yes! I get done here at six if that works.” She chewed on her fingernail before she tipped back in her seat, her bosom bouncing. “I’ll get an orderly to show you to the patient, sir.” 
He leaned one arm on the desk and winked. “I’d like that.” 
His pleasure diminished with each step as he followed the brass orderly, who moved on wheeled feet, toward Ward 8. The machine unlocked door after door, and sealed them behind, until he seemed he’d entered a box he could never escape. Bars covered the few windows; bare bricks replaced wooden paneling on the walls. Gas lamps flickered close to the ceilings. 
The air adopted a damp, musty odor, mixed with medicine he didn’t recognize. 
The orderly unlocked a final door and entered what he assumed counted as a sitting room. Unlike the parlor with a table and chairs, this space offered velveteen settees. Light shone through two windows across the chipped tile floor. 
Samantha sat on the settee closest to the door. Iron cuffs fastened her ankles together, visible beneath her black velvet skirt. The material matched the collar of her purple brocade jacket. 
“I see you’re wearing the clothes I sent.” He cleared his throat when it rasped, and he glanced at the orderly, but of course it couldn’t make judgments on what it overheard. By order of the government, the orderly who attended them had to have its recorder removed so the conversation wouldn’t leave. 
Someone had painted her lips a too dark red. “You can take them with you when you leave. I never get to see them again.” 
“What do you wear normally?” Captain MacFarland had always imagined the girl posing in them before a mirror whenever he departed. He chose the highest fashion for her to make her feel… well, like she wasn’t a mental patient. 
“A shift.” Samantha shrugged. “We’re not allowed anything else, and it’s sewn on us, didn’t you know. If we had loose sleeves, we could strangle ourselves.” 
Her matter of fact tone made him shudder. He dropped onto the settee across from her. The last time he’d sat beside her, she’d lunged toward his eyes, and the orderly had pinned her down while administering a sedative from those brass fingers. The trip had been wasted. 
“Do you remember,” he murmured, “when you were a child and I brought you peppermint sticks?” He should have done that for her again. Her green eyes had always adopted a life then, rather than the bloodshot, bulging quality they possessed otherwise. 
“Better than the toys. They took those away after you left.” 
He coughed. “How are you, Samantha?” It seemed wrong to take what he wanted and leave. She deserved a social call; he knew he was her only visitor, and his boss only required one visit every two months. 
“They don’t allow me to take lessons anymore now that I’m sixteen.” 
Captain MacFarland winced. Her birthday had occurred earlier in the month. He should have given her more than the clothes, no matter they would vanish. A nurse probably commandeered them. 
“What do you do with your days then?” When she was younger, before she realized what it meant to be in Wade Asylum, she would have chatted with him about nonsense, like shapes she spotted in the clouds. He could have told her about the upcoming date with the nurse, and she could have told colors looked best on him. Brown, he already knew, but hearing from her had always brightened him. 
Then, she asked questions he couldn’t answer. She learned about life outside from the nurses. She came to hate him as her jailer. 
Samantha tipped her head as if judging his query. He’d brought her a hat this time, and it slid cockeyed across her head. Sixteen… young lady now despite her frail frame. He was thankful he’d delivered the white blouse with the high lace collar, fastened with a cameo one of the nurses must have supplied; it fit with a more mature age. 
“I’m drugged up,” she said. “They didn’t give me anything, because of you I suppose. This is Ward 8. I hear stuff, you know. Ward 9 is the toughest. Constant lockdown. Violent criminals. I’m just in the criminal wing.” She scowled, her yellow teeth crooked. “We can’t wander. Oh no, that would be too dangerous. We get ropes and medicine.” 
Ropes and medicine. Bile burned his throat. It wouldn’t help if he voiced aloud his wish for a different life, one where his boss didn’t make her stay under lock and key. One where he didn’t have to venture into the sterile building to see her on a clockwork basis. 
“I’m not crazy.” She’d said that at every visit since she turned ten. “I know why I’m here. Someday the doctor’s going to believe me.” 
“Oh, sweetie.” The doctor could believe her all he wanted. Money kept him quiet and her confined, and so long as he kept getting his checks, he wouldn’t so much as whisper the truth in his sleep. 
Her pale face hardened, and she stuck out her hands, the fingernails broken, blood caked under them. “Come get what you want.” 
He pulled off his leather gloves and placed them in his jacket pockets. Something told him he’d be doing this for the rest of his life, and was only thirty-four. “Tell me what the country needs to know.” 
She squeezed her eyes shut and breathed through her mouth, the sound loud and harsh in the room where the only noise came from the tick-tock of the orderly’s body. He gripped her hands and interlaced their fingers, hoping it would lend her strength. 
Perspiration dotted her skin despite the frigid winter air. Snowflakes stuck to the window glass. A trickle of blood seeped from her left nostrils and her teeth chattered. Her eyeballs rolled back in her head as her lids fluttered. 
“Tell me what the country needs to know,” he repeated. 
“Clark Grisham will overthrow the presidency.” 

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Jordan Elizabeth became obsessed with steampunk while working at a Victorian Fair.  Since then, she’s read plenty of books and even organized a few steampunk outfits that she wears on a regular basis (unless that’s weird, in which case she only wears them within the sanctuary of her own home – not!). Jordan’s young adult novels include ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, COGLING, TREASURE DARKLY, BORN OF TREASURE, RUNNERS AND RIDERS, GOAT CHILDREN, PATH TO OLD TALBOT, and VICTORIAN WICKED TREASURE is her sixth novel with Curiosity Quills Press.  Check out her website for bonus scenes and contests.   
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In honor of WICKED TREASUREcheck out book one, TREASURE DARKLY, on sale now for 99 cents!