Guest Author: ML Erdahl

Title: Winter Takes All

Genre: Cozy Mystery


winter takes allCrystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her new year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.

Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.

But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.


Not the most auspicious start to my guiding career, Crystal admitted to herself.

Conner sat back down, took a grateful swig of the coffee and sighed. “This could have gone better,” he said stating the obvious.

“What happens next?” Crystal asked.

“We wait until dawn, see if he turns up, and escort everyone out of here. Hopefully, Philip is waiting for us at the lodge, and we can drive this whole miserable lot back to the city a day early. In the meantime, I suggest we follow everyone’s lead and try to get a little shuteye.”

Conner’s radio crackled with Sam’s voice, “We’ve found the missing man from your group, Conner. He’s at the bottom of a cliff. I’m sorry to say this search and rescue operation has become a search and recover.”

Conner paled at the news.

“What does ‘search and recover’ mean?” Crystal asked.

“It means he’s dead.”

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ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily.

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See my review on the “Mysteries” page:



Guest author: Judith Sterling


Night of the Owl (The Novels of Ravenwood, Book Four)

Book Blurb

PhD student Ardyth Nightshade has renounced men and pursues her twentieth-century career with single-minded focus. When fate whisks her to medieval England, she meets her match in a man whose passions mirror her own. Can she sacrifice ambition for a love she never sought?

Hugh, Lord Seacrest confounds all who know him. He refuses to marry without a meeting of minds and hearts, and no lady has even approached his ideal…until Ardyth. But she’s an odd one, with unique skills, shocking habits, and total conviction she needs no man. She also harbors secrets, and in the midst of rumors, plots, and murder, trust is fragile.

A woman outside of her time. A man ahead of his. They must take a leap of faith to forge a bond that will shape history.


Ardyth looked from one tunnel entrance to the next, and then the next. The ledge in front of them was substantial. It ran along the rock wall to the right, all the way to the mouth of the cave, winding around it to continue along the outer cliff.

Again, she pointed. “Where does that lead?”

“Shouldn’t you be doffing your clothes?”

Her eyes narrowed. “In other words, you don’t intend to answer my question.”

He grinned. “Clever, aren’t you?”

She returned his smile. “I like to think so.”

“If you’re stalling because you cannot swim—”

“Oh, I can swim.” She could hardly wait to feel the cool water on her skin.

He folded his arms, and his intense, gray eyes held a dare. “Then show me.”

“Hold this.” She handed him the folded smock. Get ready to eat crow, buddy! Quickly, she removed her boots, hose, and tunics. When only her thin, white chemise remained, she stole a peek at her skeptical host. He stared at her bare feet.

She sighed. “I know. My feet are hardly attractive. In fact, I’ve always thought my toes resemble…”

He raised his eyebrows. “What?”

Astronauts. But I can’t tell you that. “Nothing.”

His eyebrows settled again, but the orbs beneath them seemed to glow with a new light. “I beg to differ with your opinion. Your feet are quite…lovely.”

She almost laughed, until heat flooded her cheeks. I’m blushing? “Thank you,” she muttered. With an inward groan, she started toward the water. For crying out loud! He only complimented your feet. Your pale, crazy, NASA-evoking feet. Get a grip!

The ocean breeze caught the hem of her smock as she stepped into the surf. Foamy water—colder than she would’ve liked—enveloped her feet. Thank God for the heat of the sun! But this was the closest she’d come to a bath in days, and she was determined to prove her skills to the man who underestimated her at every turn. She waded forward, and the brisk, undulating water swallowed her calves, knees, thighs, and hips.

“Lady Ardyth!”

She turned. Her dry smock in his hands, Hugh stood with feet well apart on the wet sand.

“You needn’t prove your courage further!” he called above the lapping, swishing voice of the sea. “Come back before—”

“Courage isn’t the point! Swimming is!” The level of the surrounding water lowered to her thighs, signaling a coming wave.

She turned just as it crested and dove headfirst into it. Completely submerged in the chill, rushing water, she headed left and allowed herself to rise to the surface. She swam freestyle for several strokes, then flipped onto her back and floated with abandon. After a minute or two, she flipped over, and swam in the opposite direction. Then she stood with the water at her ribs, waited for the next wave, and indulged in bodysurfing, which carried her with a whoosh back toward shore.

Satisfied, she straightened, knee-deep in the water. Her wet chemise clung to her frame, and she knew Lord Seacrest was getting a lordly eyeful. Her nipples were rock-hard from the cold.

She rolled her eyes toward the bright, blue sky. My kingdom for a bra! And throw in a pair of underwear, too! But both articles of clothing were back at Nihtscua and not likely to appear anytime soon. For the first time since plunging into the surf, she regarded Hugh.

Eyes wide, her dry smock clutched in his hands, he stood as if frozen. Only his gaze moved, traveling from her breasts to the apex of her thighs.

She pulled the smock away from her flesh as best she could and advanced toward him, stopping an arm’s length away. “I told you I could swim.”

He blinked. Then his full, sensual lips curled into a smile. “Indeed, you did.”


“And what?”

“You’ve doubted me twice already. Perhaps you owe me an apology.”

His eyes widened, then relaxed. “Perhaps I do. Pray…forgive me.”

The words couldn’t have come easily, and the fact he’d said them made her grin. “I forgive you. This time. But I ask respectfully that you not underestimate me again.”

For two seconds, he hesitated. “ʼTis a reasonable request, and I shall endeavor to honor it.” He gave her a quizzical look. Then he shook his head and chuckled. “Is there anything you cannot do?”

She thought for a moment. “I’ve never ridden aside. If I’m going to ride something, I spread my legs.” The instant the words left her mouth, she cringed inside. Good God. That came out all wrong!

Humor curved his lips, but his eyes smoldered. Did his thoughts mirror hers? He took a step closer, and his masculine aura invaded her personal space. “Tell me more.”

Buy Links


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Author Bio

26488_1376520703706_7734619_nJudith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.

Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.


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A little extra…

The hero and heroine’s mutual love of history reflects my husband’s and mine.  You might say history brought us together because right around the same time, each of us decided independently to move from different parts of the country to Virginia, specifically to seek work at Colonial Williamsburg.  There’s a lot of both of us in Night of the Owl.  That’s why the book’s release date is perfect; it’s our 19th wedding anniversary!


Guest Author: David C. Dawson

Today, I’m welcoming David C. Dawson who’s here to talk about his book, FOR THE LOVE OF LUKE. (Release date: October 17). It’s an LGBTQ murder and suspense book that sounds really good!


A handsome naked man.

Unconscious on a bathroom floor.

He’s lost his memory, and someone’s out to kill him.

Who is the mysterious Luke?

British TV anchor and journalist Rupert Pendley-Evans doesn’t do long-term relationships. Nor does he do waifs and strays. But Luke’s different. Luke’s a talented American artist.

With a dark secret in his life.

Trial new headshot black and white SQUARED





 Amazon universal link:

Author biography:

David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers with gay heroes in love at their core. His latest book For the Love of Luke is a romantic suspense about an American who falls in love with a British man in London.

His debut novel The Necessary Deaths won a bronze medal for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. Rainbow Reviews said it was “an exciting read with complex characters”.

The second in the series, The Deadly Lies, was published last December.

David worked for the BBC as a journalist. He lives near Oxford in the UK, with his ageing Triumph motorbike and two cats.



“Evening, Mother,” Rupert called as he entered the large scullery off the main kitchen. “I’ve come to give you a hand with supper.”

Lady Cynthia Pendley-Evans peered around the open kitchen door into the scullery. She had a pair of reading glasses perched on the end of her nose.

“No you haven’t,” she said. “You’re here because Luke told you we should have a little talk.”

She turned from the doorway and stood with her back to him at the large wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. “Although, now you’re here,” she said, without turning around, “you can scrub some potatoes for me. I’m making a potato salad to go with the gammon.”

Rupert could not remember the last time he had seen his mother cook. It was a pleasant surprise to see her in the kitchen. He unhooked a large pot from above the stove and carried it to the sink to fill with water.

“Don’t keep me in suspense,” he said. “What do you want to talk about?”

“Oh, darling, you are funny,” said his mother. “I want to make sure you’re going to carry on seeing Luke, of course.”

Rupert set the pan of water on the stove with a clatter and lit the gas. He turned and leaned against the worktop with his arms folded. “I have no idea. Does it bother you?”

Lady Pendley-Evans put down the large knife she was using to slice tomatoes and looked at him over her glasses.

“Stop being so defensive, darling,” she said. “I asked a perfectly simple question. He’s a charming young man. Your father and I would be very happy to see you two together—”

“Father would?” asked Rupert. “I can’t believe that for a second.”

“And why the devil not?” said a voice from the hallway. Rupert’s father appeared at the kitchen door, a bottle of gin in his hand.

“Ready for a snifter, old girl?” he asked Lady Pendley-Evans. He looked across to Rupert. “What are you drinking, my boy? Gin?”

“I’ll have a gin and tonic, thank you, Father,” replied Rupert. “Can I help with them?”

“No, no,” replied Lord Pendley-Evans. “You stay with your mother. And tell her why you think I’m such an old fart.”

“I didn’t say that,” protested Rupert.

“No, darling,” said his mother. “But we know that’s what you think of the pair of us.”

“Well,” said Rupert, “I have some reason to.” He pulled a bag of small earth-encrusted potatoes from the cupboard and tipped them into the sink. He began scrubbing fiercely with a brush to remove the soil. “You’ve made it very clear for years that neither of you approve of me being gay.”

“Don’t take it out on the potatoes,” said his mother. “They’ll have no skins left if you carry on like that.” She picked up her knife and resumed slicing the tomatoes. “And you’re being grossly unfair. Of course, we were rather shocked when you sprang it on us. But that’s fourteen years ago. Please bless us with a little intelligence to have thought about it since then.”

Rupert set down his scrubbing brush and turned to look at his mother. “Then why haven’t you said anything before?”

“The subject never arose,” replied Lady Pendley-Evans. “Whenever I’ve asked you about your life in London, you’ve told me very little. I learn more from the Daily Mail about your night life than I do from you.”

Rupert laughed. “No wonder you don’t approve of me, if you believe what you read in that rag.”

“Darling,” said his mother, “it’s not that I don’t approve of you—”

“Well, maybe a little,” interrupted his father. He entered the kitchen and set down a tray of drinks on the table.

“Don’t interrupt, Clarence dear,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “It’s not helpful.” She turned back to Rupert. “I’m worried about you, Rupert darling. You go to all those dangerous places with your work. We see you on the television in Yemen or Iraq or somewhere equally terrifying. The next moment we read about you in the newspapers, flitting from one nightclub to another. Then once in a blue moon you come back here and spend the whole time being grumpy.”

She took the drink her husband offered her, and tasted it. “Heaven.”

Lady Pendley-Evans took off her glasses and looked at Rupert. “I just want to know when you’re going to settle down and be happy.”

“And we’d like to think,” added his father, “that this young chap might be the one to do it.”

Rupert could scarcely believe his ears. He accepted the tall glass his father handed him and drank from it. He was grateful Lord Pendley-Evans had been generous with the gin.

“When did you change your mind about me being gay?” asked Rupert. “Because I know damn well you hated ‘having a poofter for a son,’ as you so charmingly put it.”

“Yes, well,” said his father. He coughed loudly. “I suppose I’ve had a few years to think about everything—”

“It helped a lot when Roger told you he had a boyfriend,” added Lady Pendley-Evans.

“Roger?” said Rupert with incredulity. “Your school friend who was in the Guards? You never told me.”

“Well, you never asked.”

“Why on earth would I ask you if Roger was gay?”

“I thought maybe you chaps had a sixth sense about these things,” said his father. “Because I certainly didn’t. Mind you, he seems very settled with Jeremy. So it’s all for the best.”

“And their wedding this spring was absolutely heavenly,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “All those beautiful young men in uniform. I simply swooned.”

Rupert turned to his mother. “All right. How do you explain me away at All Saints Church these days? Are you still telling them I’m waiting for the right girl to come along?”

“Oh, don’t be so silly.” Lady Pendley-Evans put her glasses back on and resumed preparing the salad. “Reverend Whittaker left years ago. The Reverend Kenneth might be a little progressive for your father’s tastes, but I find him charming. And it’s so convenient that his partner is the organist and choirmaster.”

Rupert nearly dropped his glass. “The vicar of All Saints is gay?”

“I’m sure I’ve told you,” said his mother. But Rupert was certain she had not. “He’s so charming. And he’s marvelous with the flower committee. Anyway. You haven’t answered my question. Is Luke the one?”

Rupert was speechless. Partly because of everything he had just learned from his parents. But mainly because he was unsure of the answer to his mother’s question.

“I really don’t know, Mother,” he said at last. “We’ve known each other for such a short time—”

“That’s got nothing to do with it,” interrupted his father. “I knew with your mother the moment I laid eyes on her. As soon as I asked her to dance, she was the girl for me.”

“And I knew I wasn’t going to get any better than your father,” said Lady Pendley-Evans. “He was quite a catch that season. Luke seems to be a lovely young man. And he’s very smitten with you. Are you smitten with him?”

Rupert set down his glass and leaned back against the sink. He thought back over the last few days. He had never felt so happy in his life.

“I suppose I am,” he said. “But Luke’s got a lot of problems in his life.”

Lady Pendley-Evans crossed the kitchen to where Rupert stood. She put her arms around his waist and reached up to kiss him on his cheek. “My darling boy. We all have heaps of problems. Life’s like that. But they’re so much easier to face when you’re with someone who loves you. I think he could be very good for you.”

“Hey, hey,” said Rupert. But he could not help smiling. “Aren’t you rushing ahead just a bit? Let me take things at my pace. It’s been a very eventful week.”

“Of course, darling.” She patted his chest and looked up at him. Her face wore the same expression he remembered when she came into the nursery to say good night when he was a boy. “And when the time comes, Reverend Kenneth will be very happy to offer his blessing on you both.”

“Mother,” said Rupert. “Just….” He put his arms around her waist and hugged her. “Hold your horses, eh?” Rupert dropped his arms and wiped his eyes. “But thank you.”

He turned to his father. “Both of you. I wasn’t expecting to hear any of this tonight. And as for the vicar of All Saints—”

He was interrupted by a loud thumping on the front door.

“Who the devil’s that?” asked Lord Pendley-Evans. He put down his drink as the banging on the front door sounded again. “All right, all right, I’m coming as fast as I can.” He stomped off to the hallway, followed by Rupert.

Standing on the doorstep was Christian. He looked past Lord Pendley-Evans to Rupert. “Thank God I’ve found you. Where’s Luke?”

“What on earth are you doing here?” asked Rupert. “I brought Luke here to get him away from London. Just like you said. What’s happened?”

“It’s Pa,” replied Christian. “I think he’s tracked him down. He wants to kill him.”



Guest Author: Isabelle Rowan

A huge thank you to Sparkling Book Reviews for allowing me to visit their blog and introduce my new novel!

Furborn_postcard_front_DSPEarly settlers transported foxes to the Australian colonies, but not all foxes are what they appear.

Connor Coutts fiercely guards the family secret of the Furborn in sheep country Victoria, where foxes are shot on sight and left to hang from trees as a warning to others. At seventeen he is the only male Furborn for hundreds of miles, one of the last of a rapidly dwindling legacy. His life’s path is clear—until someone new arrives at the MacKenzie sheep farm.

Furborn is a tale of shapeshifters, Celtic mythology, and first love all set in Australia. My background is Geordie and Scots so I’ve always been fascinated with the legends (myths?) of the UK north lands be it the Lampton Worm or the Kelpies. I grew up hearing these stories even here in sunny Oz and find it very difficult to think of them as all fiction. The magic of the Darkland and fairies are part of my life – I even had a rowan twig put in my cot to protect me. Fairies and changelings were very real to my elderly relatives.

This is why I wanted my fox shifters to be part of the natural world and not a violent aberration.

Changing to fur wasn’t the way humans imagined. Connor had witnessed the bone crunching transformation to wolf in one of his few visits to his school’s media class. He’d chuckled at the close-ups of the actor screaming in agony while every bone in his hand shattered and reformed into misshapen paws. He’d groaned and slouched on his desk when the would-be wolf fell on all fours – spine popping and bulging through fake skin. No idea, Connor mused during the discussion of the director’s intentions for the scene. Words like evolution, retribution and the beast in everyone were bandied around, but all Connor wanted to say was bull! Change wasn’t painful. Why would it be? It was natural – nothing broke, nothing had to. His bones flowed into their other shape like stream water following its natural path. No pain. Just a heady sense of becoming.

 They were a joy to write and hopefully you will love them as much as I do!

Please take part in the giveaway raffle for either an autograph book or handmade jewellery!

Giveaways link:

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meA slinky cat for a witch may be a cliché, but add a whole bunch of tribal tattoos and an intolerance to garlic (seriously), and you have Isabelle Rowan.

Having moved to Australia from the North East of England as a small child, Isabelle now lives in a seaside suburb of Melbourne where she taught film making and English. She is a movie addict who spends far too much money on traveling… but then again, life is to be lived.

She is occasionally retired from teaching and is beginning a new career in story and screenwriting!

Isabelle Rowan:

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Guest Author: TJ Nichols


LucifersLitigator-smallWhen does paranormal become horror?

I tend to writer darker paranormal romances and urban fantasy. I like angst and making my characters work for their happily ever after. But I have never thought I wrote anything close to horror. I avoid horror films because I scare easy, though like most teens I did go through a (in my case short lived) horror book phase. I always called what I wrote dark and angsty.

But as I was writing Lucifer’s Litigator some of the scenes started to become quite chilling and I wondered where the line between paranormal and horror could be drawn. When does the creepy factor get dialled up too much?

With many paranormal romances we are asked to fall for the monster that we would usually fear—the vampire and werewolf being two obvious examples. While we fall for the monster there is usually some other big bad coming after our heroes.

If the vampires are hunting instead of seducing, things tend to shift and become darker because there is no love interest to filter the paranormal through. Without the paranormal love interest has the story tipped into something closer to horror with the heroes under threat and fighting to survive?

I think it has. Because horror takes a range of forms, from the creepy to the slasher, to the kind designed to make the watcher jump out of their seat. Horror creates a feeling of unsettledness which I think the paranormal creates when it is the enemy.

While I wouldn’t describe Lucifer’s Litigator as horror there are definitely moments where I hope the reader is on the edge of their seat.


To save his soul, he’ll have to fix his one regret—the love that got away.

The summer between the end of school and the start of what came next was full of sun, surf, and sex. For Will McLeod, that meant Tom, his first male lover. He knew the romance had an expiration date and would end when Tom joined the Army, but that didn’t stop Will from falling in love.

Tired of being looked down upon for being poor, Will became a lawyer—but not just any lawyer. He litigates for the gods as they gamble with the lives of those desperate enough to make deals. His job is to make sure they don’t slip free. He has more money than he knows what to do with, but he’s fast running out of soul.

Twenty-five years haven’t dimmed the candle Will holds for Tom, and when they meet again, he has a chance to put things right. Back then, Tom wasn’t ready to fight for them. Now the decorated soldier is willing to get his hands dirty, but will he be a match for the forces trying to keep them apart?

Buy links:

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TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer, TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily. Writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the every day. TJ is the author of the Studies in Demonology series and the Mytho urban fantasy series.

With one cat acting as a supervisor, TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

You can find TJ at:








To see Vicky’s FIVE SPARKLER Review of “Lucifer’s Litigator” go here


Guest Author: Andrew Grey

One of my favotite romance tropes is Second Chances.  I love it when two people are willing to give love another try.  And Twice Baked is one of those tyoes of romances.  I truly believe that there are many times when two people are right for each other, but maybe not right now.  Maybe the two of them have some growing to do or need to experience more of life before they can be together.  I believe that sometimes people meet too early and they just aren;t ready for one another… or in this case, Meyer and Luke weren’t ready to accept each other for who they are.  They were young and they kept tryin to chnage the other person rather than simply accepting them and loving them for who they were.
Throughout my life I have chnaged and grown a great deal.  I was also very lucky to have met my husband and had someone who was willing and able to chnage and grow along with me.  I like to think that Meyer and Luke needed to grow and have some time to experience life a littl emore before they were ready for one another.  But of course love always comes with obstacles and these two are going to have to decide if love is really worth it if they want their happy ending.
Dreamspinner Press


TwiceBakedFS_v1When the pickiest eater in America is tapped to judge a cooking competition along with his chef ex-boyfriend, will it be a recipe for a second chance… or disaster?

Luke Walker’s humor about foods he can’t stand made him an internet celebrity and his blog, The Pickiest Eater in America, a huge hit. He plans to bring that same lighthearted comedy to the show—but he won’t be the only host.

Meyer Thibodeaux might be a famous chef, but he’s solemn, uptight, and closeted. He’s also Luke’s ex. As different as they are, the sparks between Luke and Meyer never really went out, and as they work together, each begins to see the other in a new light, and the passion between them reignites, hot as ever. But secrets, gossip, and rumors on the set could sour their reunion.

Book Links


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Dreamspinner Press

Andrew GreyAndrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

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Dreamspinner Press


Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey


Twitter @andrewgreybooks


For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

For Vicky’s 4 Sparkler review of “Twice Baked” please see here.

It’s Alive! Revenge Among the Stars

Revenge Among the StarsBlurb: Aleksia Matthews is left for dead, after space pirates attack her ship and kill her brother. She swears to avenge his death but knows she can’t do the job alone. After taking out an ad for a bounty hunter, she weeds out the bad from the good, and one man stands out. He could be the perfect partner—and that scares Ali more than the pirates do.

Special agent Jason Cole is tracking the pirates who killed his family, but he’s always one step behind. There have never been any survivors—until now. He needs Ali to identify the attackers, but she proves to be stubborn. She plans to go with him on the hunt, and he’s determined to keep her safe.

While Cole and Ali seek revenge, someone at headquarters would like to see them fail. Together they battle explosions, their emotions, and danger from one of their own.

Links: Amazon

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The Wild Rose Press

Author Information:

Vicky headshotBio: Vicky has been married forever to the one person who accepts that she lives in a fantasy world most of the time. She’s even been seen at the beach building worlds for her stories. In addition to creating fun characters, fantasy worlds, and suspenseful situations, she also enjoys and is very good at things like writing policy and procedures manuals and setting up continuity and organizational spreadsheets, both of which she has actually earned money doing. She has a master’s degree in library science so likes things organized. Okay, so her family thinks having the spice rack alphabetized it a bit much, but she has no trouble finding what she needs when she needs it. And just because her extensive library is cataloged and organized, that doesn’t mean she’s obsessive. Honest. When not writing, Vicky can be found in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free, lactose-free, other allergy-free meals. Or watching the world go by from her front porch swing.

Author Links:


Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Page:





The airlock swooshed open, yanking him out into the vacuum of space. He got his bearings and aimed for the huge hole in the side of the little ship.

To combat the stygian darkness inside, he turned on a hand light to add to the lights on his helmet. The light showed a short, empty corridor to his left. Jason turned right and thought he caught a glimpse of bright yellow floating at the edge of his light. He shrugged out of his jets and thrust toward the object. As he drew closer, he could see an emergency suit with someone inside. He checked the gauges on the air supply. Empty. But for how long? He took several deep breaths and unhooked his supply, attached the hose to the suit, and towed the body to the breach.

“Sami? I have the body. No life signs. The systems are off, and the air is exhausted. I’ve temped it with mine.”

“You’ve got one minute to get your butt back here. I’m in as close as I can get.”

Sami’s locks winked at him from a short distance away. He shoved the body through the breach, keeping one hand on the suit so it wouldn’t float away. Once he exited, he grabbed his jets, gathered the bundle into his arms, and kicked off from the ship straight into Sami’s lock. The door slammed shut, and the emergency air flooded in. Almost before the inner door opened, he’d removed his gloves and helmet. Sami had a med-cart waiting for him. He dumped his now heavy burden on the cart and removed the helmet. The vision almost made him pause, but years of training kicked in.

He stripped the suit off the woman and yanked the diagnostic canopy over her.

“She’s in!” Jason rushed the cart toward the cabin that also served as his sickbay. Lights flickered as the displays came on-line.

“Get the cart hooked into my systems as soon as you can. Remotes aren’t going to work well enough,” Sami said. “Wish Dex had my avatar finished.”

“Dex should have the upgrades ready in two weeks. We’ll pick him up next time we’re at the Web,” Jason said. He hated to admit it, but he missed Sami’s avatar too. The android was handy to have around— especially at times like this. And unlike humans, didn’t demand his time or attention.

Jason positioned the head of the cart against the front wall and hooked in the leads. “Ready.”

He studied the overhead display, nodding when the flat-lined heart rate spiked, and then settled to a steady beat. “What do you think, Sami? Did we get to her in time?”

“Brain activity is good. All vitals are looking good. Do you want her awake or asleep?”

Jason cocked his head. “Asleep for now. I’d like to check over her ship. I wonder why the pirates left it more-or-less intact. Why leave this one behind? More importantly, who is this woman, and why is she still alive? And how did she escape? Or did she? Could she be one of them? In all these months, they’ve never left more than pieces of ships too small to even sell for salvage, and they’ve never left anyone alive. Why now? And why her?”

“Maybe they saw us coming?”

Jason snorted. “They were long gone by the time we got here. Keep her asleep until I get back. Then we’ll try for some answers.”

“No problem.” A fine mist flooded the unit.

Jason took a minute to study the woman inside. She had some lean height to her with curves in all the right places and the pale skin marking her as a spacer, but not the roughened features of most miners or grubbers. Her short, white-blonde hair curled softly around her face—the length also marked her as a spacer—short hair required less water, less time. It looked as if her nose had been broken sometime in the past, and her chin looked too angular for her to be called a classic beauty, but he thought her face beautiful anyway. He fingered his own nose and wondered why she hadn’t had hers fixed like he had.

“While you’re looking, do an ID scan on her and her ship. Let’s see if we can find out who she is. How’s she doing?”

“I already did the ship—there’s nothing there. The ship’s ID has been wiped clean.”

“Odd. Okay. See what you can find out about her. I’d like to talk to her—find out her occupation and her reason for being out here. How about her health?”

“She has a touch of minor frostbite, and I’ve detected higher than normal levels of CO2 in her bloodstream, consistent with her systems being down. I contacted Doc at the Web and got his input. I’ve already started the remedies. Are you leaving, or are you just going to stand there and stare at your slumbering beauty?”

Jason jerked his head. “Okay, okay. I’m going. Slave driver.”

“One of us has to keep things moving.”

He grumbled but got out a fresh air pack and locked on his helmet. A few minutes later he returned to the scuttled ship. He did a check on the systems, but nothing remained. No wonder they couldn’t ID the ship. The pirates had trashed the bridge. The breach had been in the hold so he didn’t bother going there. Amidship he found four small cabins and a gathering area. Had there been others on this ship? If so, where were they?

The first two cabins were empty, almost like guest cabins. Nothing more than the basics. The third one was a mess. Personal items floated around, mixing with data cubes and bedding. He snagged several of the items and studied them. Men’s things. Maybe a married couple? There was nothing feminine about anything here. If married, they didn’t share quarters. He grabbed the data cubes and stowed them in a bag to take back to his ship. The rest he ignored.

He closed the door on the room and floated to the last one. The door wouldn’t open, and there was nothing to brace against to force it, no way to get a grip.

“Sami? A ship this old, where would the controls to the door release be?”

“Should be one meter up from the floor and one centimeter to the right of the opening.”

Jason removed a small laser torch from his tool belt and aimed the beam at the spot Sami indicated. He sliced through the paneling, exposing the catch. He ripped the wires out then shoved at the door. The opening widened centimeter by centimeter until he had enough room to slip through.

Unlike the other cabin, very few things floated around. He snagged a silky shirt and smiled. The woman couldn’t be a grubber if she wore stuff like this. Although she had the looks, he didn’t think she belonged to the Magdalene Guild.

He studied the cabin. So, who and what was she? He opened a few drawers. Everything had been stowed neatly, in a specific manner he knew intimately. He hesitated, his hand on the drawer under the washbasin. “Comb and brush on the right, oral hygiene in the middle, scissors and clips on the left.” He opened the drawer. The interior looked exactly like he thought it would.



“Have you found out who our guest is yet?”

“I’m waiting for the data to come in. There’s an ion storm disrupting communications with the Web. Why?”

“Check her out with IMF. Unless I miss my guess, she’s had some training, maybe even graduated.”

“Interplanetary Military? Interesting. I’ll let you know as soon as I get through.”



Author: Vicky Burkholder

Release Date: 10/9/2019

Genre: Futuristic Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Editions: mobi, PDF, ePub,

Theme(s): Action-Adventure

SubGenre(s): Futuristic/Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Rating: Sensual (PG-PG13)

Word Count: 84563