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Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

It was tough to pick the best books I've read in 2012 so I chose 10. This includes some books that were released in previous years, but I read in 2012.


Beautiful Disaster - Jamie McGuire
Rogue Rider - Larissa Ione
Blackbirds - Chuck Wendig
Once Burned - Jeaniene Frost
Night Seeker - Yasmine Galenorn
A Trace of Moonlight - Allison Pang
Silver-Tongued Devil - Jaye Wells
Eternal Rider - Larissa Ione
My Life As a White Trash Zombie - Diana Rowland
Temptress - Lola Dodge

What books made your list?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bought, Borrowed and Bagged [8]


BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, hosted by TalkSupe, where you can share the books that you have bought, borrowed or bagged (won) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and any news you want to share with your followers.

I went kind of crazy the last few weeks with freebies but haven't posted. Here are all (at least I hope all) of the ones I grabbed.


Bought
Freebies on Amazon
One Dangerous Night - Lisa Renee Jones
Red Run - Rob Cornell
Hex and the Single Witch - Roxanne Rhoads
Love Me - Bella Andre
Stranger Delight - Tabitha Levin
Meandros - Sasha White
Wild Card - Moira Rogers
Darkness Awakened - Stephanie Rowe

Free from Carina Press
Dangerous Race - Dee J. Adams

Free from Audible

Free on Smashwords

Upcoming Reviews:
Alpha Exposed - Anya Breton
True Love at Silver Creek Ranch - Emma Cane
Wicked As They Come - Delilah S. Dawson
The Guardian and the Dream Crawler - S. L. Lewis

Last Week's Reviews:
Automaton - Cheryl Davies


Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Automaton

Title: Automaton
Author: C.L. Davies
Connect: Blog, Website
Buy Links: Amazon, Kindle, B&N
Photobucket

Automaton is a futuristic book where everyday people escape by watching/playing a game. GameWorld has AI (artificial intelligence aka robot) players that think they are humans living their normal life. They have no clue that people control them, or even that they are not really human beings. Most people allow their characters to have free will, but they are able to override that by typing in commands which are relayed via a sleep mask while the AI people "sleep". The idea behind the book is kind of scary considering this could easily happen in the future with the way technology is going.

Automaton revolves around several different people, both in real life and in GameWorld. Lily and Dean are the AI characters in GameWorld. They are what seems to be a young couple in love.

Dean's controller, Luke, normally doesn't interfere with his character's life. Slightly bored one day and wanting to mix things up, Luke tells Dean to have an affair. Unable to control his actions, Dean does as he is told but doesn't understand why he cannot change his path.

Lily's controller, Amelia has had her character since she was a little girl. Amelia is very attached to Lily and thinks of her as a sister. Horrified by Dean's affair, Amelia looks for information on Dean's controller to exact her revenge. She manages to snag a date with Luke and I wasn't sure if she would fall in love or get her revenge.

Automaton is a quick read that kept my interest from page one. The plot is well thought out and left me guessing on what might happen next. Automaton reminded me slightly of a mash up of the TV show Caprica, and the video game The Sims. I cannot wait to read another book by C.L. Davies.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lightning Book Tour - Giveaway

Title: Lightning
Series: 1Night Stand
Author: Taryn Kincaid
Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Ebook
Pages: 41

Book Trailer

Purchase:
Decadent Publishing | Amazon | B&N | All Romance

Book Description: 
In mystic Sleepy Hollow, succubus Lily Night put her prom date, Campbell Jones, into a coma after a night of wild, unbridled sex. She has steered clear of mortals ever since, afraid of damaging them or worse, not to mention the inconvenience of knocking out the power every time they have sex.

Successful architect Campbell Jones has lived with strange powers and a sexy secret since that prom night. He’s buried himself in work to forget the woman who’d dumped him at the ER then vanished from his life without a trace.

Neither Lily nor Campbell have forgotten that night or the love they’d shared. Will a 1Night Stand help them bury their past?

Excerpt:

“A little higher and more to the left.”

Lily Night narrowed her eyes as the building maintenance man shifted her framed diploma on the freshly-painted wall opposite her desk. She tried not to ogle the firm ass encased in a pair of tight jeans or the way the man’s shoulder muscles rippled beneath his T-shirt.

Maybe if I pop an Altoid, I’ll have an excuse to wipe away the drool.

She refrained from jumping the handsome worker dude’s bones. The last time she’d dallied with a human, the encounter had not gone well. Vivid images of that long ago prom night bombarded her. Campbell Jones had been a young, strapping, hunk-and-a-half football player and they’d started their date full of hope and expectation and lust. When he’d adjusted the fragrant gardenia corsage on her wrist, she’d inhaled his crisp, citrus scent and thought she might swoon at the sight of him in his tux. The black material stretched across broad shoulders that mirrored the promise of the bruising man he’d be in his prime. But she’d all but sucked him dry as flashes of lightning crackled over their heads. By the time dawn painted the sky, she’d turned him into a mere shadow of his former self. Literally.
And briefly knocked out cell phone service in the lower Hudson Valley, as well.

She’d sworn off humans ever since. Instead, she pulled all-nighter after all-nighter to evade the dreams in which men called to her—and to avoid the university dating scene that inevitably led to frequent and addicting sex.

Mortals. Bleh.


About the Author:

Taryn Kincaid is a multi-published author of sensual romance. Her 1Night Stand series stories, LIGHTNING and THUNDER are available from Decadent Publishing and wherever eBooks are sold. Her Regency romance, HEALING HEARTS, for Carina Press; her  erotic paranormal, SLEEPY HOLLOW DREAMS, for The Wild Rose Press, are also available wherever eBooks are sold.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Amazon Author Page

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thrifty Thursday [8]


Thrifty Thursday is a post all about cheap or free ebooks.

Freebies
Waking Up Married - Mira Lyn Kelly
 Thoroughbreds and Trailer Trash - Bev Pettersen
 Alice in Wonderland - Elle Lothlorien No longer free
Summer Lovin' - Donna Cummings

$1.99
The Host - Stephenie Meyer

$2.99
New Pride - Laura Diamond

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

WoW 42 - Secretly Smitten

Title: Secretly Smitten
Author: Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt
Release Date: January 8th 2013

Summer, fall, winter, spring--Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!

There's a secret in Grandma Rose's attic--a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?

The mystery intrigues Rose's three granddaughters--Tess, Clare, and Zoe--and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?

Join popular romance novelists--and real-life BFFs--Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.

Why I am waiting:
I am "secretly" in love with these types of books. Novellas that intertwine and I get to read multiple authors? Sign me up!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Currently Reading [41]

Title: True Love at Silver Creek Ranch
Author: Emma Cane
Release Date: December 26th 2012

Welcome to Valentine Valley, where tongues are wagging now that the town bad boy is back—and rumor has it the lean, mean ex-Marine is about to lose his heart! But like it or not, in a town like Valentine, love happens . . .

Adam Desantis is back—bruised, battle-weary and sexier than ever! Not that Brooke Thalberg is in the market. The beautiful cowgirl of Silver Creek Ranch needs a cowboy for hire, not a boyfriend—though the gaggle of grandmas at the Widows' Boardinghouse thinks otherwise. But from the moment she finds herself in Adam's arms, she's shocked to discover she may just want more.

Adam knows it's crazy to tangle with Brooke, especially with the memories that still haunt him, and the warm welcome her family has given him. But he finds himself in a fix, because tender-loving Brooke is so much more woman than he ever imagined. Can a soldier battling demons give her the love she clearly deserves?

Just about everybody in Valentine thinks so!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Spotlight: Late: A Ghostly Tale - Louise West

Title: Late: a ghostly tale
Author: Louise West
Buy Links: Kindle | Kindle UK 
Connect: Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

Long after the children have escaped for home, a lone schoolteacher is working late. But is she really alone? Is someone there that she can't see? And what do they want?

A chilling ghost story to enjoy and share on dark, winter nights. Just make sure you're not the one who has to switch off the light...


Get this spooky story today as a freebie on Amazon!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thrifty Thursday [7]


Thrifty Thursday is a post all about cheap or free ebooks.

$0.99
Backstage Pass - Olivia Cunning

$1.99
Driving Mr. Dead - Molly Harper
My Bluegrass Baby - Molly Harper
A Fistful of Charms - Kim Harrison (Amazon | B&N)

$2.99
Disenchanted - C L Raven

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WoW 41 - All For You - Dana Bell

Title: All For You
Author: Dana Marie Bell
Release Date: December 24th 2012

He will keep her safe, no matter what it takes.

Someone—or something—is stalking Abby Marcheson. Luckily, she as her brother’s hunky friend Seth to keep her safe. Abby falls easily into her protected life, with Seth constantly by her side, and when he asks her out on a date, she’s eager to accept.

But Seth is much more than he seems. A Nephilim, a son of Angels with wings of his own, Seth is bound to spend his life hunting the Shemyaza, evil descendants of Angels. He’s kept his wings hidden from Abby in order not to frighten her, but as her stalker becomes bolder, Seth begins to suspect that a Shem has Abby in its sights…

As their flirtation escalates into full-blown passion, Seth is torn. Should he reveal his true nature to the beautiful, trusting Abby? Will she accept him, wings and all, or will Abby flee her guardian angel and fall prey to the sinister force that wishes her harm?


Why I am waiting:
I haven't read many Nephilim books but the ones I have gotten I've enjoyed. I adore all of the Carina Press books that I've read so far, so this one is going to be a must read!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesday [24]


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page 
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

This week’s teaser comes from “Alpha Exposed” by Anya Breton:


"It's missing 'all-I-can-eat Air witch'." Sam didn't stop the disgusted snort. "That has to be the worst line I've ever heard."

Page 91

Monday, December 17, 2012

Currently Reading [40]

Title: Alpha Exposed
Author: Anya Breton

When Samantha’s sister goes missing, all signs point to supernatural foul play. Her fellow Air witches won’t help, leaving her with one miserable choice—to beg for assistance from Dion Hebert, the odious weretiger Alpha she shot down months ago. In front of his pack. What’s a witch to do?

Dion can’t believe Samantha has the nerve to come begging after she humiliated him in front of half the supernatural Underground. He agrees to help in exchange for the one thing he’s always wanted—Samantha Avira. Naked. Wrapped around him in every delectable position he can imagine. But since the witch humiliated him publically, Dion wants the sex to be public too.

The thought of getting naked with Dion turns Samantha on, as much as she tries to deny it. The thought of getting naked with him in front of everyone leaves her part aroused and part horrified. When Dion makes good on his end of the bargain, Samantha’s deepest, darkest desires are unleashed. And the result is pure, sexy magic that can’t be tamed. (-Goodreads)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cover Reveal Night Vision by Yasmine Galenorn


Title: Night Vision
Author: Yasmine Galenorn
Series: Indigo Court # 4
Release Date: July 2, 2013

Review: Beautiful Disaster

Title: Beautiful Disaster
Author: Jamie McGuire
Series: Beautiful #1
Buy Links: Amazon, B&N, Kindle
Connect: Facebook, Twitter, Website
Photobucket

Abby Abernathy is a sweet, girl next door that can't help being attracted to the bad boy on campus. She is introduced to Travis Maddox by his cousin Shepley and Abby's best friend America while at an underground fight club. Not wanting to be like every girl on campus, she does the one thing that intrigues Travis. She resists his charms and doesn't want to have a one night stand with him. They quickly become close friends and ingrain themselves in each others lives. 

Before one of Travis' fights Abby and Travis place a bet. If she loses, she has to move into his apartment for a month. I'm not sure about others, but I would love to live with a sexy bad boy that cares for me for a month. Issues arise very quickly and definitely kept my interest and made me need to finish the book in one sitting.

I'll be honest with you, Beautiful Disaster isn't your run of the mill romance book. It has a lot of negative reviews because Abby and Travis' relationship is codependent. Travis also has a temper and throws and breaks things at the drop of a hat. Based on that, I honestly feel that this makes the book more true to life since we've all known at least one person that was either codependent or has a hot temper. I can sum up this book in one sentence and said it multiple times on Twitter already "OMG THIS BOOK IS AMAZING, GO BUY IT NOW!!".

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thrifty Thursday [6]


Thrifty Thursday is a post all about cheap or free ebooks.

$0.99
At Grave's End - Jeaniene Frost

$1.99
 Eternal Kiss of Darkness - Jeaniene Frost
Under a Vampire Moon - Lynsay Sands

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WoW 40 - My Bluegrass Baby - Molly Harper

Title: My Bluegrass Baby
Author: Molly Harper
Release Date: December 17th 2012

A brand-new novel in an original eBook series from popular romance author Molly Harper! When Sadie & Josh compete for the same Kentucky Tourism Commission job, sparks fly—turns out Kentucky really is for lovers.

Sadie Hutchins loves her job at the Kentucky Tourism Commission. Not only could her co-workers double as the cast of Parks & Recreation, but she loves finding the unusual sites, hidden gems, and just-plain-odd tourist attractions of her home state. She’s a shoo-in for the director’s job when her boss retires at the end of the year…until hotshot Josh Vaughn shows up to challenge her for the position.

Josh is all sophisticated polish while Sadie’s country comfort, and the two have very different ideas of what makes a good campaign. So when their boss pits them against each other in a winner-takes-all contest, they’re both willing to fight dirty if it means getting what they want. But it turns out, what Josh and Sadie want could be each other—and Josh’s kisses are the best Kentucky attraction Sadie’s found yet!


Why I am waiting:
I've read 4 or 5 books by Molly Harper and love her writing style. She tends to add silly things into the book and I never lose interest. Can't wait for this one!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: To Walk the Night

Title: To Walk the Night (Kat Redding #1)
Author: E.S. Moore
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
ISBN-13: 9780758268723
Release Date: January 2012
Genre/Sub-genre: Urban Fantasy
Year/Setting: Present Day
Overall rating: 4.0
Sexual Content Rating: None
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: Intense
Author’s Website: www.esmoore.net

Kat Redding is a force to be reckoned with. After being turned into a vampire against her will, she seeks vengeance by hunting monsters that go bump in the night. Kat is a strong female character that doesn't hesitate to shoot first and ask questions later. I wouldn't want to get on her bad side, luckily she only targets vampires and werewolves. She plots  her way into vampire Houses and quickly exacts her revenge.

Kat is very successful bringing down minor vampire Houses. She has built a reputation based on fear in her community and has earned the nickname Lady Death. A werewolf cult approaches Kat seeking assistance from a minor house that wants to take control of the Cult. I was honestly intrigued to see if she would be able to put aside her feelings towards werewolves and assist them. Kat isn't just a ruthless killer, the book shows her softer side when Ethan is brought into the story. She saved Ethan when he was a teen and has taken care of him since. I thought it was a nice addition to the book since it allowed me to know her character even better.

When I first started this book, I instantly thought of Underworld and Blade. Kat hunts her own kind by herself with a samurai sword, and there are also werewolves that act as bodyguards in the book. While reading I was able to picture the fight scenes, most of which are intense and some quite graphic. There is zero romance in this book, which suited the book well because of its content. Overall To Walk the Night is a fast paced thrill ride that left me wanting to read more of E.S. Moore's work.

This review was first published at www.OnceUponARomance.net

Currently Reading [39]

Title: The Guardian and the Dream Crawler
Author: S.L. Lewis

In the magical realm known as Eden, witches and wizards were protected from the demon realms by a powerful wizard known as the Guardian. Like clockwork, Guardians were replaced in every generation until the death of Logan triggered a prophecy the Wizarding Council always feared.

Daniel Smith and his family were then ripped from Eden and sent to live in the human world for their own protection until he came of age. Daniel had grown used to his non-magical life until a new History teacher arrived at Greenfield High revealing his true identity as the next Guardian.

As Daniel’s world begins to unravel around him, he has to deal with hiding his secret from his friends, a school bully wanting to make his life hell and the small matter of a demonic Dream Crawler feasting on his hometown. Welcome to the world of Daniel Smith, the Wizarding Guardian. (-Goodreads)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Torani Syrup Review and Recipe

I'm a member of the SheSpeaks community and was so happy to be invited in the Torani campaign. SheSpeaks is a community where you can interact with others such as blogs, polls, giveaways and so much more. Active members are invited to join in campaigns where companies work with SheSpeaks and send freebies for honest feedback. In the Torani campaign I received two free full size bottles of Torani syrup. The flavors I received are Peppermint and Salted Caramel. I couldn't wait to try out both of them so when I made cinnamon rolls I had to try out the salted caramel as a drizzled glaze.

Cinnamon Rolls:
1 Package of crescent rolls
Cinnamon
Brown Sugar

Glaze:
6 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
1 Tablespoon Torani Syrup
1 Tablespoon Milk

Instructions:
1) Lay out the crescent rolls and use a rolling pin to thin out the dough.
2) Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon
3) Roll dough up

4) Cut into little cinnamon rolls
5) Place the little cinnamon rolls in a small (or normal size) muffin tin
6) Cook according to the crescent roll directions

Glaze instructions:
1) Mix powdered sugar, Torani syrup and milk
2) Stir until smooth
3) Drizzle to your heart's content

The cinnamon rolls were delicious. I used the Salted Caramel flavor in the glaze and didn't tell my boyfriend. He immediately took a bite and told me "it's so delicious!!" so I think it is a winner! The Salted Caramel flavor was sweet but not over the top. I could easily add this to hot chocolate or even coffee to give it a kick.

Want a $1.00 COUPON for Torani syrup? Print it HERE.

Torani has over 100 different flavors that all sounds amazing (I'm really intrigued about the bacon flavor). I can't wait to buy more to try and to gift as hostess gifts this Christmas.

Disclosure: I was given the products mentioned above to write an honest review via SheSpeaks and Torani.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thrifty Thursday [5]


Thrifty Thursday is a post all about cheap or free ebooks.

Freebies
Released - Megan Duncan
The Witching Pen - Dianna Hardy
The Summons - Shona Husk
Samson's Lovely Mortal - Tina Folsom

2.99
Knight of the Dead - Jennifer Rae Gravely
Astraea Press | Kindle | Nook

4.61

Monster In My Closet - R.L. Naquin

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WoW [39] Princess of the Silver Woods - Jessica Day George

Title: Princess of the Silver Woods
Author: Jessica Day George
Release Date: December 11th 2012

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. 

The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all. (-Goodreads)

Why I am waiting:
This book looks like it could be amazing. I love fairy tales retold with the author's spin on things so this is going to be a must read. A mash up of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood sounds awesome to me.

What book are you waiting on?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Currently Reading [38]

Title: Automaton
Author: C.L. Davies

In the not too distant future, after the huge successes of role playing games and virtual worlds such as The Sims, Second Life, and reality shows such as Big Brother, it was only a matter of time before somebody took the next step. A remote island. An android population existing only to entertain. Their lives broadcast around the clock and around the globe. Their actions dictated by their owners. It’s the world’s biggest game played by thousands. Welcome to Gameworld. Dean 3012 is a good guy living on the Island. He loves his girlfriend, Lily, and with their first baby on the way, life is perfect. But when things take a sinister turn, the couple is plunged into a world of darkness and despair. Dean must take control and fight for all their lives.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Weird Girls Blog Tour



Title: The Weird Girls
Author: Cecy Robson
Buy Link: Amazon, B&N
Release Date: December 4th, 2012

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…

The Wird sisters are different from every race on earth—human and supernatural. When human society is no longer an option for them, they move in among the resident vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region. Could this be the true home they’ve longed for? Um, not quite. After the sisters accidentally strip a witch of her powers in a bar brawl, they soon realize the mistake will cost them. Because to take on a witch means to take on her coven. And losing the battle isn’t an option.

Includes a preview of the first full-length novel in the Weird Girls series, Sealed with a Curse—as well as introductions to the Weird World, and a letter from the author.

See below for excerpt and bottom of the page for the GIVEAWAY!


Title: Sealed With A Curse
Author: Cecy Robson
Buy Link: Amazon, B&N
Release Date: December 31st, 2012

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird…

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region—until one of them blows up a vampire in self-defense. Everyone knows vampires aren't aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust-fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague?

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha's family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy—or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it’s coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough.

Author Bio:
Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is an author with Penguin's SIGNET ECLIPSE. She attributes her passion for story-telling back to the rough New Jersey neighborhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Her dad unwittingly encouraged Cecy's creativity by kissing her goodnight wearing vampire fangs. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, she began writing her Urban Fantasy Romance Series, Weird Girls, in May 2009. THE WEIRD GIRLS: A Novella, debuts December 4, 2012 followed by SEALED WITH A CURSE, December 31, 2012, and A CURSE EMBRACED, July 2, 2013.

Connect: Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Website

Excerpt for The Weird Girls

Chapter One
The music pounded hard enough to shake Emme’s fuzzy navel, the umbrella in Shayna’s piña colada, Taran’s martini, and my Corona. I’d shoved pieces of cocktail napkin into my über sensitive ears the moment we sat. But I wasn’t going to complain about the eardrum-busting music or the crowd of young men sitting across from us ogling my sisters. We were there to celebrate.
Two years had passed since we’d left our native New Jersey. Two years of roaming the States as travelling nurses. Two years of searching for a place to settle down. We’d stumbled into the Lake Tahoe region when our agency transferred us to a local hospital on temporary assignment. We’d thought it would be fun to check out the area. We hadn’t expected to fall in love with the lush forests, the breathtaking mountains, or the mysticism of the lake. But we had, and collectively agreed to make it our home sweet home.
Shayna raised her girly drink; her blue eyes and grin sparkled despite the dimness in the booth. “To the Wird Girls finding an awesome place to live,” she hiccupped.
“To a thirty-year mortgage and a shitload of remodeling,” Taran muttered. She tried to complain, but couldn’t hide that siren grin that made males trip over their erections. She was happy to settle down, and she damn well knew it.
“To beautiful Lake Tahoe,” Emme added almost silently. She blushed when I glanced her way. I’d like to say she was just tipsy, but no. Emme blushed as easily as the wind blew fireflies. “W-well it is beautiful here, Celia.”
“I know, sweetie.” I tapped my bottle against her frou-frou drink. “Salud.”
I polished off my beer. It was my sixth round, still no buzz. Then again I could chug a keg. Alcohol had no effect on me. My lightweight sisters already slurred their words after three. In their defense, they didn’t have an inner beast with the metabolism of four linebackers to help them out. The waitress rushed over and slapped another Corona down before I could ask and hurried off. I snagged it before it tipped over. Ordinarily one might think of her as a diligent, fast, hardworking, go-getter―but she was just scared I’d eat her. Humans never knew what we were, yet they perceived we weren’t anything like them. They didn’t need the amplified senses of preternaturals to know were different. Problem was, different didn’t appeal to most. And “weird” just plain terrified.
“Oh my goodness,” Emme said. “You didn’t even peek her way or anything.”
My sisters had definitely received the less-daunting side of our backfired curse. I pushed my long hair from my face and shrugged. After years of being feared, I was almost used to it. Almost. “I don’t think tigers have to necessarily look at their prey to scare them.”
Emme placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. The jarring club lights further lightened her fair skin and blond hair and bleached out most of her freckles. “It’s not you, Celia. It’s these silly humans who never want to give you a chance. You’re beautiful. And so is your inner golden tigress.”
Taran rolled her huge blue eyes. “Tigers are beautiful, Emme. But most people aren’t stupid enough to pet one.” She sipped her martini as she gave me the once-over. “Or piss one off.”
Or date one, I thought to myself, taking in the frat boys on spring break continuing to stare and whisper about my sisters.
“Salma Hayek is mine,” one said of Taran.
“I’ll take the blonde,” the other murmured.
“I’ll go with the cute brunette with the ponytail.”
“Hey, I called dibs on her first,” his friend complained.
There were four of them. Four of us. One of the guys fighting over Shayna had taken an interest in me. That is, until he looked at me. Reallylooked at me. He smiled, but his scent of anticipation and lust quickly evaporated, replaced by the aroma of fear. He’d seen beyond my green eyes, olive skin, and long wavy hair to spot the predator lurking within. He saw her ready to pounce, ready to shred, ready to kill. Beautiful or not, tigers had that effect on humans.
Taran shimmied out of the booth. An impressive feat in the tiny, curve-hugging yellow dress she wore. If the hem lay an inch shorter, she’d end up on the Internet. “Shit. I have to pee.”
Shayna grinned at Taran as she ambled out, her eyes alternating from sparkly to glassy. So not a good sign. “I think that’s an oxymoron, dude.” She threw in a giggle, just to further clarify she was snockered.
I shook my head. Emme smiled softly. “I’ll go with Taran.” Emme was only five feet tall, and just shy of a hundred pounds soaking wet and bloated. Taran, although only three inches taller, towered over her in those step ladders she affectionately referred to as “shoes.” Me? Nothing said comfy like jeans, Uggs, and a long-sleeved tee.
The minute they disappeared into the hall leading to the ladies room, one of the good ol’ frat boys approached Shayna, careful to avoid eye contact with me. “Hey, hot stuff. How about a dance?”
Shayna’s glee faded when she realized I’d be alone if she went to dance. I smiled as best I could without scaring her potential date for the evening. “It’s okay. I’ll just hang and wait for Emme. Go on,” I urged when she hesitated.
The guy snaked his arm around Shayna and led her onto the dance floor. Her sleek black ponytail whipped behind her as she shot me one more tentative glance. She watched me for a while. At first I thought she might return to hang with her spinster-in-the-making sister until the call of Beyoncé loosened the hesitant muscles of her slender frame. It didn’t take long for Shayna to move like the world’s happiness depended on her booty shakes. It did, however, take a hell of a long time for Emme and Taran to return from the bathroom. The waitress dropped my eighth beer down just as I spotted Emme’s hands waving madly amidst the crowd forming near the ladies’ room. “Celia! Ceeeeeelia!”
What the hell?
I slipped out of the booth and rushed toward the crowd. The throng of horny and drunken patrons parted as I stalked, my hips swinging like a predator staking out her turf. That’s right. Stay back. Scary female approaching.
As I reached Emme, a deep buzzing sound vibrated from the bathroom, followed by a high-pitched squeal, topped off by Taran’s oh-so colorful language. I half-groaned, half-growled. Crap. How much trouble can someone get into in the bathroom?
I froze. Apparently a lot.
A fiery redhead stomped out of the restroom smelling like burnt toast, sporting a spiky new hairdo most porcupines would envy. I swore under my breath. Taran must have struck her with a mini-bolt of lightning. Her tresses stood out like wires, and the singed tips smoked. And God only knew what Taran had done to the rest of her dress. Scorched pieces of fabric barely covered Red’s pricey and fricasseed bra.
Her crazed eyes scanned the crowd. “Who’s with the slutty brunette?”
Emme glanced my way before raising a cautious hand. “Sh-sh-she’s my sister.”
The redhead stormed to Emme and jabbed an irate finger in her face. “Your sister’s a bitch.”
Maybe. But Emme certainly wasn’t. I shoved my way between them. “Leave her alone, and get out of our way.” My raspy voice remained deceptively calm. Yet Red easily picked up on my underlying threat: Mess with her, mess with me.
Red’s finger slowly lowered and her jaw slackened. She stumbled back, tripping over her feet and shoving her way through the crowd and out the exit. The ladies in line quickly followed suit and gave us ample room to pass. Perhaps there was a nice fir tree they could use out back. Emme stayed close to my heels as I shoved opened the door to the bathroom, her meek little voice shaking. “Should I get Shayna?”
“No, I think―”
My first clue should have been that Taran’s swear words had stopped bouncing off the stark white tiles like ping-pong balls. My second? The waft of dry herbs that filtered into my nose and screamed a warning. Witch. Witch magic. Taran was going head-to-head with an official worship-the-earth-talisman-wearing-broom-humper extraordinaire.
Taran’s blue irises blanched to crystal from the gamut of power tingling around a sandy-haired witch’s aura. “Sandy” smiled though it lacked any hint of warmth, friendliness, or love. In fact, if she was going for, “I’ll skin you alive and use your flesh as bedroom slippers,” one might say she pulled it off.
Silentio. Non vide,” Sandy muttered, all the while smiling and calling forth her bladder-releasing power.
Knowing Spanish helped me translate the Latin words. Silence and . . . don’t look?
Every muscle and tendon in my body tightened. She’d cast a spell to conceal any sound, any image from the club patrons. Jesus, what did she plan to do?
The aroma of crushed thyme thickened the air as her spell accelerated, coating my taste buds with a hint of her power. Yup, definitely not a good sign. My inner tigress circled restlessly, pawing at my ribcage with her claws, demanding out. “Taran,” I warned, “time to go home.”
Taran met the witch’s smile with one that sent Emme running, hopefully to get Shayna, the car, or both. The heavy door swung shut behind Emme. A loud click told me Sandy locked us in, and anyone who could possibly help us out. Sparks sizzled from the tips of Taran’s elegantly manicured hands as she gathered her magic. “No worries, Ceel. This will only take a minute.”
Taran,” I warned again. My fangs protruded without my consent. Another sign proclaiming deep shittiness awaited.
The sparks magnified into mini bolts of lightning as Taran stretched out her fingers. A small funnel of wind gathered around Sandy, sending bits of abandoned toilet paper circling around her. The fluorescent lights hummed and flickered just before everything went black.
“Taran!”
I tackled Taran into the handicapped stall as the equivalent of a supernatural cherry bomb took out the wall instead of my sister. The hole, roughly the size of our new dining room table, gave a great view of the dance floor where Shayna continued to shake her tiny, yet obviously shimmy-able butt. The crowd of onlookers had returned to their drunken debauchery, swallowing poor Emme as she jumped up and down trying futilely to get Mini-Shakira’s attention. It might have been funny, had I not feared we were finally about to die that miserable death we’d spent a lifetime avoiding.
Taran rubbed her head. “Son of a bitch.”
A deep growl thundered in my chest. My tigress eyes replaced my own and locked on the witch’s feet. She casually walked across the checkered floor, her red stilettos clicking like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.
She reeled into the black stall where we lay. Time was up.
For her.
“Well, well―”
I kicked the door right in her face.
She flew backwards into the sink and smashed her head into the mirror. Sometimes, I couldn’t control my strength. Fear of dying in a public bathroom will do that to a gal. I hauled Taran up by her elbow while her latest fan seemed down for the count. The cracks in the mirror spiderwebbed from her bleeding skull. I secretly hoped since it was technically her head that broke the mirror, the bad luck would fall on her.
When Sandy lurched from the sink and a second, equally pissed-off version of herself appeared to block the door leading out, I knew I was very much mistaken. Taran’s head whipped back and forth between them. “It’s the same person,” I snarled. She smelled the same, looked the same, and also bled from her forehead the same way. The only difference was she’d divided her magic in two.
Taran gathered her power once more. “I’ll take the bitch at the door. You take the bitch at the sink.”
Sandy―both of them―surprised me by laughing. “Mures,” they both spat.
That one pretty much got lost in translation. I prowled toward her. My claws shot from my fingers like bullets from a chamber. She didn’t move. She didn’t gather her magic. She didn’t blink. She simply laughed. Either she’d hit her head a little too hard or she didn’t fear us. The latter scared the hell out of me. My beast remained sure we could take her. My human half knew something sinister lurked beneath, bubbling with a touch of dark and a spoonful of evil.
A transparent heaviness filled the air, reeking of garbage and festering meat. The ten plastic soap dispensers lining the wall of the mammoth counter exploded one by one, like a row of bottles being shot to bits. Paper towels fluttered in the air around us like birds. The pipes beneath us clanged and a toilet flushed for no reason.
I hated when my human side was right.
I heard the first squeak and the scratch of tiny clawed feet followed by a few more. A lot more. Taran heard it, too. In her panic, she blasted a bolt of lightning into her psycho witch, taking out the obviously evil tampon dispenser in the far wall. Chunks of cardboard and cotton pelted me in the hair and back, and still I heard the squeaks getting louder, getting closer, getting scurrier.
The Sandy Taran attempted to fight had somehow appeared on the sink next to her other half. She sat on the counter with her legs crossed, swinging them merrily as the result of her enchantment reached a creepy crescendo.
The large brass drain near the sinks began to stir. “Taran. We need to get out of here.”
“Damn it, Celia―”
I clutched her arm when the brass drain tipped and a pink whiskered nose poked through. Mures. . . . Rats.

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