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Desiree Holt: Double Deception (Contest)
Monday, September 3rd, 2018

UPDATE: The winner is…Misty Dawn!
*~*~*

Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate

“New company creates hackproof proprietary software…”

“DHS warns companies targeted on dark web”

“Hacker exploits Netgear router to nab US military drone files”

“Chinese group engaging in cyber espionage against US companies, report says”

“FBI warns hackers are targeting internet routers”

 

Software by Design creates new hackproof security software
By Joe Mallory
The Electronic Blog

In a world where suddenly nothing on a computer is safe, Liam Benedict, the wunderkind of proprietary software, is setting the world on fire with his ability to design software that will work only for one program on one system. It’s a boon for both corporations and Benedict, because the software is broken apart and reconfigured each time a client begins a new project.

Benedict says it also can protect financial information at banks, financial management firms, any entity where privacy and secrecy are more important than anything else. He has a team of trained, trustworthy experts who write code and create programs that are virtually impenetrable.

His explosion of success has come to the attention of Arroyo, a multinational conglomerate run by billionaire Taylor Cantrell and her husband, Noah. They were recently here in Tampa to seal the deal to make SBD a part of Arroyo. This reporter tried to arrange an interview with them but was told everything goes through their public relations department on San Antonio, Texas.

We did, however, learn that the company is moving to larger, more secure quarters even as you read this. There is also a rumor that Benedict’s newest client is a defense contractor who may or may not be designing a super secret project for the Department of Defense.

I’ll be doing my best to keep you updated.

 

Out and About Tampa Bay
The blog that tells it all

Is there a romance brewing or is the tech world’s newest wunderkind in some kind of trouble? High profile, much-in-demand criminal defense attorney Sydney Alfiore was spotted having drinks with Liam Benedict, owner of Software By Design. Benedict is much in demand because of his firm’s ability to design software that is project specific. Defense contractors are lining up to hire him. Rumor has it he has a new client who needs the best firewall in the world for a super hush-hush project.

Alfiore, meanwhile, is smack in the middle of a very high profile murder trial, where it’s said her client may be on the verge of convicted. Don’t believe it. Alfiore always pulls a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute. The media has been covering the trial on a daily basis and every television station wants five minutes of her time.

So how did these two people find the time to meet for a drink? And look very cozy doing it?

Stay tuned for further details.

Double Deception

No one could tell who was telling the truth…

For Liam Benedict, the merging of Software by Design into the Arroyo mega-conglomerate is a dream come true—until someone on his staff screws with critical software and puts the company and its future in grave jeopardy. Suddenly life is not so euphoric for Liam. His contract with a defense contractor is in jeopardy, he doesn’t know who to trust on his staff and there is a distinct possibility a foreign power is behind the whole thing.

When forensic data analyst Eric Braun discovers who it is and how they did it, he is killed before he can tell Liam who the mole is. Framed by the killer, Liam is arrested for murder. It will take the combined resources of beautiful criminal defense attorney Sydney Alfiore, the woman he, loves, and the huge Arroyo Corporation to solve the riddle, but can they do it in time?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo| Totally Bound | iTunes

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Jarrod Bancroft: Five Novellas in One (FREE BOOK)
Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

 


Jarrod Bancroft Series – Five Novellas, NOW – all in one massive volume
Jarrod Bancroft: The Novel

Part I – A Gift for Jarrod

Life has been too easy for Jarrod Bancroft—rich parents, football star, law degree, high powered job, women by the score. Something is missing. He wants whatever Stonybrook Academy can dish out, much as it scares the hell out of him. And he was right to be afraid. He never imagined this. And the voice behind Madam’s mask sounds familiar, but after days of torture and deprivation, Jarrod’s only thought is to obey.

With everything she cared about gone, Dominatrix Macie Fitzgerald has built a new life in service to those seeking pain and submission. She takes pride in her success. So when she accepts Jarrod Bancroft’s application to her next training session, she acknowledges the risk. The ten years that have passed since he was her high school history student have only made him more magnificent in every

way.

Macie faces her biggest challenge as she struggles to fulfill her professional obligation to give Jarrod what he wants. What he needs.

Part I, now FREE at Smashwords

Get ALL five novellas in one big bundle. eBook format, now for a limited time, only $3.99 Amazon Smashwords

Paperback at Amazon, $14.99

 

Part II – Valentine’s Day

In the two months since Jarrod Bancroft showed up at her Academy for submission training, Macie Fitzgerald has violated every rule she ever made for herself. But as Jarrod keeps nudging the line, Macie must confront her fears about this man and the fires of desire he ignites in all her secret places.

Jarrod Bancroft knows what he wants: Macie. What she doesn’t give, he takes—a risky venture when you’re a sub. To complicate matters, there’s a legal hammer hanging over his head at Bancroft Investments that threatens to ruin his professional future. He takes comfort that Macie has his back, even if only in yet another sadistic torment.

But does she really? Or has he pushed too far?

Part III – Spring Break

Jarrod’s life takes an unexpected and life-threatening turn when he’s sucked into his father’s illegal business mess. Powerless as a nightmare unfolds around him, he dreams of his queen, the only woman he wants. But there’s nothing Macie can do for him now.

Terrified over Jarrod’s disappearance, Macie makes her choice. She loves him. She’ll do anything to help him. No risk is too great, even confronting the tyrant responsible for Jarrod’s danger.

Mysteries unfold as Jarrod fights to save himself and stake his claim on the woman he loves.

Part IV – A Day in Paradise

Macie confronts her worst fears after Jarrod disappears. Desperate to help, she risks body and soul in an effort to gain his freedom.

Held captive, Jarrod realizes his life is in danger. But he’s powerless, locked in a room with no escape. With only his wits and the lessons he’s learned at the point of Macie’s whip, he struggles to save himself.

 

 

Part V – Homecoming

Jarrod may be free of the island, but he is not free from what happened there. Each day is a nightmare of memories and new revelations. He’s in an assassin’s crosshairs. Worse, so are Macie and Chris.

Unable to penetrate Jarrod’s emotional barricades, Macie tries to forget him. But nothing works, and more than ever, she’s at risk of heartbreak. And death.

NOTICE: This book includes scenes of extreme BDSM. For adults only.

Coming September 11th!
Saturday, September 1st, 2018

This is just a reminder, in case you haven’t already pre-ordered it! I’m posting late because I’m still working on finishing up this book. Yeah, I’m last-minute-Lucy with this story. So many things happening in this crazy house, it’s hard to meet deadlines anymore.

Anyway, thought you might like a glimpse inside the story. It’s got a hot SEAL hero, a bad-luck bounty hunter, action, humor, hot-HAWT sex, so you know, the usual! 🙂

Have a peek! And if you’re wondering why on earth I didn’t spell out SEX in the title of the book, I didn’t want my book listed in porn-prison on Amazon.

S*x on the Beach

Navy SEAL Carson Walsh is ready to live the good life. After surviving fifteen deployments in ten years, he bailed on the SEALs figuring this cat had run out of lives. Now living in Cabo San Lucas, the only danger he faces is choking on an oyster or drowning in beer—and then he meets her.

Gina Tripp is the Calamity Jane of bounty hunters. She’s the stand-in for an absent groom on her girlfriend’s honeymoon in Cabo when she meets a cute guy with a nothing but sex on the beach in mind. But she has her sights set on scoring a huge bounty—an ex-pat skip hiding out in Mexico. All she has to do is figure out how to perform her own extradition of her target. One drunken night later and a wild ride on a drug-runner’s plane, she’s pretty relieved she hijacked a Navy SEAL to help her with the job, even if he’s an unwilling participant who has to put his rusty skills to use to keep them both alive.

Pre-order your copy here!

Excerpt from S*x on the Beach

Gina sat on the red leather couch in the honeymoon suite her best friend was supposed to be sharing with her husband. But as usual, Gina’s string of bad luck had struck again. Maggie had left minutes ago, hoping to figure out how her life had taken such a crazy turn, while Gina sat, a little dazed from the morning’s odd happenings. Well, truthfully, the “dazed” bit was likely the last remnants of all the alcohol she’d consumed the night before.

She’d been in the hotel bar the night before, ready to tie one on with her best buddy to prove to Maggie she didn’t need any stinking man, when the bartender had asked her what she’d wanted. She’d been ready to order her usual Manhattan, but she was on vacation, and she wanted something new, something she hadn’t tried before.

“I hear Sex on the Beach is pretty good.”

The sexy drawl had pulled her gaze to the side where she locked gazes with one of the most delicious looking men she’d ever seen. She’d glanced at Maggie, who seemed to be doing fine, chatting with an equally sexy, well-built man. So, what the hell? A girl only lived once. She turned to the bartender. “That’s what I want. Sex on the Beach.”

The man beside her had chuckled then lifted his chin at the bartender. “Put it on my tab.”

As easy as that, she’d allowed her future booty-call to buy her drinks then draw her onto the dancefloor where he’d pulled her close, tempting her with his hard body and sliding hands. As soon as they’d finished their second slow dance, she’d been so breathless and hot, she’d pulled him toward the exit and then led him all the way back to her hotel room—after she’d assured herself that Maggie was having a good time. Maggie had been salsa dancing and looked like she was having the time of her life—and was heading toward the exit, hand-in-hand with her sexy man. Gina had only felt a slight twinge of guilt letting her leave like that.

No, her mind had been on the wicked Navy SEAL, who’d proven to be very adept at giving a woman mind-blowing orgasms.

“Well, that was awkward,” Carson Walsh said as he stepped into hotel room door carrying two Styrofoam coffee cups. “I met your friend at the elevator. She didn’t look very happy.” His gaze raked over her. “Well, damn, you got dressed.”

He sounded so disappointed Gina almost felt sorry for him, but she wasn’t over feeling sorry for herself. Yes, Gina Trip had done it again—tripped all over herself and wound up in bed with a hunky Navy SEAL while her best friend had married a complete stranger the night before.

She blew out a breath that billowed her cheeks. Reality had settled in like a wet blanket the second Maggie had left with her brand-spanking-new husband, Chase Flannigan, on a hunt to fill in the missing pieces from their memories after their drunken binge—and to figure out how they could quickly annul their marriage. “I’m a terrible wing-woman. I just wanted Maggie to have some fun. Dance a little. Maybe get laid. She was into him, I thought. How was I supposed to know she’d go and marry a complete stranger? A little rebound sexy maybe, but married?” She shook her head.

Carson handed her the coffee he’d left to find. “Caramel latte, just as you ordered.”

She glanced up and really looked at him. Was she any better off than Maggie? She’d willingly, knowingly, slept with a stranger. Okay, so he was sinfully handsome with his broad shoulders, ripped abs and tattooed biceps. And yes, his shaggy, sun-kissed blond hair, scruffy bearded cheeks, and sexy blue eyes caused her heart to flutter, but she’d resisted handsome before. What was it about these Navy SEALs that had women throwing caution to the wind to get inside their pants?

“Okay,” he said, taking a seat beside her. “You just looked at me like I did something wrong. Want to talk about it?”

She took a deep breath, hoping to cool her motor before she reached for him and compounded the sins she’d already committed with the lug. “I’m not a good friend. I shouldn’t have laughed.” But she hadn’t been able to help herself. The second Maggie had slammed through her bedroom door, shouting, Gina! What the hell happened last night? she’d been stunned by the sight of Maggie fuming while a buff, naked man stood beside her.

The man had been as cool as a cucumber and hadn’t tried to hide a thing.

Gina had managed a squeal and a “Geez, woman. Haven’t you ever heard of knocking?” But as Maggie had ranted on and on about how she’d woken up lying beside Chase, and that neither of them knew how they’d gotten there and why they were wearing wedding rings, Gina had realized something. Maggie wasn’t depressed anymore. There was color in her cheeks, a twinkle in her eyes, and her handsome husband had put that look there.

“This was supposed to be her honeymoon…” she murmured.

“I got that,” Carson said.

“Her fiancé ran off with the wedding planner. How cliché is that?”

“Got that, too.”

Gina frowned. “I whisked her away from the wedding as soon as we realized Lloyd wasn’t coming—and right before her father was set to arrive. We knew he’d flip his lid. But then, I told her she should take the vacation she’d planned. When she said she didn’t want to go alone, that it would be too depressing, I offered to come. I promised to be her wing-woman. Help her get her groove on.”

“I’d say, you did that.”

She gave him a narrowed glance, sure he was secretly laughing at her, but his expression was…concerned. For her? Her heart fluttered again. “A wing-woman is supposed to keep her friend from doing something irreversibly stupid.”

“Would you feel better if we went after them and helped them sort this out?”

She frowned, remembering how Chase had seemed committed to sticking close to Maggie, especially after someone had sent a text to Gina’s phone, threatening to harm Maggie if her new boyfriend didn’t show up that night to settle some score neither Maggie or Chase knew a thing about. They’d both been so wasted every single detail of their night together was a big black hole of nothing. “Chase seems…capable. He’ll keep her safe.” She bit her lower lip, considering what a good friend would do at a moment like this. Then she glanced at Carson. “For all her shouting, she seemed…more herself. Maybe she needs him more than she needs me right now.”

He nodded. “Okay, so that leaves you here. Alone. With me.” He waggled his eyebrows.

Heat crept across her cheeks. “I don’t sleep with men I don’t know. And I know Maggie never has either. I mean, I have sex, sure, but I usually expect a little effort from a guy—dinner, a movie… What is it with you SEALs that makes women ready to drop their panties at hello?”

His mouth stretched into a wicked, very confident grin. “Last night, you said it was something about all the muscles…”

She wrinkled her nose. “I did, didn’t I?” Feeling pretty sexy herself beneath his smoldering gaze, she reached across his lap and settled her hand on the burgeoning knot between his legs. She didn’t know how to go slow with this man.

“Not a muscle, not technically,” he said, while his eyelids dipped, and he gave her that sexy look that had made her wet in a second last night in the bar.

“What the hell,” she whispered as she stood and then climbed over his lap. With her thighs spread, she angled her body to rub against his erection. “Maybe if we do this again, I’ll decide I’ve had enough. A girl can only have so many orgasms before she gets bored, right?”

“Think so?” he said, chuckling.

“Seeing as I hadn’t done this in a while, before last night, I should reach the point pretty soon where it gets uncomfortable. Then I’ll be able to resist.”

“Let’s see how that works for you…”

She gasped as he fisted his hair in her curls. Carson already knew she went wild when a man grabbed her hair. “Pull harder,” she whispered against his mouth.

Carson growled and fisted tighter. The sting caused the muscles up and down her channel to ripple and her core to heat. She’d never thought of herself as overly sexual, but with this man, she was a full-blown nympho. She could lose herself in the pleasure because he knew exactly how to touch her.

Gina pulled at his shirt, rucking it up to expose his chest, and then did the same with hers, unlatching her bra so she could press her bared breasts against his hot skin and silky, light brown chest hair.

Then she rose, set her feet on the floor and shimmied out of her shorts. He continued kissing her, cupping one breast with his free hand while she thumbed open his jeans. When he lifted, she pushed to get them down his hips, just far enough to free his cock, which sprang full and hard between them.

Again, she settled her knees on the cushions beside his hips and reached to guide him to her entrance. With a downward glide, she took him, bouncing gently on his cock as she consumed it.

Once their groins were flush, she circled her hips. Good Lord, she felt full. “Did I mention that you’re big?”

“Yeah, the second I lost my pants last night. I think you squeaked.”

Good Deeds (Contest)
Friday, August 31st, 2018

UPDATE: The winners are…Peggy, Colleen, Debra, Jennifer, and Kelley!
*~*~*


“Crown every passing day with some good action daily.” ~Martin Tupper

I collect quotes. I have for years. They provide me a daily affirmation. A rule to live by. Or simply inspiration to be a better me. I like this one because it reminds me that good deeds aren’t something you do when you feel like it, or when they are scheduled. As well, they don’t have to be large gestures.

For example, yesterday, I made my mother breakfast. The day before, I babysat the littlest one for my daughter. I don’t note when I do something nice for someone else, because I’m not doing it to receive praise, but because it’s a healthy way to live—good for my psyche. I’m not doing it because I want to earn my way into heaven or to earn points with the Powers That Be. Doing good deeds reminds me I’m part of the world, part of a family, someone needed. And I do know I’m appreciated.

So, my question for you today is what good deed will you do today? Or is there some small thing you did yesterday that you’d like to share? Fitting in good deeds in our busy, everyday lives can be a very easy thing to do!

Comment for a chance to win your choice of one of my short stories!

Lizzie Ashworth: Jarrod Bancroft — Five Novellas in One (FREE BOOK)
Thursday, August 30th, 2018



Jarrod Bancroft Series – Five Novellas, NOW – all in one massive volume: Jarrod Bancroft: The Novel

Part I – A Gift for Jarrod

Life has been too easy for Jarrod Bancroft—rich parents, football star, law degree, high powered job, women by the score. Something is missing. He wants whatever Stonybrook Academy can dish out, much as it scares the hell out of him. And he was right to be afraid. He never imagined this. And the voice behind Madam’s mask sounds familiar, but after days of torture and deprivation, Jarrod’s only thought is to obey.

With everything she cared about gone, Dominatrix Macie Fitzgerald has built a new life in service to those seeking pain and submission. She takes pride in her success. So when she accepts Jarrod Bancroft’s application to her next training session, she acknowledges the risk. The ten years that have passed since he was her high school history student have only made him more magnificent in every

way.

Macie faces her biggest challenge as she struggles to fulfill her professional obligation to give Jarrod what he wants. What he needs.

Part I, now FREE at Smashwords

Get ALL five novellas in one big bundle. eBook format, now for a limited time, only $3.99 Amazon Smashwords

Paperback at Amazon, $14.99

 

Part II – Valentine’s Day

In the two months since Jarrod Bancroft showed up at her Academy for submission training, Macie Fitzgerald has violated every rule she ever made for herself. But as Jarrod keeps nudging the line, Macie must confront her fears about this man and the fires of desire he ignites in all her secret places.

Jarrod Bancroft knows what he wants: Macie. What she doesn’t give, he takes—a risky venture when you’re a sub. To complicate matters, there’s a legal hammer hanging over his head at Bancroft Investments that threatens to ruin his professional future. He takes comfort that Macie has his back, even if only in yet another sadistic torment.

But does she really? Or has he pushed too far?

Part III – Spring Break

Jarrod’s life takes an unexpected and life-threatening turn when he’s sucked into his father’s illegal business mess. Powerless as a nightmare unfolds around him, he dreams of his queen, the only woman he wants. But there’s nothing Macie can do for him now.

Terrified over Jarrod’s disappearance, Macie makes her choice. She loves him. She’ll do anything to help him. No risk is too great, even confronting the tyrant responsible for Jarrod’s danger.

Mysteries unfold as Jarrod fights to save himself and stake his claim on the woman he loves.

Part IV – A Day in Paradise

Macie confronts her worst fears after Jarrod disappears. Desperate to help, she risks body and soul in an effort to gain his freedom.

Held captive, Jarrod realizes his life is in danger. But he’s powerless, locked in a room with no escape. With only his wits and the lessons he’s learned at the point of Macie’s whip, he struggles to save himself.

 

 

Part V – Homecoming

Jarrod may be free of the island, but he is not free from what happened there. Each day is a nightmare of memories and new revelations. He’s in an assassin’s crosshairs. Worse, so are Macie and Chris.

Unable to penetrate Jarrod’s emotional barricades, Macie tries to forget him. But nothing works, and more than ever, she’s at risk of heartbreak. And death.

NOTICE: This book includes scenes of extreme BDSM. For adults only.

Genevive Chamblee: What is romance?
Wednesday, August 29th, 2018



I think most people will agree love and romance are different. One can definitely be in a loving relationship that lacks romance. How often has one heard someone comment the spark has gone out of a relationship or that the fire needs to be rekindled? Does that mean the relationship dead or the love has vanished? Possibly. But the chances are what is lacking isn’t love but romance.

So, what is romance? Romance is acts or gestures that create a feeling of being wooed or special and enhances feelings of deep or intimate affection plus a whole lot more. Truth is, there exists no simple answer to define it. Most default to describing what it looks like in action. Most also would agree romance is different for men and women. A woman may swoon by having a surprise bouquet of flowers sent to her job while a man may be blown away by having his significant other bring him an icy, cold beer during the big game. This is not to say a man wouldn’t appreciate flowers or a woman a nice tall one. Romance means going beyond or exceeding the normal bounds to express tenderness. It expresses the appreciation of another person and blooms exhilaration. Romance fuels passion.

Romance doesn’t have to be grand or expensive gestures. Opening a door, holding an umbrella over, or even a wink all can be romantic. And they’re all free—unless the person has to buy the umbrella or the door being held is to an establishment with a cover charge. That’s why it’s puzzling that a man would take a date to an inexpensive greasy spoon with ripped, pleather seats when he could make PB&J, pack a blanket, and take her to a sweet spot under the stars. (Disclaimer to my fellow southerner who know timing is everything. Doing this in the wrong moth will get you swarmed with lovebugs—not romantic—or eat up by mosquitos—or worse if you’re down on the lower bayou. Plan wisely, or at least, have a pistol handy.)

Romance involves thought. Treating him to a birthday dinner can be romantic. Taking him to a seafood buffet because you forgot he’s allergic to shellfish would be crappy, and thus, a failure in the romance category. Of course, some smart aleck will argue that if she remembered to bring an EpiPen this still could constitute romantic. But no, it still would be an “epi fail”—sort of like this joke. Romance must consider the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and health.

Readers of romance look for these elements and connections in stories. Often if a romance novel is a flop, it’s because the author has incorrectly defined romance and instead focused on meaningless gestures that do not deepen the bond between characters. This occurs in the real world, too. But if one was to really think about it, being romantic isn’t all that complicated. Follow the heart, and it all comes naturally.

Don’t forget to visit Creole Bayou. New posts are made on Wednesdays. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Enjoy sports romance? Check out my new adult romance, Defending the Net, being released in November. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Preorder now at: https://books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first in my hockey romance series? Don’t worry. Out of the Penalty Box, an adult romance where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Copies of all my books and stories are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed in my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my novels or stories.

NEWSLETTER! Want to get the latest information and updates about my writing projects, giveaways, contests, and reveals first? Click on http://bit.ly/2zJjUdb and signup today.

If you enjoy reading this post, please share it with your friends and family. There’s never too many people in the bayou. Spread the word.

Flashback: Frannie and The Private Dick (Contest)
Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

UPDATE: The winners are…Colleen, Elysian, and Buttons!
*~*~*

The Night Fall series was one of my first. I still love it, and I try to add to the series every now and then, because I can’t let that world go. I wrote the first story in 2003 or 2004, and I added Big Bad Wolf last year. I’ve had fun writing them. The stories are filled with danger, plenty of sexy encounters, and humor. One of the funniest, I think, is  Frannie and The Private Dick. The title came first, and the adventure spun out from there…

For a chance to win your choice from among the Night Fall stories,
answer me this…

Is there a paranormal show on TV that you adore, past or present?

Silent is the Knight Sm(b)itten Truly, Madly ... Deadly  
Knight Edition Night Fall On Dark Mountain Frannie and the Private Dick Sweet Succubus Truly, Madly...Werely (Night Fall Book 9)
Bad to the Bone Long Howl Good Night  
Click on the covers to learn more!

Frannie and The Private Dick

Frannie and the Private Dick

Bent on catching her cheating fiancé in the act, Frannie Valentine got sidetracked by a little thing like dying. When she awakens, Frannie learns her pampered life will never be the same, so she turns to the man responsible for her undeadness and demands he take on the responsibility of giving her a little job training—in the PI biz.

Niall Keegan never intended to make himself a mate, but Frannie’s string of minor disasters, which ended with her dying in his arms, took the decision right out of his hands. While the mating part isn’t bad, making the disaster-prone Frannie a PI may just be the death of him.

Excerpt from Frannie and The Private Dick

Francesca Valentine had died and gone to hell. No other explanation made sense. She swam back to awareness through a molasses-thick void to find herself suddenly spat out from a dark womb into a cold, hollow space. Blind, and so still she knew she didn’t breathe, her mind turned over like a sluggish engine before revving into high gear.

Quickly, she assessed what she knew. She lay on a hard surface, covered with a scratchy square of thin fabric, unable to move a muscle. A low whine, like that of an air-conditioner, came from the opposite side of the space. Harsh light shone from above, warming her face, but hurting her closed eyes. So, she probably wasn’t blind after all. But she was definitely dead. Stone-cold. Her chest wasn’t moving in and out, but she didn’t feel starved for air.

She knew who she was and what had killed her, but hadn’t a clue what new fix she’d landed herself in. From nearby came the scrape of footsteps and a tentative humming, then…

“Bee-ooot-ee-foll Dreeeeamer, wake unto me…”

She was in hell all right. A demented spirit hovered over her, emitting an off-key warbling that set Frannie’s teeth on edge. By the rusty sound of the grating voice, her tormentor must be an ancient female, and the she-devil was trying to remove the skin from her face in slow, abrasive circles with…apricot-scented facial scrub? Frannie’d had a chemical peel the week before. The last thing she needed was a dime store product applied to her professionally maintained skin. Read the rest of this entry »