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The Darkness Comes, by Bruce Blake – 99c Promo Blitz

TDC 99 cents

The quest for the revival of the Small Gods continues.

When shadows fall, the darkness comes…

A disgraced Goddess Mother wanders blind and alone, praying for her agony to end. When a helpful apostle finds her, could it truly be salvation, or does worse torment lie ahead?

A sister struggles to understand a prophecy that may not be meant for her while her brother fights for his life. If the firstborn child of the rightful king dies, will it spell the end for everyone?

Darkness and shadow creep across the land in the form of a fierce clay golem animated by its sculptor’s blood. It seeks a mythical creature whose sacrifice portends the return of ancient evil banished from the world long ago. With its return will come the fall of man.

As the game unfolds, the Small Gods watch from the sky, waiting for their time to come and their chance to rise again. They wait for the fall of shadows, the coming of the darkness.

They wait for night to descend.

This is the kind of epic fantasy that makes you feel as if you are part of the action. Find your escape in this story. This is a world the likes of which you cannot even imagine. No problem, Bruce Blake has already done that part for you. Honestly, you want this book. And you want it now, while it’s on this incredible deal.

AMAZON US

What’s that? You don’t know if it’s for you?

Read an excerpt:

Am I ready to kill?

A cloud of swirling mist sighed out between Kuneprius’ lips, rising into the night to smear the glow of the winter moon. He watched it dissipate, then exhaled another long plume, blowing it out the way he’d seen the Brothers do when they smoked their pipes filled with sweetweed. Instead of swirling like the wreaths he’d watched them create, his breath came out a ragged column.

“Shh.”

Kuneprius cocked his head toward the urgent sound, an apology teetering on the tip of his tongue. At the last instant, he remembered himself and said nothing, pressing himself flatter against the side of the hill. Fildrian lay less than ten man-lengths away, but the Brother’s black hood and robe hid him in the darkness; despite his proximity, empty loneliness ached in Kuneprius’ chest.

The lad grasped the short sword’s hilt tighter, testing its uncomfortable weight. Though he’d seen the seasons turn but twelve times, he’d trained with this very sword for six of them. The temple blacksmith formed it with him in mind, the grip molded to the shape of his fingers. Its length and weight had proved too much for him when he first held it, but he’d grown into it, its size ideal for a boy of his age. He shifted minutely, searching for comfort and understanding that the prospect of swinging the weapon to wound rather than in practice caused his unease, not the sword itself.

Will I be able to wield it when the time comes? Can I kill if I need to?

He’d never been sent on a hunt, so the sword’s edge hadn’t tasted blood other than his own when he got clumsy or distracted while sharpening the blade. He shifted his grip on the leather-wrapped hilt, hand slipping with the slickness of the sweat on his palm. For so many seasons, he’d trained for this moment; he knew he’d kill if the need arose.

I hope it doesn’t.

The rattle-clunk of wooden wheels on dirt track rolled along the shallow valley and up the hill to Kuneprius’ ears. Soon, he’d need wonder no more.

The apprentice angled his head to peer down the weed-clogged road, squinting as he attempted to pick out the wagons in the darkness. The lanterns hanging at the front of each, bobbing and swinging with the horses’ gaits, made it easy. He counted them silently.

One, two, three…four?

His heart lurched. Brother Fildrian had said to expect three—two carts and a covered wagon. Kuneprius’ gaze flickered to the spot where he expected to find the expedition leader’s dark shape, but he saw nothing. He glanced back to the track, the horse-drawn vehicles drawing closer and, in the glow of their lanterns, he counted two covered wagons.

Which one?

A horse nickered and a high-pitched voice spoke words to calm the animal, their meaning lost in the rumble of the wheels, but the intent clear in their timbre. This must be the tone of a woman’s voice, the first he’d heard.

Kuneprius wiped his slick palm on the front of his coat, hand pressing against the hard, smooth surface of the leather chest piece hidden beneath. When he breathed in through his nose, he inhaled the tang of the oil used to keep it supple.

“Psst.”

Brother Fildrian faced Kuneprius, his pale cheek a faint smudge beneath the dark hood. Moving precisely, carefully, the expedition leader stood and gestured for the apprentice to do the same. Kuneprius obeyed. Around them, cloth stirred against skin and sandals scuffed in frozen grass as the others rose, as well.

Fildrian descended the hill deftly, traversing from one narrow tree trunk to the next, leaving Kuneprius to wait as the other Brothers followed. A thrill of fearful excitement stirred in his gut. He tightened his grip on the short sword’s hilt, licked his lips, and swallowed the excess of saliva flooding his mouth.

Tonight I become a Brother. Tonight I become a man.

When the last of the ten robed men passed him, Kuneprius followed, concentrating on the placement of his feet, moving with the stealth he’d learned from Fildrian during training. Truthfully, the racket made by the clatter of horses’ hooves and wheels on stones and dirt would have hidden the tuneless din should he break into song and dance a jig. He’d do neither, but the thought made him stifle a nervous chuckle.

Brother Fildrian arrived at the bottom of the hill and crouched in the tall weeds beside the cart track. The others arrayed themselves on either side of the leader and Kuneprius stopped well back, secreted behind a tree. He hefted the sword, ready to fulfill his role to catch any who got through his companions in an attempt to flee.

But which wagon contains our prize?

He shouldn’t concern himself—Fildrian knew. Twelve turns of the seasons before, the expedition leader had been involved in the raid which brought Kuneprius himself into the Fatherhood; one of many times he’d liberated male children from a Goddess’ caravan. If anyone knew the ways of the Mothers, Brother Fildrian did. Kuneprius passed the time by counting his heartbeats.

Eight. Nine. Ten.

The lead cart drew close enough for him to see the sleek lines of the horse pulling it. Beyond the animal, the lantern hanging beside the cart’s driver shone on her face, reflecting in the woman’s eyes and outlining her features in its warm glow. Kuneprius swallowed hard.

He didn’t expect a woman to be so different from men.

Her hair—the deep red-brown of a chestnut in the moonlight—hung well past her shoulders in a manner not permitted of a Brother. Many of the apprentices, like Kuneprius himself, wore their hair longer, but not so long as hers. Small nose, smooth skin, full lips. The sight of her caused a flutter in the lad’s gut he’d never experienced.

What’s wrong with me?

His inexplicably dry lips parted and his sandpaper tongue brushed their surface. As he gazed upon the woman—girl, really; she didn’t appear many turns older than Kuneprius—the stirring in his gut spread. It spilled into his chest, speeding his breath, and crept into his loins. His man-thing began to harden, the way it often was when he woke in the mornings, prepared to make his offering to the Small Gods. He glanced at his breeches, then back at the girl, who was closer now, and noticed gentle curves hidden beneath her smock. His confused feelings grew. He crossed his legs to hide his confusion, but doing so increased his discomfort.

The girl’s cart rumbled past the spot where Brother Fildrian and the others hid, and the men remained secreted in the tall grass, waiting. The wheels of the first covered wagon clattered past; the second drew even with them. Brother Fildrian raised his hand, signaling the attack party, and they sprang out of the weeds.

Horses whinnied, one of the drivers screamed—not a shriek of fear, but a signal, Kuneprius realized. At the sound of her call, two armed warriors of the Goddess burst out of the first covered wagon, four more out of the second, catching the Fatherhood’s raiders by surprise.

Kuneprius’ eyes widened as he watched the women pounce on his companions. Metal clanged against metal, horses pranced and neighed. A tall Goddess warrior with a shaved head knocked Brother Imir’s sword from his hand, then skewered him. She pulled her blade free and a gout of dark blood spilled from the young man’s gut before he slumped to the dirt.

Hand gripping his sword’s hilt tighter than it should, Kuneprius took one step toward the fight, then hesitated. In his head, he heard Fildrian’s instructions: guard the flank; let no one pass; do not desert your post. But did he foresee the women bearing weapons? Was this the way it always happened?

Kuneprius slid forward another step. A woman screamed and fell, a gash on her leg; Brother Xeoru swung his sword two-handed and split her skull. Kuneprius flinched and looked away, found the cart driver’s gaze upon him. She climbed out of her seat, pulled a long dagger from a fold in her smock.

Panicked, Kuneprius returned his attention to the fight and realized the other drivers had abandoned their seats, too. Weapons filled their hands as they stalked toward the skirmish. Their addition to the warriors of the Goddess evened the numbers, swung favor away from the Brothers and squarely to the middle.

Until an axe separated Brother Xeoru’s head from his shoulders and a spear poked a hole through Brother Ategar’s chest.

For a space of heartbeats he forgot to count, Kuneprius watched, feet acting as though frozen to the ground. Blood spilled on the frosted dirt, painted the weeds beside the track the color of rust. One after another the fighters fell, Brothers and women alike, until three remained: Brother Fildrian; the tall, bald warrior woman; and the pretty cart driver.

The two Sisters stalked Fildrian, spinning him in a tight circle. One lunged, setting him off balance. He flailed and the tip of his sword caught the young one, opening a slash across her forearm. Kuneprius gasped. The girl dropped her dagger and clutched the wound, a pained expression creasing her smooth brow.

Finally, Kuneprius wrested control of his feet back from the grip of fear. He took a step toward the fray as Fildrian engaged the bald woman, his back turned toward the injured cart driver.

The warriors’ swords met, the clang of their blades reverberating in the chill night air. Kuneprius forced himself another pace, his sandal-clad feet whispering in the tall grass. His heart pulsed in his ears, loud and painful, distracting. He blinked hard to dispel the discomfort. When his eyes opened, the cart driver had retrieved a sword from the ground and crept up behind Brother Fildrian.

“Brother,” Kuneprius called, but his voice caught in his dry throat, cracked and fell to pieces.

Fildrian parried an attack from the warrior and lunged, running his blade through her gut. They stood frozen for a heartbeat, the two combatants staring into each other’s eyes as though sharing a final moment, a sliver of respect, then he wrenched his sword free with a twist. The woman’s knees buckled, spilling her to the ground. Fildrian turned, a smile on his lips.

And the cart driver slashed his throat.

“No!”

Kuneprius rushed forward, realizing he’d waited too long. When he needed it most, his courage failed him, and now ten Brothers lay dead with no one to blame but him. He gritted his teeth and growled in the back of his throat as he raced for the girl, using anger to drown his fear.

She spun at the sound of his approach, Fildrian’s blood dripping from her borrowed blade. Kuneprius swung for her head, driving her back, and the girl’s feet tangled. She stumbled, heel catching on dead Brother Ategar’s arm, and she went to the ground.

Kuneprius growled again, the end of it fading to a squeak of sorrow and loss. The girl scrambled away, hands and feet digging furrows in the dirt track, but the bodies cluttering the road trapped her from getting far. The young lad caught up to her, put the point of his short sword to her throat. Staring up at him, she froze, the fear of death shining in her eyes.

He hesitated, blinked. A tear ran along his cheek and he sniffed back the snot threatening to spill out of his nose.

“You killed him.”

“Please,” the girl said. It surprised him she spoke the same language as he did, though he knew of no reason for her to speak any other. “Please.”

The point of the short sword wavered and Kuneprius struggled to keep it from drooping. The anger burning within him after watching Fildrian, Ategar, and the others die melted away, dissolved by the blue of her eyes, the smoothness of her pink cheeks. Kuneprius’ mind flashed away, wondering why Brothers were permitted only to spill their seed on the ground when such beauty existed in the world. An out-of-place sound brought him back to the moment.

They both heard it—a mewling from within the first covered wagon. The girl’s eyes flickered toward it; Kuneprius raised his head. The small sound grew—a whimper to a whine, then to the full-throated cry of a tiny mouth that reminded Kuneprius why he was there.

A yell broke from the girl’s lips and she swung the sword tainted with Fildrian’s blood. Her grip slipped, the weapon twisted. The flat of the blade bounced off the leather chest piece hidden beneath the apprentice’s robe.

Time stopped for an instant, the baby’s siren cry filling the night. They stared at each other, each knowing what must come next. Kuneprius gulped around a lump solidifying in his throat and leaned forward on his sword. The tip sank into the girl’s neck.

She gasped, coughed. Blood burbled over her lips, ran along her cheek and into her ear. Her eyes found the young lad’s, a last plea shining in them, quickly fading. He turned away, unable to gaze upon her sorrow.

When her body went limp, he released his grip on the sword and stumbled away to retch on the ground beside the covered wagon. The baby wailed, beseeching him to come to it, take care of it. Kuneprius knew he needed to do just that, but his heaving gut and clenching throat prevented him.

Bent at the waist and breathing hard, he leaned against the wagon wheel. Sweat and snot and tears dripped from his nose and cheeks, the droplets pattering on the frozen dirt the same way as the blood of the Brothers as they lost their lives.

I should have aided them.

He coughed and spat bitter chunks of spew, wished for water to wash the horrid flavor off his tongue. The baby’s crying continued, assaulting his ears and rattling in his head until he could bear it no longer. With a shuddering breath, he forced himself upright and dragged his aching body to the back of the wagon.

Kuneprius pushed the flap aside a crack and peeked inside.

The babe lay on the wagon’s floor, a blanket tucked under its chin. Alone.

He clambered up, arms and legs exhausted as though he’d crawled here from the temple. On his second attempt, he struggled his way in and flopped on the deck beside the child. The baby ceased bellowing, eyes wide with wonder finding him. A few seconds passed as Kuneprius stared at the child’s tear-stained cheeks, its plump lips, and thin wisps of hair, then the wailing began anew.

Kuneprius wrestled himself to his knees and pulled the blanket off the baby, revealing a cloth wrapped around its groin and tied on either side. He fumbled with the knots, his numb fingers slipping until one knot came undone. If it wasn’t the right child, Fildrian and the others had sacrificed themselves for nothing. The thought weighing on him, Kuneprius hesitated a half-dozen heartbeats before pulling the diaper aside.

The stink of the baby’s soiled cloth made him gag. He raised his arm to cover his nose and undid the other knot. Beneath, he saw the baby’s tiny man-thing, and Kuneprius breathed a sigh of relief.

The Brothers were dead, but he’d accomplished what they’d come for: the babe was his.

***

Kuneprius attempted slinging each Brother over their saddle, intending to lash them in place and return them to the temple for burial, but they proved too heavy for him. He struggled Brother Fildrian up, the effort leaving him drained and panting, and worried that, if he took the time to do the same for the others, he’d be discovered. So it was the young Kuneprius rode through the gates of Teva Stavoklis with a child in his arms, four horses on leads, and a dead man lashed to a saddle.

Brothers and priests were already gathered in the square, though the leading edge of sunrise had just grazed the horizon. The sky perched on the cusp of the earth was crimson as the blood he’d seen spilled; the Small Gods swam in the ocean of darkness above that, waiting to surrender to the light of day.

Hands took control of Kuneprius’ steed, offered him help out of the saddle. He accepted, his sore and weary backside sliding off the smooth leather. When his feet hit the ground, his knees threatened to buckle, and another hand grabbed him by the elbow, helped him keep his feet. He glanced from one man to the next, realizing he knew each of them, but not recognizing any. A priest with his face hidden by a drooping cowl stepped forward and Kuneprius extended his arms, ready to hand over the child. The priest didn’t take the babe. Instead, he led the apprentice away from the throng of Brothers occupied with unlashing Fildrian from the saddle.

Three priests followed as the man led Kuneprius on a winding journey through the streets, past stone abodes and empty fountains, to a low building with no windows. To those unfamiliar, it appeared more storehouse than place of worship.

They crossed the threshold, as Kuneprius did every morning to pray for the return of the Small Gods, but didn’t stop to kneel on one of the threadbare prayer carpets. The hooded priest led him through the sanctuary room to a wide, stout door at the back, where they paused.

Kuneprius’ head spun and his belly churned, though his body had taken steps to ensure nothing remained inside it during his return. The scent of melting fat hung thick in the sanctuary room, given off by the squat tallow candles flickering and hissing on stands in each corner. For an instant, he thought his stomach might rebel again at their odor, but he forgot his beleaguered gut when the priest raised his hand and rapped on the door.

The baby, who’d been miraculously sleeping, shifted in Kuneprius’ arms, as though sensing the lad’s discomfort. He’d often wondered what lay hidden behind the short, wide door but now, as he stood on the precipice of finding out, he decided he’d prefer not to know. Unfortunately, the choice didn’t belong to him.

“Enter,” a voice within said, and a shiver ran along Kuneprius’ spine.

The priest pushed the portal open. Beyond, the chamber appeared similar to the sanctuary room, except much smaller. Bundles of herbs hung from spikes driven into the beams supporting the ceiling and thin tapers flickered in the corners. A table sat in the center of the room, a roll of yellowed parchment atop it. Beside it knelt Kristeus, the high priest.

In his twelve turns as an apprentice, Kuneprius had never laid eyes on the man or even heard of the door being opened. Seasons of wondering if someone truly lived behind the door had come to an end.

He hesitated in the doorway, gaping and waiting for the priest who’d led him there to enter, but he didn’t. A moment passed, expectation hanging in the air, before one of the other hooded priests behind Kuneprius laid his hand on the lad’s back and ushered him across the threshold.

The door clunked closed and the apprentice turned to find the others had left him alone with the high priest. The baby wriggled in his arms, then settled. Kuneprius gulped.

“This is the babe?”

Kuneprius knew the hooded figure spoke the words, but they seemed to float down to his ears from the ceiling. Before answering, his eyes flickered around the barren room, noting the lack of honey pot or personal items—only herbs, tapers, table, scroll, high priest.

“Y…yes.”

The hood moved minutely, as though the invisible head inside nodded.

“And the others are dead? Killed by the women?”

The words dropped on Kuneprius flat and monotone, except the last: women. It came out twisted and skewed, spat more than spoken. Kuneprius’ throat tightened with the urge to sob, forcing him to nod rather than attempt speaking. A dozen heartbeats passed and he thought the high priest might not have seen the gesture.

“Yes,” he said, his tone quiet.

Kristeus tilted his head back, revealing a chin and mouth, but nothing further. Lips pale to the point of transparency moved, the yellow teeth behind them clicking together twice before he spoke again.

“Bring him to me.”

The High Priest held out his arms, the sleeves of his robe falling away as he extended his hands. Skin as pallid as his lips; nails long, curved, yellowed, and cracked. Kuneprius hesitated. The baby stirred again, squeaked in his sleep.

“Come, boy.”

Kristeus gestured with his fingers and Kuneprius found his feet carrying him the short distance to the middle of the room, despite not having asked them to do so. He passed the baby into the High Priest’s hands and the child’s eyelids fluttered open. Kristeus regarded the babe for a moment, then lay him on the floor and bowed his head, words whispering from within the hood. Kuneprius resisted the urge to fidget.

Time crawled. The apprentice glanced away from the child, saw the herbs hung on the spikes were fresh, the floor swept, the walls free of soot from the tapers’ greasy smoke.

Someone comes in here.

The baby gurgled and the air in the room grew warmer on the lad’s skin. Kuneprius snapped his gaze back to the High Priest and found the man looking at him instead of the baby. He shivered despite the rising temperature.

“You have done well, apprentice. I have seen the coming of this child and you have done what needed to be done to make it so. Henceforth, you are Brother Kuneprius.”

The boy’s eyes widened and a flutter of pride pushed aside the nausea gripping his midsection. Never had an apprentice been named Brother before reaching their fourteenth turn. Eight seasons yet remained before Kuneprius reached that age. He thought it must be expected of him to respond, so he parted his lips to thank the High Priest, but Kristeus raised a hand, stopping him before he spoke.

“You will no longer be part of the liberating expeditions.” He slipped his hands under the baby, his long nails scraping on the wooden floor. “From this time forward, you have a much more important role to fulfill.”

Kristeus picked the babe off the floor, held him up as though examining a ripe melon rather than gazing on a living thing. Kuneprius wondered if the High Priest viewed everything in this manner, but put the thought from his mind. The air in the room prickled against his skin, standing the short hairs on the back of his neck on end. His sight wavered and, for an instant, he saw flames raining from the sky, trees burning, a river boiling. The hallucination disappeared as quickly as it came.

“Henceforth, you will be caretaker to the child,” Kristeus said, raising the baby into the air. “For you have brought to me Vesisdenperos, the sculptor. The one born to ensure the return of the Small Gods.”

The sweat on Kuneprius’ brow went cold.

both

Both books are available for purchase now. One click will take you there.

WHEN SHADOWS FALLTHE DARKNESS COMES

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in News, Paper Gold Publishing

 

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The HUNTER Series – re-launch and new look

Hello and welcome. I know this is sudden, and I also know you liked the old covers for this series, but…

… Trust me, the new ones are so much better! Universes above the old ones. Patti Roberts has surpassed herself! Besides, there is far more darkness in my books now, and the new covers reflect that better.

I’m setting up an event and giveaways, so I’ll be back with links in a day or so. Also during this event, the title for the third book will be revealed, so we’ll all know whom I shall dedicate this third book to. Watch this space.

 

You can have a look at the old covers one last time…

BLOOD IS HEAVIER WRAP COVER

Blood is power print cover 14072013-page-001

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in News

 

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Do you believe in love at first sight? NOT JULIET is Live!

And it’s live! You’ll have figured by now that I haven’t just abandoned this blog for no reason. I’m not making excuses for abandoning the blog, but there was a reason!

My experimental project, a first in so many ways for me, NOT JULIET is live and for a limited period on a promotional price of only 99c.

Here are the blurb, cover and links.

~~~

Riella Smith, an unconventional Romany Princess, travels to Tuscany on the trail of her father’s challenger, to delay him and prevent unnecessary bloodshed and humiliation. What she expects is trouble from a fearsome rival. But life is rarely that easy.

The trouble she finds is of a different kind. Soon, she faces the toughest decision of her life – again – though it should really be a no-brainer. All she has to do is choose between her people and a myth.

After all, there’s no such thing as love at first sight.

NJ banner single

Amazon UK, Amazon US, Smashwords (you’ll need this code for the promo price: XD79Y)

~~~

And some of the tags, to give you an idea of what’s within the pages: action, romance, romantic suspense, happily ever after, erotic, princess, Italy, England, Rome, Tuscany, Florence, sunshine, Romany, young first love, sweet, love at first sight, Jacuzzi, pool, lost love, heartbreak, helicopter crash, gangmaster, betrayal, escape, strong heroine, attractive hero, shooting, arson, weapons, second chance, reunion, battle, gypsy, king, conflict, tension.

Tempted yet?

~~~

The good news is that writing it was so enjoyable, I’ve decided to create a collection, and if you look at the Addicted To Love Romance Collection page, you can have a sneak peek at the next three titles (which I will somehow have to wrestle out this year. Having met one deadline, I am hopeful).

If you’d like a complimentary copy in exchange for a review, I’m sure that could be arranged. Let me know in a comment below.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in News

 

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New Release Review and Excerpt: Identity X, by Michelle Muckley.

Identity X_ebook cover
Synopsis
Ben Stone is a scientific genius.His determination is driven by a genetic disease that tears through his family and which snatched his father away years before.He will forsake anything to find the cure and save his own son from the same fate.Then that day arrives and NEMREC, a serum that can restructure and recode DNA is conceived.He feels that it might be the best day of his life, and that he has found the cure that will save his son from an unimaginable future.But when he returns to the laboratory to continue his work, he discovers that everything has disappeared, nothing left but an empty office with no trace of NEMREC. His dreams for the future are shattered.He assumes that it must have been stolen, but begins to worry when he can’t reach his wife or use his identity card.It seems that things couldn’t get any worse for Ben Stone, until he tries to leave the laboratory and only narrowly avoids being shot.He manages to escape, but finds himself as the central axis of an unthinkable conspiracy, one which hides dark and ugly secrets.He has to find a way to survive and save his family, but how is he supposed to do so when he is already dead?

~

Excerpt – part of chapter one

Sixteen eyes gazed back at him, twelve of them through heavy rimmed glasses.  They stood there silently waiting for him to speak whilst clutching their plastic cups, shuffling first left, then right.  Graham was still holding his pipette, his fingers poised and willing, trained for nothing but repetition and tedium.  Even in a moment of glory Ben could see that he was desperate to get back to his workspace.   Alan was pulling up a stool, rubbing the base of his back like a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy who had reached her daily limit.   Ami stood behind them, her open lipped smile full of reassurance, and she was staring at Ben as if they were the only people in the room.  Right now he was the centre of the world.  He was the centre of Ami’s world.  It felt good to have her approval.

Phil finished pouring the cheap champagne into his own crumpled cup before tipping the remainder of the bottle, which seemed to constitute little more than froth, into Ben’s.  He stood nonchalantly at Ben’s side ready for the celebratory cheer, the empty bottle swinging low.  As he nodded to Ben to speak, a quick come on, we’re waiting, a bizarre image of Phil crept into Ben’s mind.  He visualised a young Cambridge University student with smooth wrinkleless eyes, but behind the same thick rimmed lenses that he wore today.  The imagined face was youthful, yet was still topped with a balding scalp, only partially covered by the long hairs that had been left to grow from just above his left ear.  So ingrained was the image of the aged Phil, it was impossible to conceive a true and faithful representation of the young genius that he must surely have once been.  It was like he had always been old.

“Well, it has been a long four years,” Ben began, pausing for breath after almost every word.  It was hard to concentrate over the distracting sound of his wine as it fizzed about in his cup, and the whirring of the air conditioning rattling along above him.  His eyes were tired and gritty from the dry atmosphere.  It was seven thirty at night and he had been here for over twelve hours already today.  He had known by late morning that today would be the day.  When the first results came back, he knew it had worked.   As he gazed out from behind his own glasses to see them all waiting for him to say something momentous, all he really wanted to do was knock back his bitter and overly carbonated fizz and get out to the bar with Mark.

The truth was that he didn’t know what to say to them.   He felt an uncontrollable need to find something meaningful and poignant to say; to mark the life changing occasion with something that would never be forgotten.  He had to find something inspiring.  Something that would cause each of the scientists before him to regale their families with the story, who would in turn tell the tale to their friends, before soon enough the story would travel with the same inertia as a meteor through space.  He felt the weight of all great men before him who had stood on the same precipice of achievement, isolated in the solitary moment before the world learns what has been accomplished.  All that kept coming to his mind were the fuzzy static heavy words of Neil Armstrong as they were beamed back from the moon all those years ago.  People still spoke about that moment, even kids like Ben who were born years after the event.  It was impossible to forget the significance of that first footstep.  There was no person in the world that would forget that name, that moment, or those words.  His success today may not have the same intergalactic stretch from one celestial body to the next, and would perhaps be more quietly celebrated, but he felt the same sense of weightlessness.  This moment was the joy.  This moment was his, just before the curtains are drawn to reveal the expectant audience.  Stood there in his lab coat and shoe covers in front of a sea of tired faces, he felt as overwhelmed and excited, he imagined, as the first man to step foot on the moon.

“We have done it together.  This is our success, and it will change the world.  Raise your glasses.”  Ben held up his plastic cup, and a series of hands rose up before him, including Graham who had finally relinquished his pipette to the bench.

“Here’s to us.  And here is to NEMREC.  We did it.”  They all nodded their heads, their plastic cups in the air in muted celebration before knocking the liquid back.  He saw a couple of smiles, and several of them patted their nearest colleague on the shoulder, in a display of professional appreciation and admiration.  If he could have done so without automatically assuming an air of inflated self importance, he would have patted each of them on the back himself, and thanked them for their individual efforts.  Instead he settled on a submissive handshake with each, as the formal line of scientists disintegrated into a casual crowd.  He wanted to emphasise the joint effort today.  He knew in the whirlwind of media attention and fervent celebration that would surely ensue in the days to come that it would not be his team appearing on the television.  Nor would it be them who would be whisked away, by business class no doubt, to the next conference for genetic research that he was certain he had read was going to be a six day stint in Dubai.  It would be Ben Stone.  Revolutionary Scientist.  The one that cured genetic disease.  He rolled his self-awarded title around in his head enjoying the way it sounded and getting drunk not on the alcoholic drink, but the dizzy heights of accomplishment.  It sounded good.   Seeing that during his momentary lapse into daydream the rest of the team were either finishing up at their work benches or had already discarded their lab coats and were back in their own clothes, he took a step towards his own office.

“Don’t forget, drinks at Simpson’s tonight,” he called, as he saw a couple of them nod in enthusiasm.  Ami nodded too. “Eight thirty, I’ll be there.”  He turned and opened the door to his office, and sat down into the green leather chair.  It was always darker in here, although in theory there were the same number of lights as the main laboratory.  He knew because he had counted them last winter when one day he could barely see to read at his own desk, and he had indeed established that based on an equivalent floor space in the main laboratory, there were four recessed lights, just as there were above his desk.  The trouble in here was that there were so many papers and so many books that the light literally got sucked into the heaving mass of a lifetime of research.  Every surface had been utilised to hold some item of importance, including the uncomfortable looking couch that had on occasion formed an impromptu bed when he realised that the time to catch the last train home had passed him by.  It lined the only wall that wasn’t covered by a bookcase that stretched all the way up to the ceiling.  He had read every page of every book in here.   He had spent the majority of his life either huddled over a test tube, or with his head buried in a book.  He established his life’s path from the very first day that he learned of his family’s unfortunate trait.  It was the day that his mother had sat him down when he was fourteen and explained the basis for his father’s mood swings and how they would likely get worse, until one day when they might not be able to recognise the man they knew anymore.  Until then, Ben had been happy to play the role of a teenager.  He offered up no complaint when passing his time casually with his friends, racing his BMX around the park across the purpose built ramps to perfect his bunny hop bar spin trick.  But the day that she sat him down to talk, that changed everything.

 ~

My review:

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The synopsis accurately describes the action, and I loved the concept right from the very beginning… which was slow. So slow, in fact, that it took me days on end to pass the first 20% of the book. But then, so do some of Ruth Rendell’s books, and I still loved her. I persevered, mostly because I loved the concept. This had to get better! And it did.
Michelle Muckley did not disappoint. By 25% of the way through, the main character discovers he’s being targeted by an assassin. Imagine that! By 50%, my initial 4 star rating jumped to 5 stars, and then it fixed there for the duration. I absolutely loved the plot, the twists and turns, Ben’s gormlessness and Hannah’s determination. I even loved her father, who only featured for a couple of pages.
The author is a skilled storyteller and she has the knack of making the characters realistic. I loved them (or loved to hate them), though I would have expected Mike’s motives to be better veiled in mystery. As it was, the story allowed the reader to know more than the main character and, more than once, I found myself muttering ‘No, Ben, don’t do that!’. It worked for me. I was completely invested, and no way could I bring myself to put the book down from about 65% onwards.
A very enjoyable book, right on the point where three genres meet – mystery, action and thriller – I would wholeheartedly recommend it. I would happily gift it to some of my friends. Five shiny stars for Identity X.

~

michelleI was born in the town of Warwic in 1981. It is a small historical town in the heart of England, and I was the fifth child born into a family of boys. I developed a huge interest in the written world from a young age, and with more than a little help from Roald Dahl found quite the taste for anything gross and gory. Home now is Limassol, a city on the southern Mediterranean shores of Cyprus. Winters are spent in the mountains, summers are spent at the beach, and pretty much all hours between are sat at a computer where I am writing the next novel, or reading somebody else’s.

LINKS
 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Book Reviews, Guest Posts

 

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REVIEW: Kade’s Dark Embrace, by Kym Grosso

 

 

A Brilliant Read

 

http://www.amazon.com/Kades-Embrace-Immortals-Orleans-ebook/dp/B007P6JJFY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337688797&sr=8-1

 

— another good story I just did not see coming —

 

Kade’s Dark Embrace skates the fine line between a fast-paced crime thriller and an extremely sensual fantasy romance. I found this read full of surprises, starting with the fact that this is a debut novel. I am honestly amazed that this could be a first novel, when it is so well written.

The action begins on the streets of Philadelphia with the investigation of a murder. Detective Sydney Willows is leading the case, that is – until it becomes obvious the murder is not just a run-of-the-mill human one. When Paranormal City Alternative Police become involved and Kade Issacson, an imposing vampire who seems to know more than he’s letting on, gets in the way, Sydney is torn between her insane desire for his touch and her annoyance with his behaviour.

The plot is well-developed, with tiny shocks and revelations at every twist and turn, and the sub-plots work well within the whole; they are well-thought out and not distracting from the main story. The author makes good use of research and information, allowing the action to shift seamlessly from Philadelphia to New Orleans, through several well-described locations, and using enough detail to make her story real.

Another one of Kym Grosso’s major strengths is her characterization. The main characters – Detective Sydney Willows and vampire Kade Issacson – are perfectly distinct characters despite the fact that they have so much in common. Their reactions are natural, their conversations flow, their relationship changes and morphs with ease into… well, I am not going to give away all the secrets.

A special word on the book cover – every emotion implied by the picture, you will find within the pages.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance, a bit of spice and a nearly-constant adrenalin rush. It gets five stars from me.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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Meet Nick Hunter

Q: Who are you, Mr Hunter?

A: A father. A husband. A killer. In that order.

Q: I understand you met your wife, Maxine, on Christmas day on a beach in the Caribbean. Who made the first move? You or her?

A: Tequila.

Q: You went on a boat trip shortly after that, with her on board. Where did you travel to?

A: Places.

Q: Couldn’t you tell us where?

A: I could, but then I’d have to kill you.

Q: And now you’ve settled back in the UK. Is that because you wanted to be back where you were born, or Maxine asked you to bring her closer to her family?

A: Here, we are safe.

Q: Do you expect trouble from anyone? Wouldn’t you be safe anywhere you went?

A: I will never be safe, I know that. I only worry about keeping my family safe.

Q: What’s the best part about family life?

A: Love.

Q: And the best part about being a father?

A: Love.

Q: And your son, Cameron. He is only four years old. Any sweet family moments you would like to share with us?

A: Leave my son out of this!

Q: I see you are not what we could describe as a talkative person. Are you an angry person?

A: I spent too long being questioned by psychiatrists to worry about what other people think. You’d be wary too, if you were in my shoes.

Q: I see. What made you reconsider your, umm, career choice? Were you starting to feel guilty?

A: Oh, please, don’t play that card with me, it’ll get you nowhere. I just hate to see innocents dying.

Q: But you said you were a killer. Doesn’t that mean innocent people died at your hands?

A: (gulps) Innocent people did die at my hands, but I didn’t become a contract killer until after that. And I have never killed an innocent.

Q: Does that mean you believe killing is justified?

A: No. But the people I killed were on a blacklist anyway. I earned a living. If I hadn’t done it, someone else would have killed them instead. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do than listen to your judgemental c*** (storms off).

I apologise for my interviewee’s manners; I always knew he would be a hard nut to crack. Still, I am alive, for which I am grateful. Nick Hunter’s story will be available for purchase on kindle and in POD in a few short days from now.

Here’s a short excerpt that might explain a thing or two.

1. SPECTRE

Five and a half years on since setting sail from the Turks and Caicos with his future wife on board, Nick Hunter drove down the new Tudors housing estate, and then turned the corner into Princess Drive. He could see Mrs. Budleigh waiting for him outside, by her front door. She started talking as soon as she saw Nick’s boot emerge from the car.

“I’m sorry to bother you again, Nick, dear, but what with my daughter bringing over little Oliver for the weekend, I really need that poor little bird out of the house. Amelia wouldn’t approve of feathers in the same house as a small baby. I mean, it’s not like I’ve invited the little blighter in. And there’s nothing wrong with a little bird in the house. I remember my dear old mother used to cook with the door open because the kitchen window was a little sticky and the number of times we used to get birds fly right in – robins, mostly. They’re the cheeky ones. We even got a squirrel in, one frosty January afternoon. I used to think they were funny, you know, like an extra toy. We didn’t have many luxuries in them days. I suppose we are spoilt now, really, everything at the turn of a knob or push of a button… In here, dear, you know the way.”

Nick suppressed a smile and went straight through to the little living room, dodging two fat cats and four coffee tables smothered in doilies and china figurines and closely followed by Mrs. Budleigh who was keeping up a steady flow of chatter worthy of a world tournament. He had a good idea of what the little intermittent chirp that Mrs. Budleigh confused with a bird trapped in her lampshade was, so he’d agreed to pop in on the way home, despite the irrational need he’d felt all day to get home to Maxi as soon as humanly possible.

He opened up the set of steps under the light, to humour the old woman.

“Careful, dear. You don’t want to frighten it now. It might fly out to another room, and then we’ll have a job on our hands. I’ve left out a little food for it – some biscuit crumbs, ginger nuts and shortbread. That’s all I had around the house. And I put down a little saucer with water and one with milk, but he’s not come down to it yet. That’s why I think he might be trapped there, the poor dear.”

Nick smiled and swiftly unscrewed the shade from the light. He turned it upside down under the shocked gaze of the old lady.

“No bird in here, Mrs. Budleigh. But I bet I know where that little chirping sound is coming from. When was the last time you changed the battery in your smoke alarm, Mrs. Budleigh?”

“Er… well… I don’t know, dear. Are you sure that’s what it is?” She followed Nick to the small fitting on the stretch of wall between the living room and the kitchen, craning her neck around his elbow to watch him changing the battery. “I really don’t want Amelia to come and find a dead little bird in the house. It would only give her more reasons to stay away. She visits so rarely these days, I never know when I’ll see her next…”

“There’s no bird, Mrs. Budleigh. I promise you. Look, I’ve just changed the battery. Now, you can leave the food and drink out for the bird if you like, but you saw there wasn’t one in the living room and it can’t be in the kitchen because that light’s a neon strip. Have you been hearing the bird upstairs at all?”

“No, dear, I don’t think so.” The old woman shook her head to reinforce her words.

“Just what I thought. Give me a call tomorrow morning if you hear it again and I promise I’ll come right back and we can have another look for it, ok?”

“Yes, dear, if you’re sure you don’t mind.”

“Now, would I mind helping my favourite lady in the whole neighbourhood? Of course I don’t mind,” Nick winked at her.

“Ooh, steady. You’ll be making me blush and then what will the neighbours say?” Mrs Budleigh swiped her brow and fanned a little air over her face with one shaky hand.

Nick smiled and waved goodbye, then made his way back to his van. Another satisfied customer. His small electrical business had taken off faster than expected, probably due to the fact that he actually knew what he was doing. Maybe there was something good he could take out of his army life, after all. A silver lining.

Maxi would most likely grin and say ‘I told you so’. His lips stretched into a wide smile as he remembered the evening they met – not the most romantic circumstances, but memorable nonetheless. Nick had been ready to become a recluse; he didn’t believe there would be a place on earth, anywhere, for him. A place where he would fit. Maxi wouldn’t take his pessimism. She’d stuck by his side and made it all possible. More than possible, she’d made it all seem easy, fun, normal.

Ten more minutes and then he would be home. Silly how eager he was to get home every day, as if it were the most powerful magnet on the planet.

At first, he thought married life was going to feel too much like being tied down. A nonspecific, ordinary house stuck in some dreary British neighbourhood, with an all right garden, the view from its windows never changing was bound to become boring; Nick thought he would grow tired of it, get itchy feet.

Funny how easily he and Maxi had slipped into married life, how perfectly normal having a child had been, how natural it felt to have a standard job in a nondescript town on earth, a place where he belonged. Cameron was four now, growing up fast and starting to have an opinion about almost everything. Like the newsreader on the television last night. ‘Don’t like him’, Cameron had declared, and then he grabbed his fluffy plush giraffe and held his arms out to be picked up for bedtime hugs.

The shrill ring of his mobile phone pulled Nick out of his daydream. Home, said the caller display. 4.16. There were two missed calls as well – both from his home number.

He pressed the call button without slowing down.

“Maxi. Hello, beautiful,” he started.

“Nick. I thought you’d be home by now, sweetheart. I don’t know how long you’ll be, but I thought I’d remind you. You said you could pick up Cam from Samuel’s birthday party at five.”

“Ah. Yeah. On it.”

“Julia Anderson said they’ll look after Cam for a few more minutes if you’re late, so no rush.”

“It’s ok, I’ll be there. I’m nearly home now.”

“Oh, that’s good news. I’ve got your friend JB here – he’ll be pleased to know he won’t have to wait much longer.”

Nick stomped on the brakes and swerved into a lay-by, narrowly avoiding a collision with a Land Rover pulling a horse-box behind it.

“JB? You mean Jesse Bent?” Nick felt like ice shards had replaced the blood in his veins. He felt numb with foreboding. Frozen. How did they find him here? “Maxi? Max!” he yelled when she didn’t answer right away. “Max, are you there? Are you all right?”

“Of course I’m all right,” she answered, confusion seeping into her tone. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Um…”

He ignored her question, panic making his thoughts bump into each other like badly driven dodgems. JB was dangerous. JB worked for the wrong people. JB did not have any qualms when it came to taking people out. But that was not an explanation Nick could give over the phone. Flashes of images of their last encounter on Grand Turk, the day after that fateful night he and Maxi had met, whipped through his mind like sharp flashes of lightning in a summer storm. The interview room of the tropical police station, Maxi and her friends sitting there for hours, giving statements and filling out forms, hungry, exhausted, covered in sweat and harassed by flies. And Jesse Bent swaggering in and past the front desk as if he owned the place. The look in his eye told Nick all he needed to know. King was untouchable, and this case would go the way of so many others. Small fry would be blamed and the real fiend in Cockburn Town wouldn’t even falter in his stride.

Nick squeezed his eyes tightly shut, struggling to pull himself back to the present moment. He needed to get a grip if he was to stand any chance of outsmarting Jesse. JB was a coward, but a clever one. That he was here showed that he felt too comfortable, much too safe to feel threatened by his close proximity to a serial killer. Nick wondered if he’d lost his touch. Did married life soften him so noticeably? And if it came to it, would he be able to kill again? Nick winced at the thought.

“Nick?” Maxi’s voice came through, an edge of concern to it.

“When did JB get there?”

“About twenty minutes ago. He said he was passing and thought he’d say ‘hi’. Oh, and he says ‘hi’ from someone called Dollar, too.”

Maxi mumbled something close to the phone, to JB, Nick guessed. It sounded like light-hearted banter. Not holding a gun to her head, then. Yet.

Ugh! Nick’s lips pressed together in frustration. He should have been there, by her side. He should have listened to his instincts. He should have turned around and gone home as soon as the idea first popped into his head.

“Um…” Nick spoke softly, trying to sound calm so he wouldn’t worry Maxi unnecessarily; maybe all JB wanted was a chat. “Is Jesse alone?”

To have JB prowl around his home was bad enough. But the mention of Dollar’s name sent shivers down his spine. Nick didn’t want him anywhere near his family. Dollar de la Rue was not just bad news, mention of his name had most people who knew him hide somewhere deep and dark and hard to find. The man was hand in hand with the devil, as long as the devil was loaded. Hence the nickname.

“Yes, he’s alone,” Maxi’s voice came clear and untroubled. “He’s been telling me about the time you two were in the army together. He’s shown me a picture of the two of you in combats in front of a derelict tower. I still think you’re the better-looking one, by the way. But you never said you had such interesting friends – JB’s a real charmer.” She giggled. “Good job we are happily married.”

The picture in front of the tower? Nick remembered it well. It had been taken two days before Corporal Rodgers died supervising a bomb disposal, together with two of the best experts. The following day Nick became acting Corporal. Battlefield promotion. Promotion that he didn’t deserve. Promotion that led to the death of six incredibly capable men. Nick closed his eyes against the old nightmare that threatened to engulf him. He was already feeling the weight of his brothers’ bodies, the ripple of bullets through their motionless forms as they protected him even in death, shielding him.

Nick struggled to pull his mind out of the haunting horror of so many years ago and come back to the present once more; he needed to focus solely on the crisis unfolding in the here and now.

He felt trapped. What should he do? Tell Maxi to get out and run? Run where? To the neighbours? Down the road? JB would probably shoot her dead if he did. The neighbours, too. Ignorance was certain to be Maxi’s best chance of survival.

Nick was quiet for a second, tactical manoeuvres, evasion strategies and diversionary scenarios chasing through his head like a hundred miles an hour slide show. Then a spike of adrenaline shot through his frozen limbs, nudging him into action.

They needed to get away. Neither Maxi nor Cameron were safe. Neither was he, but that wasn’t the most important consideration right now. He could look after himself.

Where to go first? Home? Or the Andersons?

Nick shoved the gas pedal down and screeched out into the road again. If he ignored the speed restrictions, he could be home in five minutes flat. And if JB was alone, he would not pose much of a threat. He hadn’t hurt Maxi; she would have said something, or the tone of her voice would have given it away. But she sounded totally relaxed, like nothing more had happened than an old friend called in and proceeded to regale his wife with real-life wartime stories.

He would drive home then. Take care of JB, talk to him, do whatever had to be done to discourage him from ‘dropping by’ again. Then he would tell Maxi to start packing. They could fling the essentials into the van in ten minutes, and still have time to collect Cameron from the party by five. No need to frighten him; he would have more than enough to cope with when they wrenched him out of the community he knew and loved and moved him someplace new and unfamiliar. May even need to spend some time on the run.

Nick quickly mentally catalogued their assets, refining his plans in the process. The Andersons lived just the other side of the main street from home. The shortest route would take them through the middle of town, right past the Spar. They could pick up a bag of provisions on the way. Cameron should be fine at the Andersons’; they were sensible people. They would not let a stranger come anywhere near the kids.

The challenge was only to get Cam and Maxi safely out of town. Once on a train or plane or boat to somewhere very far away, he knew he could make his little family safe all over again. Only this time they would go the whole hog and change their names, too; he wasn’t taking any chances anymore. How stupid of him to think they would be safe here, in a civilized country like England. He’d been so certain the nightmarish, vile felons from his past life wouldn’t dare come after him here. He’d thought that chapter closed, sealed hermetically shut, unquestionably beyond any chance of revival.

Maxi heard the change in his breathing, or maybe the noise of the abused engine alerted her.

“Nick? Nick, are you all right, sweetheart?” But she didn’t wait for an answer. “Oh, JB says his son is at Samuel’s party, too. Can you believe it? What a small world! You could give him a lift there later, maybe. You probably have so much to talk about, old times to remember… Oh, JB says that, apparently, the entertainer was sick, so he rang up an old acquaintance of his who is good with party tricks. Axel. He says Axel wanted to be a magician when he was a kid, he knows a lot of tricks. Isn’t that marvellous? JB literally saved the day.” Maxi’s voice was thick with gratitude.

The ice shards returned and started shooting up and down Nick’s body, draining him of all feeling. His breath came out in a loud whoosh, leaving his lungs empty and aching. His thoughts congealed as the complete reality of this meticulously laid trap sank in. They were good and truly cornered; someone had thought through all the details very carefully indeed. Much too thoroughly to have been the work of a lowlife such as Axel, or even JB. That must be where Dollar de la Rue came in. Dollar was an architect, and if he designed this particular operation, then…

He needed to get home to Maxi as fast as possible; she was in grave danger. Cameron, too. All the worries he thought he’d left behind five years ago, all the fears about endangering other people’s lives together with his own came crashing down on Nick now. The guilt and self-loathing were so strong for a moment, they were wringing the life out of him, stopping him breathing, choking him. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t speak. His hands alone kept moving, continuing to steer the car with robotic accuracy. His eyes were glazed, staring at the road and seeing nothing.

“Can I talk to him? To JB?” Nick said when he recovered. His throat felt tight and raw. He tried again to clear the obstruction in it, taking quick, shallow breaths, like a girl. It didn’t work.

Maxi mumbled away from the phone again. “JB says he’ll be outside waiting for you. That way he can have a smoke.”

JB was getting out of the house. Away from her. That was good.

Nick sucked in a deep breath, willing his tense voice to loosen a little. “I’ll be there in two minutes.”

“Ok. Love you.” She sounded calm, composed – had she picked up on his anxiety? If she had, she didn’t let on.

“Love you, too. See you in a bit.”

The line went dead.

Axel – entertainer at the party. No. That didn’t sound right. He couldn’t carry off a clown act; the mere sight of his little piggy eyes would make the kids run screaming for cover. Nick recognised this part of the story for what it was intended to be – a warning. They knew where his son was. Maybe they even had a man watching him play with the other kids right now.

Would they barge in and take Cam? No, they wouldn’t want to cause a scene; this was England, not the Caribbean. They would probably wait until it was time to go home and then try to slip into the house in the middle of all the end-of-party confusion, a parent looking for their son’s lost toy, or coat, or something.

Nick lurched the van around the corner on two wheels, then he could finally see the house in the crook of the cul-de-sac, with its squat laurel hedge and the neat front lawn bordered by forget-me-nots.

JB was ambling lazily towards the end of the road; he was only twenty or so yards away.

Nick stomped on the brakes, more at ease now that the threat was so much farther away from Maxi.

When he came level with JB, Nick wound down his window and rolled to a stop. This conversation was best kept private.

“Jesse,” Nick said by way of greeting.

“Keeping well, I see,” JB smirked towards him. “Nice house you have there. Pretty wife, too… Four-year old son… You’ve been busy.”

Nick counted to ten in his head. When he could unclench his jaw, he spoke through his teeth.

“What do you want, Jesse? Get to the point.”

JB smiled and pulled hard at his cigarette. “Always in a hurry, you are. Patience has never been your forte.” He smirked and took another long pull. “Ok. Dollar says your services are needed. I don’t see why it has to be you; I can think of a hell of a lot more deserving cases, better people… more focused, if you know what I mean… No… um… distractions in their lives…”

It was imperative to keep any emotion off his face until he found out exactly what JB’s instructions were, so Nick kept quiet and concentrated on breathing evenly in and out. There was a crushing weight on his chest that made pulling the air in almost impossible. He needed air to think, to keep one step ahead and find a way to get Maxi and Cameron out of this unscathed. They were all he had – his life, his entire world was built around them.  The best, the only truly good part of his existence happened since he’d met Maxi. If they hurt her now… or Cam – so young and innocent, so adorable…

Nick could feel his control slipping with every thought and every image of Cameron and Maxi his mind brought up from the unfathomable depths of his memory.

JB scrutinised Nick’s expression and leered. He obviously found Nick’s discomfort enjoyable.

“Having a wife and a kid must make it so much harder to concentrate on the job in hand,” he observed.

“I’m an electrician now. I don’t have problems concentrating.”

“Hmm,” JB snorted. “You might have, if you’re not careful.” He tilted his head to the side, staring straight at Nick with cold eyes. His face betrayed no emotion. “Dollar says to be as convincing as I need to be.”

“If you hurt Cameron, I swear –”

“He wants you on board. Badly, I’d say.”

Nick swallowed against the lump in his throat, still feeling winded, and chose his next words with great care.

“I stopped doing that sort of work more than five years ago. I’m not sure how much good I would be now – to Dollar or anyone else. I’m out of practice.”

From the corner of his eye, Nick saw Maxi’s slight figure stop and peer out of the living room window. She’d grown her hair and the soft, shoulder-length silver-gold waves suited her much better than the pixie haircut of the day they’d met. She smiled and waved at them.

“I thought as much. You always used fancy words when you tried to wriggle out of doing your job,” JB spat the last few words out at Nick and then he flicked his cigarette butt high over the van’s roof.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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10 Points To Remember When Writing A Book For The Film Industry

About a month or so ago, right about the time when I decided to write another thriller, it occurred to me that it would be much easier for an eventual film producer to ‘see’ my book as a worthwhile investment and pick my story over so many others if I did away with a lot of the cumbersome reality check points and wrote it movie-ready from the start.

After a couple of hours’ research I’ve come up with the following main points to remember and implement when writing a book specifically for the film industry:

  • You can always find a gun when you need one
  • When spied on, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other
  • Any lock can be picked using a credit card or hair pin in seconds, unless the building is on fire and there’s a child trapped inside
  • In a martial arts fight, even when hugely outnumbered, you will only have to fight one person at a time, because the others will be involved in an intricate dance around you and will only step in when you’ve dealt with their predecessor
  • There is always one perfectly positioned free parking space, right outside any building you may be visiting
  • A detective will always fall out with all the other officers on his team, but this is absolutely necessary because he can only solve the case after he is suspended for insubordination
  • Every laptop computer is powerful enough to override the communication system of any invading alien civilisation
  • A blow to the head of a ‘goodie’ never results in concussion, but you merely need to trip a ‘baddie’ up to take them out
  • No one involved in a hijacking, explosion or major natural phenomenon ever shows symptoms of shock
  • If your protagonist starts dancing in the street, every person they bump into automatically knows all the steps and want to join in

Can you think of other important points? Please share them with us in a comment.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Just A Thought

 

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