PreOrder now to secure YOUR copy of this limited edition Sci-Fi Romance and Paranormal Romance collection!

 

OTHER WORLDS BOXED SET
Paranormal & Sci-Fi Romance


Blurb:

Journey into a multiverse beyond the boundaries of your imagination…


21 award-winning and best-selling authors bring you the best of PARANORMAL and SCI-FI ROMANCE in this enticing boxed set of exclusive epic adventures.


Rogue spaceship captains, dark vampire lords, supernatural hunters, crafty hackers, uncompromising alien alphas, fearless shifters, and MORE await in this highly sought-after collection including BRAND NEW romantic, otherworldly tales!


Step into OTHER WORLDS as these fresh voices of SFR and PNR take you on a journey to immortal realms and extra-terrestrial territories where your imagination takes flight and fantasies come to life.


PreOrder now to secure YOUR copy of this limited edition Sci-Fi Romance and Paranormal Romance collection!



INCLUDING STORIES FROM…
Allyson Lindt
Award-Winning author A.D. Trosper
Cheri Schmidt and Tristan Hunt
Akaria Gale
Award-Winning author R. A. Steffan
Jennifer Rose McMahon
Award-Winning author Amy L Gale
Shawnee Small
K. R. Fajardo
Award-Winning author Lea Kirk
Mychal Daniels
Laura Hysell
Shawna Romkey
Elizabeth Ryder
E.A. Weston
Award-Winning author Lindsay Avalon
LaVerne Thompson
Starla Night
Jayne Fury
Isadora Brown



Available for Pre-Order at these retailers:
Barnes & Noble http://ow.ly/AS4D30dEOSN



Join the Other Worlds Release Party on Facebook!


Be the first to get a sneak peak at With the First Goodbye by Len Webster! It’s releasing September 27.

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Be the first to get a sneak peak at With the First Goodbye by Len Webster!
It’s releasing September 27.

EXCLUSIVE iBooks pre-order → http://apple.co/2vbTu12
Goodreads → http://bit.ly/2vDNCdq

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The woman who sat in front of him had been everything at one time. Until the real Sarah
Collins unveiled herself. A manipulative bitch. A woman willing to take a secret to her grave. A person who would go to extreme lengths to ruin lives. She had been the woman Max had loved.

All the things he had been oblivious to since he had met her were now clear. She wasn’t the kind-hearted girl he had helped when he was eight. The one who sat on her doorstep crying as her parents fought. He saw the sad girl. He knew how nice she was underneath it all, but everyone else hadn’t. Everyone saw the true Sarah while Max had been in denial.

For as long as Max had known Sarah, she had never been much of a crier. The first time had been when they were eight. But then he saw her shed tears when the truth of her ways came to light. She had told Clara a lie that broke her and Noel apart. Max had ended it with her when he discovered what a blackened heart she had. That was when she had cried. It took seventeen years until he saw those tears of hers again. She had never shown an inch of emotion and never given much in the companionship department. Max had never been an option for her. Instead, his best friend, Alex Lawrence, had. She had chosen the star footballer and the brains. The same man who went to Stanford while Max stayed in Melbourne.

“I wish I had never done it, Max. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t keep feeling this pain. I don’t want to be without you,” she sobbed.

He knew she meant it. Sarah had never shown more than her bitchy side. Max had thought it was a portrayal—something to hide behind. A defence mechanism. But he had
learnt the hard way that it wasn’t a façade. It was real. It was her. All of her.

A heartless bitch.

Max stood from the dining chair where he sat. She had called him in the middle of a client meeting mumbling and threatening self-harm if he did not see her immediately. The love he thought he felt had him excusing himself and driving across the city to her Docklands apartment. The love he thought she felt for him had him at her door. What he had expected was a remorseful woman, not a soulless and sinister woman in lingerie.

It was an act.

One he fell for.

She was quite the actress.

That and his love for her had made him a blind man.

Love made him a terrible person.

And love made him betray his best friends.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00014]

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About Len Webster:

Len Webster is a romance-loving Melburnian with dreams of finding her version of ‘The One.’ But until that moment happens, she writes. Having just graduated with her BBusCom from Monash University, Len is now busy writing her next romance about how a boy met a girl, and how they fell completely and hopelessly in love.

She is also not a certified explorer, but she’s working on it.

Find Len online!
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/len-webster

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lennwebster
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/lennwebster
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lennwebster
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennwebster
Website: https://www.lenwebster.com

Racer, an all-new standalone in the Real Series from New York Times bestselling author Katy Evans is coming September 28th!!!

RACER September 20th teaser [100309]

Racer, an all-new standalone in the Real Series from New York Times bestselling author Katy Evans is coming September 28th!!!

A bad boy with something to prove.
A woman with a mission.
The race of their lives.
The love of a lifetime.

I don’t think his parents expected him to live up to his name—Racer Tate—but once he felt the adrenaline rush behind the wheel, he was addicted.

He’s the fastest, fiercest driver around.

Scouting new talent brings me to his doorstep…
but his smile sends me to my knees.

The sexy, mysterious Racer Tate is not the kind of man a girl like me falls for. He’s secretive, reckless, elusive. But his proximity pushes me beyond reason, and his kiss….

This is our last chance to win, and he is our only hope. I’m supposed to watch him—make sure he doesn’t get into trouble. But it’s an impossible task. And now the one in heart wrenching, toe-curling, soul-crushing trouble is me. Because when your heart belongs to someone, their truths become your own, and their secrets become your salvation…or your curse.

He says he wants me. He says I’m the One. But he also thinks he’ll break my heart, one piece at a time until it’s gone.

Preorder Today!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2vdmnsx
Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/u6Afj4
iBooks: https://goo.gl/s1EHS7
Nook: https://goo.gl/zoTe8X
Kobo: https://goo.gl/WgX9oJ
Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/JFvQ6D

GRIP, Kennedy Ryan’s sexy, emotional Amazon Bestseller, is available now for only 99¢! Preorder STILL Today!

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“…one of the most engaging and well-written romance books I have read…It’s like nothing you’ve read before. It touches the issues no one talks about in our community. And it’s a MUST-READ.”

–LJ Shen, Amazon Bestselling Author

GRIP, Kennedy Ryan’s sexy, emotional Amazon Bestseller,

is available now for only 99¢!

Scroll all the way down for an excerpt and to enter the

$25 Gift Card Giveaway!

GRIP COVER SALE

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out. I know. I’ve been doing it for years.

I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary. And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.

Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key. All that’s left is friendship and work.

He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true. I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.

It’s wild, reckless, disobedient. And it remembers all the things I want to forget.

Read GRIP today for only 99¢ or FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US ➜ http://amzn.to/2gsx1mB

Amazon UK ➜ http://amzn.to/2gz387W

Amazon CA ➜ http://amzn.to/2vADPJn

Amazon AU ➜ http://amzn.to/2gsH3Em

Add to GoodReads ➜ http://bit.ly/2k1T1rL

FLOW, the FREE prequel, MUST BE READ before GRIP!

Amazon ➜ http://amzn.to/2lAhSSC

Amazon UK➜ http://amzn.to/2xSpMMS

WATTPAD ➜ http://w.tt/2kUo8Yk

STILL, the sexy and emotional final installment of The Grip Series,

releases September 24th!

Preorder STILL Today!

Amazon ➜ http://amzn.to/2jAkJNT

Amazon UK ➜ http://amzn.to/2f4kxSa

Amazon CA ➜ http://amzn.to/2wmWoRR

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Add STILL to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2vBiUWN

GRIP SERIES REMIX SALE

Click here to enter the $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Excerpt

“Neither of us has been in a serious relationship in years.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.” I stand and slide my feet into the Jimmy Choos. “You haven’t exactly been waiting around, have you?”

“Damn right I haven’t been waiting around.” He doesn’t get up, but his firm hold on my wrist stops me from walking away. “I’m not Rhyson.”

I look down at him, frowning my confusion.

“What do you mean?”

“Remember when Kai put Rhyson in the friend zone?”
Of course I do. For a long time, my sister-in-law Kai denied the attraction between her and Rhyson.

“Yeah, so?”

“When Kai wasn’t checking for Rhys, I assumed he had to be sleeping with other girls.” Grip shrugs. “I mean, he and Kai were just friends. But, nope. He said he only wanted Kai and didn’t sleep with anyone else.”

“Then you’re right.” I tug at my wrist, but he holds on tight. “You’re definitely not Rhyson.”

“It was months, Bristol. She shut him out for months. Not years.”

“I’m not shutting you out.” I release a tired breath. “I’m living my life, and you’re living yours.”

“Right.” He nods and turns his mouth down at the corners. “So, if you won’t be with me, then I’ll fuck whoever the hell I want. If you have a problem with that, you know what to do about it.”

For a moment, our eyes tangle in the dimness. His words sink into my flesh like briars. Every word out of his mouth only proves that I’m right to get out of here. That I’m right not to give in. If I ever gave him a chance and he fucked around on me . . . I’ve seen what that looks like. It looks like a woman as strong as my mother reduced to pathetic, teary drunkenness.

“It’s none of my business.” I shift my eyes away from him and to the glittering city skyline just beyond the rooftop.

“It’s none of your business until you say it is.”

I force myself to look back.

“Don’t hold your breath, Grip.” I say my next words with deliberation. “I mean, it’s not like I’m sitting around saving it, either.”

He pulls me forward, and I press my hand to the hardness of his chest so I don’t fall into him. My knee supports me, pressed against his on the couch.

“Are you poking me?” One strong hand wraps around the back of my thigh, anger marking his expression. “Do you want to know if it bothers me when you fuck other guys?”

I just stare at him unblinkingly. He presses my leg, urging me forward until I’m fully on the couch, fully on him, one knee on either side of his legs, facing him. Straddling him.

“It makes me want to set the world on fire.” His words come softly, but the truth roars in his eyes. “To think of you with them.”

Find the GRIP Series On Audio!

FLOW ➜ http://bit.ly/FLOWAudiobook

GRIP ➜ http://bit.ly/GRIPAudiobook

Join the GRIP Discussion Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1891983067712410/

Image-1.jpg

Click here to enter the $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Kennedy Ryan

About the Author:

Kennedy Ryan is a Southern girl gone Southern California. A Top 100 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy writes romance about remarkable women who find a way to thrive even in tough times, the love they find, and the men who cherish them.

She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Georgia families living with Autism, Kennedy has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other outlets as a voice for families living with autism.

Connect with Kennedy:

Order Signed GRIP Series Paperbacks:

http://kennedyryanwrites.com/signed-paperbacks/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KennedyRyanAuthor/

Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/681604768593989/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kennedyryan1/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kennedy-ryan

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/kennedyrwrites

YouTube: http://bit.ly/2gsAGkp

Website: http://kennedyryanwrites.com

Lunar Shadows ( The Guardians Series Book 2 ) by USA Today Bestselling Author T.F Walsh

Title: Lunar Shadows

Series: The Guardians Series Book 2

Author: TF Walsh

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: September 19, 2017

 

A powerful seer. A fight to stay alive. A soulmate to protect.

 


Zana believes she can stop death. After all, why else would she receive prophetic dreams? Now she just has to actually save someone. But nothing prepares her for the Lunar Festival’s events; a tragic death, her vile ex acting all cave-man on her, and the sudden appearance of Shadow, a hunky and arrogant Guardian from the kingdom. Except, she’s done with men after what her last one did to her. But when her latest vision shows Shadow’s demise, she is determined to prove her gift is a blessing not curse.

Shadow is visiting his uncle for a small vacation. When he stumbles across a murdered family member, eliminating the threat is a must. Bumping into Zana at the crime scene, a beautiful vixen, smart and stubborn, has him questioning her involvement. But when she declares he’s in danger and will protect him, he’s not sure if he should be flattered or insulted. 
As they close in on the killer, Shadow starts to believe the real danger might be losing Zana and the grip she has on his heart. Will Zana and Shadow survive a danger beyond their imagination? 

This is a standalone, steamy paranormal romance with a HEA.

Shadow’s hands shook as he clenched the goblin’s shoulders and pinned her to the wall. He glanced at the knife she’d dropped at his feet. Not a speck of blood stained the weapon. Or had she wiped it before he’d arrived? The girl didn’t behave like a killer. He’d encountered enough in his lifetime to recognize one. But why had she been crouching over Klurt with a blade? Evil did come in all guises.

“I’ll ask only one more time,” he demanded, his voice climbing. “Did you murder my uncle?”

Her eyes were watery pools, and the healed scratch from brow to cheek told him she’d seen her share of fights. When she spoke, she growled. “Get off me. I found him like this. I work at the markets.”

Shadow loosened his hold, and she pulled free, dropping to her feet. She reached his chin in height.

“Who are you?” he asked, blocking her way out of the office in case she bolted. 

His gaze swept to his uncle. The goblin who had given him, an orphan, a roof as a child, fed him—had offered Shadow hope. The image in front of him undid him completely. Klurt had taken in every stray goblin, taught them respect and discipline, pushed them to get an education. Someone with a heart as huge as Klurt’s should have never met such a vile ending.

Numbness threaded through Shadow, though, in his mind, he shoved away the emotions, the pain, just as he’d been trained to do in the queen’s army. Feelings made him weak, and that moment was about him taking charge.

The female in front of him with amber locks leaned over and picked up her blade. He backed up in case she swung the weapon.

“See? It’s clean.” Her voice held more power than her small frame would suggest. “I was chasing the killer, but he escaped.”

Okay. She wasn’t going to attack, though it was no real surprise she had a knife. With no law existing in Tapestry, everyone did what he or she had to. Sivath, the goblin chief, had been setting up an enforcement group to aid goblins, but that was four years ago. Maybe things had changed since Shadow was home last.

“What’s your name?” he demanded.

“Zana.” She tucked the blade into her boot.

The girl had a strong, angular face with golden irises and ruby lips. No blood on her clothes. But a trail of crimson splattered across the vinyl flooring in front of Klurt. Shadow studied Zana’s boots. Pristine. Blood stained her cheek as if she’d wiped it with the back of her hand, yet her natural beauty intrigued him—urged him to lower his guard—which was ridiculous. If it weren’t for her long ears, she’d pass for a human, and he didn’t recall there being a half-blood in town when he was last in Pryvale.

“You’re a half-goblin,” he stated.

She ignored him and knelt near Klurt again. Her body curled forward, and the softness of her cries tightened his chest.

What the shit was going on? The macabre scene wasn’t sinking in, yet the metallic smell clawed at his nostrils. It wasn’t the homecoming he’d expected. Weeks ago, he’d sent Klurt a message saying he was visiting for a few days, and, ever since, he’d been picturing the embraces, the laughter, and the food. He still had Klurt’s house key, so he had left his gifts there, found the Wart Markets location pinned to the pantry door, and then came to see his uncle at his work. Now the plans to create new memories and see Klurt chuckle again were stolen.

It was Shadow’s mistake; he should have gone to the office first, but none of that mattered. Only tracking down the culprit and making them pay mattered.

 

T.F. Walsh emigrated from Romania to Australia at the age of eight and now lives in a regional city south of Sydney with her husband. Growing up hearing dark Fairytales, she’s always had a passion for reading and writing horror, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and young adult stories. She balances all the dark with light fluffy stuff like baking and traveling.
 
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A peek at New Series Coming in December: KING’S FANCY ( The Wild West Book 1 ) by Bestselling Author SABLE HUNTER!!

Kingston Ramsey gets more than he bargained for with Fancy Grace. She’s quite a handful. Don’t miss out on their epic love story.

Hotter than Hell Yeah! Sable Hunter’s Wild West is a series where cowboys are king, yet their women can bring them to their knees. Full of adventure and heart-tugging emotion, these books have enough sensual heat to start a Texas wildfire. Holding out for a hero? Look no further, meet seven men you’ll never forget: King, Boone, Clay, Gentry, Domino, Jericho, Reno, and Joss.

 

Kings Fancy SH bc

 

 PREORDER LINK:http://amzn.to/2ybaoLR

BOOK ONE – KING’S FANCY

Kingston Ramsay needs a good woman, even if he doesn’t know it yet.
Building a life in the wild west can get mighty lonely for a man who has vowed to never fall in love again.
Lonely days. Lonely nights. Lonely bed.
Lucky for him, he has friends who are determined to help him out. While King agrees to hire a housekeeper, his compadres decide he deserves more – a beautiful wife, ready and able to fill those lonely hours with all the excitement he can handle.
Not telling King about his surprise…might have been a mistake, for when Fancy arrives, she isn’t exactly what they bargained for when they arranged for a mail-order bride for their friend.
Half-starved and homeless, Fancy Grace is ecstatic for a chance at a family of her own. In her estimation, Kingston Ramsay, the man who has chosen her, is the epitome of perfection. She can’t believe her good fortune and is determined to make him the happiest of men…until she learns the truth.
Kingston didn’t choose her, he thinks she is there to make his bed, not warm it.
Determined to make the best of her bad situation, Fancy sets out to prove she can be exactly what King needs. She might not be a beauty, but she has plenty to offer the right man. Sparks fly in this battle of the sexes when these two strong-willed individuals clash. King is forced to reevaluate his definition of perfect when he learns a valuable truth – sometimes true beauty can only be discerned when looking through the eyes of love.

Jesse Ward is back in the newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling This Man series, PREORDER NOW!!

WITH THIS MAN WTM-PRomo1 (1)[99118]

Preorder Today:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2h14rJi
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2jl338V
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2w5iCYo
iBooks: https://goo.gl/4mAHtB
Kobo: http://bit.ly/WTM-Kobo-US
Nook: http://bit.ly/WTM-Nook
Google: http://bit.ly/WTM-Google

 

WITH THIS MAN[99117]

Blurb:
Jesse Ward is back in the newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling This Man series!

Life is good for Jesse “The Lord” Ward. Perfect, actually. He still has the charm, he’s in great shape, and he still reduces his wife, Ava, to a pool of desire with a mere look. He’s in full control, just how he likes it.

But Jesse’s perfect world falls apart when a terrible accident lands Ava in the hospital with a life-threatening head injury. Devastated and angry, he feels like his entire existence hangs in the balance. He cannot survive without this woman’s love. So when she finally comes around, his shaking world begins to level out. But his nightmare doesn’t end there. It’s only just begun. Because his wife can’t remember the last sixteen years of her life. That’s all of him. All of their time together. He is a stranger to her.

Now Jesse must do whatever it takes to find her memories . . . and help her fall madly, passionately in love with him all over again.

 

Make Me Yours by Vanessa Vale is coming soon on September 19th !! So Pre-Order Now!!

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When two hot cowboys make her theirs, is it for fifteen minutes of fame or because they want forever?
Make Me Yours by Vanessa Vale is coming soon on September 19th!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2xrJ7nE
Apple: https://goo.gl/aPtdd5
Nook: https://goo.gl/GwHGoM
Kobo: https://goo.gl/dS589E
Google: https://goo.gl/JvmaQ8

 

Lacey has fame and fortune. That’s everything she’s ever wanted. Right?

When she becomes tabloid fodder, she’s had enough. Escaping to a guest ranch in Bridgewater is the perfect place to hide. But when two hot cowboys make her theirs, is it for fifteen minutes of fame or because they want forever?

Warning: Panty melting! Make Me Yours is a wildly dirty romance with a movie star heroine who wants to hide herself from the world and two obsessed alpha cowboys who’ve found her. Claimed her. Made her theirs. This HEA is all about her – no m/m.

Check out the incredible cover for Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson & Alex Grayson! Dark romance fans rejoice! The 99¢ PRE-ORDER IS LIVE!!!

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Check out the incredible cover for Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson & Alex Grayson!
This twisted tale releases September 15!

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Dark romance fans rejoice! The 99¢ PRE-ORDER IS LIVE!!!
Don’t miss out. This one will be $3.99 on release day!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2gTOIPP
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2faqDAG
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2wRHjoe
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2faLQKJ

ADD TO YOUR TBR NOW: http://bit.ly/2utq2Aq

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BLURB:

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

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About A.M. and Alex:
Avid readers and writers of suspenseful romances, both A.M. and Alex enjoy torturing their readers with twisted tales and crazy dark scenarios.

Find A.M. Online:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2g6LuIJ

BookBub: http://bit.ly/2vorgvI
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2wE8uES
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2wnERI8
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2w3dqRk
Website: https://amwilson.net

Find Alex Online:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2tQYRC8

BookBub: http://bit.ly/2upSbrK
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2qs61qF
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2rHxjxL
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2qXlMsZ
Website: http://www.alexgraysonbooks.com

Pre-Order Blitz: JUST OFF THE PATH by Weston Sullivan is Coming Soon!!

Fantasy
Date Published: September 5, 2017
 
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Hansel never asked to be a hero. He never wanted to fall in love with Rapunzel, Queen of the East. He didn’t ask to be raised by Gothel the Wretch, and he certainly never wanted to be credited for her arrest. But more than any of that, Hansel never wanted to lie: but he did. He lied about everything. He thought that he was done with it all when he and his sister Gretel retreated into the woods to reclaim their land, but he should have known better.
 
Years later, Rapunzel’s guards knock at his door, and they say the words he hoped that he would never hear: Gothel has escaped. As he and Gretel take refuge inside Rapunzel’s castle in the eastern capitol of Hildebrand, Hansel is thrust back into everything he never wanted in the first place: his lies, his legend, and his lust. In the wake of it all, he knows that Gothel has escaped to finish what she started. She is out to make sure that the Sleeping Beauty never wakes, and that Grimm suffocates under her blanket of thorn and vine. In order to find Gothel and save the kingdom, Hansel and Gretel must look for fact in a land of fairy-tale by following a trail of grisly murders, a girl in a red cape, and a powerful little man who can’t stand the sound of his own name.
 
As they search for answers, Hansel finds that he isn’t the only liar in Grimm, and that there may be a traitor among them of royal proportion.
 
Reading Addiction Blog Tours

EXCERPT:

 
The winter storm began with a scream that split the trees. It echoed throughout the woods and birds fled into the sky, disappearing like smoke behind gray clouds. Hansel looked off in the direction of the disturbance—but it was silent again. There was something menacing about the renewed absence of life that hung over him. He strung his bow, keeping it close to his side, and surveyed the area around him. He was met only with the familiar stillness of the trees and dead foliage beneath.
“We should go,” he said, trying to disguise the urgency in his voice.
His sister, Gretel, hesitated. “Someone screamed.”
“I know,” he said. “That’s why we need to go.”
Gretel scanned the tree line and ran her fingers through her hair. Grabbing her hand, Hansel pulled her in the direction they’d come from. The woods were dangerous, especially on the cusp of winter. They were close to the Southern Thickets—the part of the forest overrun with briar and weed, where all of Grimm’s most dangerous creatures lived—and Hansel knew that if someone was screaming, they had a good reason.
They made their way back to The Path in silence. Hansel was wary of crunching leaves under his boot, afraid to wake the forest. Seconds after they turned around, he felt something whiz past him on both sides of his head. He hoped they were fireflies, bustling about the tops of trees, cutting through the coldness that crept over them. He followed the sparkling speckles with his eyes. They moved with purpose, cracking branches and creasing clouds, spinning wildly. Hansel was probably the only person in Grimm who was ever disappointed to see a flock of fairies, but fireflies meant it was summer, and he longed to see summer again.
Before they blinked out of sight, they spoke to him. Tens of wistful, unison whispers in his ears said: Help…the girl needs help. Hansel looked at Gretel, wondering if she heard them, too. He didn’t have to ask. She bounded back in the opposite direction and drew the skinning knife she kept sheathed at her waist. Hansel cursed, taking off after her. No sooner than he’d kicked off the ground, another mortifying scream shook the woods. He followed close behind Gretel, dodging trees and leaping over the underbrush. There was a third scream, and then a fourth; louder and closer than any before.
He didn’t know what to do. As they ran, the woods shrank around them until the sun no longer broke through the gaps between the trees. Hansel knew they were going to die. No one made it deep into the thickets and lived. It was home to godless monsters; giants, goblins—the creatures of the dark who scarcely bothered with humans, until they were crossed. Hansel struggled to keep up with his sister. Where he was cautious, she was fearless, and where she was cautious, he was safest. He looked up and was surprised to see hundreds of fairies lighting their path. Each second, more poured in from the sky until there was an army over them.
Gretel stopped abruptly, causing Hansel to trip and roll a few steps downhill. He didn’t think long enough to register pain. As he found his footing, Gretel climbed down the incline and stood beside him. His first instinct was to go back the way they’d come, but he was awestruck. They stood on the threshold of life and death, where the woods became the Southern Thickets. It was like a scar across the ground, stretching from one end of the world to the next, a final warning to those brave enough to pass into the curse. Even the fairies were still, their glow dimmed by the wicked magic ahead.
Hansel was relieved to see that there were no longer trees; they’d been replaced by a wall of bramble, too large and thick to allow passage. They were surrounded by the purplish-blue tint of twilight, thorns as sharp as daggers to their throats in front of them and crooked, mossy trees behind them. Once, when Hansel lived in the city, he’d visited his parents’ corpses in the graveyard. They were buried in a public sepulcher maintained by the city to ensure that if a family was unwilling or unable to buy a plot for their deceased, their corpses wouldn’t be left to rot and attract the attention of wildlife. Standing just before the thickets reminded Hansel of that day—the day when he stood at the maw of death and was so close he could feel himself slipping away.
Gretel looked behind them. Hansel hoped she’d given up, and maybe she had. He almost smiled. But one final, thankless cry echoed past the briar, stirring the fairies. Gretel squinted, determined. That scream, Hansel knew, was the epitaph on their gravestones. The fairies swarmed them, and he was swallowed in a rainbow of color, cascading like a waterfall upon him. He couldn’t see anything but the swirling light of the fairy flock, spinning faster and faster around him, tugging at his shirt and creating a whirlwind. He felt weightless. His stomach churned and he felt dizzy. When the fairies cleared, he could see why—he was high in the air, flying over the Southern Thickets.
For a moment, he forgot about the screams and that he was headed into danger. He was soaring. Gretel was flying just below him, her arms spread wide, her hair flailing. Seeing Grimm from the air was both breathtaking and appalling. He expected to see the land as it once was, alive and vibrant. Instead, it was a sickly beige with winter and the end of the curse. The world around them was devoid of life. Most of the animals had fled years earlier, knowing the world was about to change, and those that remained were tucked safely away somewhere beneath them.
The thickets looked exactly as he’d always imagined. From above, he saw nothing but briar and bramble etched across the uneven terrain. They gained speed, and the cold air blasted his cheeks. He was grateful to have the cold in that moment to waken his senses and remind him that he was still alive, that he and Gretel were in danger. He sucked in a breath as they flew farther away from home, and against the still-setting sun that formed the silhouette of a castle, jagged and broken. The Sleeping Castle—he knew it from legend—the home where the rightful royalty of Grimm still rested, dead to the world but not in definition, suffering eternally at the hands of a vengeful witch. All he could make out was one tower, freed from the clutches of the thorn like the arm of an old beggar, trying to hoist himself out of the darkness. The top of the tower stuck at a point against the sunlight like a bony finger fighting for liberation.
It felt like they were flying only moments before he felt himself descending. Hansel looked below. There was a tiny clearing in the briar—a hole in the patchwork—and inside that hole he saw a spot of red. His eyes widened when he realized what was happening; it was a little girl, and she was running for her life. Sooner than he anticipated, the fairies dropped him and he fell into the clearing. They placed Gretel gracefully on the ground next to him and charged back up into the sky in one harmonious motion, disappearing into the briar. The girl stared at them in wonder, Hansel standing close to Gretel. It was suddenly dark, and Hansel knew it was because they were in a place so sinister that even the sunlight refused to pass through. The girl Hansel had seen from the sky was covered in bloody scratches, as if she’d been running through the thorns. Her face was dirty and streaked in muddy tears. She tried to speak to them, but she was silenced by the rustling of the vines behind her.
She yelped, running to them for help. Gretel took her in her arms and cupped her hand over her mouth, quieting her. Hansel trembled, pulling the bowstring back so far he worried it would snap. The figure of a large man appeared on the other side of the curtain of briar, causing the girl to cry harder. He made his best attempt to look imposing, but he was frightened. The man stepped into the clearing, dressed all in black, his hood casting a shadow over his face so that all Hansel could see was a pair of dull, white eyes. At first, Hansel thought the red-orange coating on the figure’s machete was rust, but as the man moved closer, he recognized it as the color of dried blood.
“Who are you?” Hansel asked.
It was like standing in front of death itself—silent, ominous, and terrifying.
Hansel stood rigid, his arrow pointed at the man’s chest. He hated the idea of killing someone, but he knew that his bow would take action before his head did if it was given the opportunity. The man’s chest rose, fell, but didn’t rise again. That was when Hansel knew it was time to let go of the string. It was too late. The hooded figure leaped out of the way just before the arrow left the bow, and as Hansel went to re-string it, he disappeared back into the thickets. Hansel stretched his bow into a V and focused his aim, in case the man returned.
Gretel helped the girl to her feet. “Are you all right?”
She wore a bright cloak that canvassed her body like a suit of armor, bright yet all-concealing. Hansel didn’t know what to make of her. She embodied adolescence, but exuded effortless maturity as if at war with herself. Wine and wildflowers protruded from her basket, peeking surreptitiously back at him. She was a walking contradiction, and that made him anxious.
“I think so,” the girl replied, using her cloak, which was made of some sort of fabric that Hansel couldn’t name but knew was expensive, to wipe her face. “Thank you for saving me.”
“Who was that man?” Hansel asked.
The girl hesitated. She stepped beside Hansel and followed his gaze out into the thickets.
“He was no man,” she said. “He was a wolf.”
“A wolf?” Hansel asked.
She nodded. “He walks like a man, but he’s a wolf, I swear to it. He tackled me back there and started sniffing me and snarling like a beast. His breath smells like dung and whiskey. It frightened me, so I ran off.”
Hansel and Gretel exchanged looks. Gretel furrowed her brows, dumbstruck.
“But why did he come after you?” Gretel asked.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Hansel asked. “How do you not know? Do you find you’re often being chased by hooded man-wolves, or is today a special day?”
The girl seemed put off by the question. “Do you normally fly with the fairies?”
“Of course not,” Hansel said.
“So today must be special for all of us,” she said, slyly.
Gretel broke the tension. “What’s your name?”
“My name’s Ceara,” the girl replied with a smile that soured Hansel’s mood. She spoke to no one in particular. “But some people call me Little Red Cap because of my cape. It’s made of the finest silk in the East.” She offered the tail of her cape to them.
Gretel reached her hand out and felt the fabric, rubbing it between her fingers. “It’s lovely,” she mumbled.
“My gran made it for me when I was younger. I was always running about in the woods and she worried I would get lost. That’s why the cape is red…I’m easier to spot that way.”
Hansel dropped the bow to his side. It just so happened that he and Gretel knew quite a bit about being lost in the woods.
“Do you know how to get back to The Path from here?” he asked Ceara.
The Path was the clearest, safest route through the woods. It was a trail worn in the grass by the boots of travelers and kings alike; a clear, oppressive force that divided Grimm into four regions. The Path was the safest, most direct route to any place in the entire kingdom.
Ceara’s smile faded. She wiped the tears from her face, using her cloak to remove the dirt from her cheeks. “Of course I do,” she said, gesturing toward the vines. “It’s just a few steps this way.”
“You mean through the thorns?” Hansel asked.
She rolled her eyes. “Unless you plan on asking the fairies for another lift, there’s really no other way.”
“I thought it was impossible to pass through the thickets.” As he spoke, he stared at the thorns. He imagined slicing his leg open, or accidentally impaling himself. He squirmed.
Ceara giggled at him. “Just because the whole kingdom says it’s impossible, doesn’t mean it is.”
Gretel laughed at him as well, shrugging as she passed him. Ceara parted the vines carefully and let Gretel pass through. After Gretel disappeared into the thickets, Ceara held the vines apart for him. “Go on.”
Right then, Hansel knew he wasn’t going to like Ceara.


About the Author


Weston Sullivan lives and writes in Tampa, Florida. He spends his days splitting time between writing, a full time job, and studying for his degree in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida. He enjoys everything related to storytelling, including film and theater. He likes to read all genres, from contemporary fiction to classic favorites such as Faulkner and Woolf. After he finishes his undergraduate coursework and continues to build his career as an author, he plans to attend graduate school in New York City.
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