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Archive for 'dystopian'

Lizzie Ashworth: Refuge in His Arms (Excerpt)
Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Ideas for this story rolled around in my head for years before I started trying to write it. I am one of those who learned to hide under my schoolroom desk in case of an atomic bomb attack, so yeah, that kind of gives away my age group. When I met the right guy and we wanted to start a family, we still had that idea of an imminent attack. So we grew our own food and stored salt and prepared in a hundred other ways to ensure our survival when doomsday arrived.

I’m happy to say that the Cold War ended, and we’ve (hopefully) moved away from someone’s finger hovering over the red button that would start a nuclear war. But that threat remains, as well as many other newer threats, and not all of them caused by a political adversary. Nature has a whole bundle of tricks up her sleeve as well.

What happens if/when the power goes out, not for an hour or a day, but for weeks—or longer? What happens if our cars don’t work? I wanted to explore these ideas—and somehow make it a romance.

There’s nothing new about a massive earthquake in the Los Angeles area, but every time that story is told, there’s an annoying focus on the adventure aspect of it, people dying, sirens wailing, etc. I wanted to create a romance forced by circumstance. I also wanted to delve deep into what it would mean to do away with conveniences like electricity and transportation. I tossed it all in and stirred.

Refuge in His Arms is the result, and I’m proud to say it’s a compelling story with circumstances based fully in scientific facts. It’s also rich with the sensual connections between two people who had to come a long way together, figuratively and literally.

Right now, the book is FREE in Kindle Unlimited. Take advantage of this countdown deal to grab your copy for as low as 99 cents. The deal runs from November 24 through November 30, and if you know about countdown deals, you know that the 99 cent price won’t last long.

Refuge in His Arms

Strangers meet in a cataclysmic crisis and despite their prickly acquaintance, circumstances force them to cooperate. Not what Mackenzie expected or ever wanted. Not what David could have ever imagined, and yet here they are fleeing Los Angeles together. Bad turns to worse as a geomagnetic storm wipes out the power grid and stops the car, leaving them stranded in Flagstaff.

In this journey in search of food and shelter with her faithful German Shepherd Captain by her side, Mackenzie Kilpatrick denies her attraction to this man. He’s forced himself on her, an opportunist who only needs what she has. He might be the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen, and he might have hidden talents, but she’s totally not interested. Is she?

Tumbling down from his rock star success, David Evans thought he’d found bottom. But this is worse, dependent for his very survival on an angry woman who barely tolerates him. He’s hanging on, trying to do right, but how can he ever meet her impossible standards? He just wants to hold her, wrap his arms around her and ease her pain.

Is there a place for them to find safety?

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Excerpt from Refuge in His Arms

They spent the rest of the morning gathering wood from a few vacant areas surrounding the shopping center, piling it on either side of the spot Mackenzie deemed best for a fire. David settled into his assigned role as helper, convinced that if he expressed his concerns or ideas, she’d send him away. Did that make him a weakling? The way he saw it, he didn’t have much choice. Every time he caught her looking at him, she was frowning like he was so much excess baggage.

Maybe that was her default attitude, all hostile and wound up tight. He’d like to unwind her, button by button until her delectable body stretched out before him like a feast of epicurean proportions. He already knew she’d taste delicious, those long legs spread open to reveal the soft pink folds of her intimate womanhood. Damn. Why did his mind conjure up such fantasies when his rational mind knew there wasn’t a chance in hell of making it reality? He shifted the load of dead brush in his arms in order to adjust the pressure on the front of his jeans.

The place she designated for the fire sat halfway between two small trees in the median near her car. No chance of fire spreading from there. Plus it was near enough to the car they didn’t have to shuttle supplies very far. He spent an hour gathering rocks to create a decent boundary for the fire.

Memories flashed, times he’d visited his grandparents’ farm when he was little, a rundown place somewhere in Kentucky. His granddad took him fishing at the pond, and he’d proudly come home with a catfish. Step by step, Granddad showed him how to gut and fillet that fish with a knife that had been sharpened so many times the blade was razor thin. They’d built a fire in an outdoor fire pit. The fish sizzled in a big iron skillet as the flames twisted and curled, orange and red, his granddad squatting beside him. Even without words, they shared something important, watching that fire. That fish tasted better than anything he’d ever put in his mouth.

He loved those people. They didn’t live in a fancy house. His mom smiled there and in some of his earliest memories, his dad had helped Grandpa out in the barn, working on an old car. They had a garden, chickens, and a hog with a bunch of little piglets running around. If he was there now, he’d figure it out. Do things. But he was in fucking Arizona in the middle of a parking lot, his future entirely too dependent on a woman who apparently wished he’d disappear. If this woman needed to keep him at arm’s length, he’d do it just to survive. If he pushed his luck with this crazy attraction he felt, he would end up alone.

He sighed and stood up to squint at the sky. “About noon.”

She glanced at her watch and looked at him with a strange expression. “Noon.”

Whatever that meant, he didn’t try to figure out. After her comment about a husband, as if she didn’t still have a husband—well, he had an idea that the man had died and she had shut down. Not something he could ask about. He watched her out of the corner of his eye, sorry for what she must have suffered, still suffered, this woman with the sad luminous eyes.

They knocked then waited at the side door of the supermarket. Sun beat down, baking the top of his head and searing his shoulders through the shirt. A black t-shirt was definitely not the ideal garment for standing in full August sunlight even if it was threadbare. His skin prickled as sweat rolled down his sides.

They knocked twice again.

“Do you think there’s someone in there?” he said finally.

She looked up at him. Streaks of amber and black shot through her brown irises. How had he not noticed the thick fringe of long dark lashes or the expressive narrow eyebrows, one of which now cocked as she glared at him.

“Did you have an appointment somewhere?” she asked.

He exhaled. “Christ, you’re hard to deal with.”

“No one is forcing you to be here.”

“Yeah, someone is. You. You think I could walk away from you, leave you here with your dog and your stuff and no one to help you?”

“You mean, walk away from your only resource? Someone who has food and water and a safe place to sleep?”

He wanted to punch something. His fist opened and closed. Was she right? Was it all about him? “That’s not why I want to be here.”

“Bullshit.” She knocked again, slamming the side of her fist against the metal door.

“Not bullshit,” he said, straightening his shoulders as anger rose up his spine. He’d just about had it with her insults. “You may think you’ve got it all figured out, but you need me, and lady, if you don’t know that, then part of your brain isn’t working. You’ve needed me since you got stuck between that lamp post and the fence.”

Her eyes blazed as she rested her fists on her hips. “I could have handled that on my own. You were looking for a way out of there.”

“I didn’t have to choose between trying to salvage every fucking thing I own and going along to help you.”

“No, you absolutely did not.”

“Or leave behind every professional contact, every hope for a future.”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “You probably didn’t have any hope of a future or you wouldn’t have been so quick about leaving.”

Her words hit him like a fist to bone. He sucked in air, momentarily speechless. This was what he couldn’t do, and here he was, standing in the boiling sun in a sparring match with the only person who could help him. A real bitch. Maybe he should walk away. He could find another way.

“Fuck you,” he said harshly. “You know nothing about me. I’m trying to be nice.”

The slightest flash of concern crossed her face. Or maybe he imagined it. How bad did he need her, really? There were a thousand other women he could charm in this town alone.

“Just pointing out the facts,” she said. “Sorry if you don’t want to hear it.”

She folded her arms across her chest and turned to face the door. Her shoulders looked almost fragile under that thin shirt, reminding him of a wounded animal that would bite you before it would let you help it. He wanted to grasp those shoulders, pull her back against his chest, and whisper comforting words in her ears, stroke her hair until she calmed and relaxed.

Which was fucking ridiculous, because she’d just find a way to throw that back in his face, accuse him of trying to manipulate her or some other selfish motive. He could read the anger in her frame, right down to the tense angle of her lovely neck.


PLEASE HELP! This book needs reviews. Load up your friends for a holiday read-fest and knock this one out of the park! And, as ever, a big THANK YOU from Liz!

P.J. MacLayne: Hell’s Half Acre and a Giveaway!
Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Wyoming is a land of contrasts. There’s the rugged peaks of the Teton Range on the west side of the state, just south of the geysers and painted pots of Yellowstone. On the eastern edge of the state, you have Devil’s Tower among the rolling hills of near Hulett. In between, you have miles and miles of prairie and high plains, where there are more cattle than people.

But in the middle, there’s a strange geological site that few tourists ever see.  Even from the highway that goes by it, you can easily miss it if you don’t know it’s there. Until a few years ago, you were able to stand right at the crumbling edge if you dared to look over the sight, but now it’s fenced off.

The area goes by the name of Hell’s Half Acre, and I’m sure the early settlers thought it deserved the title. It’s a lot bigger than half an acre-actually about 320 acres. It’s an area of cliffs and rock spires and boulders and an assortment of colors. It’s hard to imagine what geological forces created it.

Lori Grenville, the main character in my new release, Wolves’ Gambit, didn’t have the opportunity to visit Hell’s Half Acre while she was in Wyoming. (I couldn’t figure out a way to write it into the story.) She spent her time in the dusty plains nearer to the Bighorn Mountains. She didn’t have time for sightseeing anyway.

Wolves’ Gambit

Wolf-shifter Lori Grenville was rescued from near-slavery and a brutal pack leader by the Free Wolves. To pay back the favor, she’s dedicated her life to helping others in the same situation, leading shifters to safety and a new start, risking her life in the process. She’s faced down alphas and has no qualms in undermining pack structure.

Now she’s challenged with the task of restoring an alpha to his rightful place. If she gets it right, she can stop a war from ripping apart two packs and spreading across an entire state. If she fails, she’ll be among the first to die.

There’s still the option of walking away and letting the Jaeger and Destin packs destroy each other. That means she’ll fail in her original mission of rescuing the daughter of the Jaeger alpha before the girl is forced into marriage for political gain.

Lori hasn’t failed in a mission yet. This one may be the exception.


“Breathe, dammit, breathe!”

Hands pounded on her chest. A spasm ran through her body and she gasped. Air rushed to her aching lungs. She struggled to breathe but her throat was blocked. She couldn’t stop coughing and bile rose. It settled at the back of her mouth. The acid mingled with the sweet flavor of blood and her stomach churned. She retched and a seizure wracked her body.

She was rolled on one side, too weak to protest. Her hair was gently brushed away from her face. She took a shuddering breath and spit, trying to get the bitter tang out of her mouth.

“I’ve got you,” a low voice said.

She heard the words both with her ears and her mind. She slammed the blocks into place. It was too risky to reveal herself when she had no defense against an attack.

A trickle of water slipped across her lips and her tongue darted out to capture it. “More,” she pleaded, and then coughed again.

“I’m going to sit you up so you can have a proper sip. Don’t worry, I have you, little human.”

Strong arms wrapped around her and brought her to a sitting position. The screaming pain in her leg settled into a dull ache. A warm body behind her gave her something to lean against. A cool object was pressed to her lips and she tilted her head back as water slipped into her mouth.

“Spit it out,” ordered a new voice.

Reluctantly, she did so. It seemed a shame to waste perfectly fine water.

“This time, swish it around and rinse out your mouth.” It seemed like a good idea. She didn’t want the bitterness of blood to ruin the water’s freshness. She spat out the third sip as well, and the coughing started again.

“It’ll get better. You can swallow this time.”

She lapped greedily as the water bottle touched her lips, demanding more. It was pulled away far too soon. She whined in disappointment.

“A little at a time.”

The swallow was bigger this time. She tried to open her eyes but they were glued shut. Like a tired child, she raised her fists to rub them. Someone grabbed her arms to stop her and she groaned.

“Let me wash your face first. We need to see what the damage is and don’t want to injure your eyes.” Another new voice. How many people were there?

While wet fabric stroked her face, she listened. She counted the breathing of four people close to her, but quiet murmurs told her there were many more nearby. A soft buzz in her head was either the beginning of a massive headache or a sign of many unheard conversations going on.

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And a Giveaway! In celebration of the release of Wolves’ Gambit, one or more lucky people will win an e-book version of Wolves’ Pawn, the first book of the series. You can enter here:


About the Author

Born and raised among the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, P.J. MacLayne still finds inspiration for her books in that landscape. She is a computer geek by day and a writer by night who currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When she’s not in front of a computer screen, she might be found exploring the back roads of the nearby national forests and parks. In addition to the Free Wolves’ stories, she is also the author of the Oak Grove series.

P.J. MacLayne can be reached on: 
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Susanna Rogers: YA Books That Kick Butt
Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Becoming a kickboxer with a second-degree black belt helped Susanna Rogers improve not only her martial arts skills, but also her writing skills so she can write the kick butt heroines she loves. Her first YA novel, Infiltration, is about an elite soldier from the future who travels back in time to stop a virus taking over the world. However on another level, the story is about a girl who finds first love, discovers everyone has been lying to her and then has to make her way in the world. It does sound a bit like Buffy meets The Terminator but just remember – anything Arnie can do, a girl can do better! As part of her research, Susanna visited Arnold Schwarzenegger’s birthplace in Austria (see the fabulous photo above), watched many episodes of Buffy and trained in kickboxing for many years.


2120: A world ravaged by a devastating virus. Those healthy enough to live in New Nation lead a sanitized, orderly life where everything is tightly guarded by a brutal government. Lives, thoughts, information and emotions are all strictly controlled. Now: Seventeen-year-old elite soldier Nicola Gray is sent back in time for an important assignment. She alone will stop the virus before it takes over the world – her mission, to gather intelligence, find the cause and stop the threat, whatever it takes. She is trained to kill. But the past is not what Nicola is expecting. Overwhelmed by an alien world, she discovers feelings she can’t handle and a world with immense personal freedom and people who care for each other. She wants to stay. She wants to live. She wants a lot of things she can’t have…

Get your copy here!

Places you can find Susanna:
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