Saturday, July 12, 2014

What's new with Dorothy Bodoin

Dorothy Bodoin, Author eNews

July 2014
My July newsletter was delayed by a computer virus and a rather long wait for the Geek Squad. But all the annoying pop-ups are gone now, I hope forever, and I'm happy to be able to write on the computer once again.

The Fourth of July passed with perfect weather and the requisite fireworks, which I barely tolerate. I don't like excessive noise. Fortunately my collie, Kinder, doesn't mind them, and thunder doesn't bother her either. I've had two collies who were terrified when people set off firecrackers and driven to distraction in thunderstorms.

My niece, Emilie, flew in from New York for the week, and we had a wonderful time hanging out and visiting with friends. At the beginning of the week we visited Judy Kuhn and her collies, Shane and Sierra, in Carlton, Michigan. Judy has a gorgeous house with acreage and a fantastic collection of collie memorabilia, figurines, prints and paintings. It would take more than a day to see everything.

We had a lovely lunch and the collies were well behaved and charming. This has become our tradition, and we're all looking forward to the next visit.

On the Fourth of July we drove to Metamora for a picnic with one of Emilie's school friends and her family. As usual, while we were driving through Metamora, I imagined that Foxglove Corners was just beyond the next country road. I'm always a little surprised not to find it on the map.

We enjoyed great company, great food and no firecrackers.
At home, my computer was suffering from a virus. Pop-ups even invaded my Microsoft Word. Consequently I played around with one chapter for a week and am just now moving happily ahead. Apparently viruses strike even when you have virus protection-which I did.

In my new Foxglove Corners book, A Ghost of Gunfire, Jennet is looking forward to the end of the school year but not to the danger that is creeping up on her in every direction.

For various reasons, I didn't meet my goal of twenty chapters by July Fourth. But I have sixteen chapters and part of the seventeenth, along with a new goal: three-fourths of the book finished by the end of August-God and computer willing.

I didn't realize how attached I've become to social media. Of course I have my back-up lap top, but I find it slow and tedious to use and impossible to type neatly on. I also upgraded to an I phone but am still learning how to use it.

In the garden, my yellow lilies and purple coneflowers are bursting into bloom, and I have a new deep purple wave petunia plant, a gift from Emilie, to nourish. Now that I finally have a camera, I plan to take pictures, especially of Kinder, and post them on Facebook, which will involve another learning curve. The two I posted recently were done with Emilie's help.

I've been rereading old Norah Lofts books: The Suffolk Trilogy and Bless This House, with Jassy waiting on Kindle. None of these books are new to me, and I can't say that I didn't enjoy them the second time around, but I feel as if I'm drowning in English history. These books are more suitable for a winter night's reading. So with a revived computer, I'll be searching on Amazon for new books in my favorite series.

That's all for July, but I'll be back soon with August news. I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and wherever you go, you'll have a book handy.

Available here 

What's new with Debra Webb

Debra Webb Faces of Evil header
Deb Webb's News

It's release day! I have two free books for you!

I'm thrilled to announce that book 9 in the Faces of Evil series is out today!!! HEINOUS is available in paperback and ebook exclusively at Amazon! For those who prefer Nook or another format, you can download a free Kindle app to your device or to your computer! Order HEINOUS now by clicking here! To celebrate the release of HEINOUS, for this weekend only I'm giving away VILE, book 8 in the series, as well as SILENCE, the series prequel, both in ebook. Get your free copy of VILE by clicking here! Grab your free copy of SILENCE by clicking here. If for some reason VILE is not listed as free on Amazon, check back later in the day and I promise it will be. Now, if you haven't started the Faces of Evil series yet, you can get OBSESSION, book one, in ebook for only .99 or in paperback for only $3.99! Get OBSESSION by clicking here! What great deals! Be sure to grab yours before Tuesday or you'll miss out! There are only two books left in the Faces of Evil series. DEPRAVED, coming in November, and then MOST EVIL, the two-part finale coming at Christmas. You don't want to miss a single story in this bestselling series!

Our first grandchild, a precious little girl, was born in May. She is the most beautiful baby you have ever seen with a head full of long hair! We also have an amazing little seven-year-old grandson who joined our family two years ago. Those two light up my life! My husband, our two dogs, and I are settled in our new old house. This one is much smaller with no stairs and a more manageable yard. Our children, though grown up and married, are close by and doing well. They and our grandchildren keep life entertaining!

Enjoy the rest of your summer! You’ll be hearing from me again this fall and then again in November when DEPRAVED, book 10 in the series, releases! You can preorder DEPRAVED now by clicking here!




Special Thank You's 

Street Team

As always, I must thank my awesome Street Team. I often talk about how it takes a village to get a story out to readers and these wonderful people are part of that village. If you'd like to be a member just sign up at! We'd love to have you. There are lots of prizes and just plain fun!

I must also acknowledge my amazing editor, Marijane. She is tireless and simply incredible!


Visit me!

You can visit me at Facebook by going to or on Twitter at!

See you next time!

Deb's signature

Upcoming Events

Release of DEPRAVED,
Faces of Evil book 10

Release of MOST EVIL,
Faces of Evil Finale 11/12

Whats new with Jane Jamison

It's Getting Hot!

Wow. Is it hot or what?

I'm trying to stay cool in HOTAtlanta, the sizzling ATL, but it's not easy. Turning down the thermostat on the air conditioner takes care of one kind of heat. But when you write books like mine, there's another kind of heat to deal with. You know what I'm talking about (wink, wink).

Summertime is a great time of the year to read. Whether you're lying on a beach somewhere (I am so jealous!) or cozied up in front of the A/C, I hope you enjoy the book!


Get your pleasure in Pleasure, Texas

(Pleasure, Texas 3)


Blackmailed by the owner of a sleazy e-magazine, Jewel Jackson is forced to take pictures of the BDSM activities at The Club at Pleasure Ranch. If she doesn't get the goods, he'll put her sister's sex video on the Internet, ruining her sister's life.

When cowboy brothers Owen and Ryce Killian meet Jewel, they think she could become their permanent submissive. She's sexy and headstrong, making her the perfect challenge for them. Problem is, she's also very skittish. Almost as though she has a secret to hide.

Charged with finding out who's taking pictures of the club's members during sex, the Killian brothers can't ignore that Jewel is a prime suspect. Can they get the truth out of her before it's too late? Although they're ready to teach her the tricks of a Dom/submission relationship, can they believe that she's only a waitress? Or has she got tricks of her own she can teach them?

Click HERE to get your copy of TRICKING HER COWBOY DOMS.

Even better! Get a 15% discount if you buy before July 18th.

For Newsletter Members Only
Excerpt Setup:

Working at the BDSM club at Pleasure Ranch is a whole new experience for Jewel Jackson. But with the sexy Killian brothers around, she's up for the challenge.

Excerpt Begins:

She was getting used to the strange activities and sexual appetites of the customers. As far as she was concerned, as long as they weren't hurting anyone-other than those who liked receiving pain-then whatever they did was fine with her. She made it to the bar, gave Wilson their orders, then turned back to help Danni.

And promptly slammed to a stop.

Danni was next to one of the booths that gave members more privacy. Standing next to her was Ryce and Owen. At once, her body's temperature took a flying leap, pushing her internal heating mechanism to the limit. Where the room had seemed the right temperature before, it now felt like a sauna.

Just ignore them. You have a job to do and can't get close to anyone. Not even to them.

But ignoring the Killian brothers was like floating in the air. No way, no how would she be able to pull it off.

Danni waved like a crazy woman to get her to come over. Walking toward them was like balancing on a two-edged knife. She wanted to get near them, but at the same time, worried about what might happen. One way or the other, she was bound to get cut.

"Hey, what's up?" She put on her best smile, gave each man a quick look, then focused her attention on Danni. Not that it helped much. The internal furnace kept getting hotter.

"I was just telling Masters Owen and Master Ryce that we'd love to do a scene with them."

Masters. If any men fit the title, it was them.

"Oh? I thought you two preferred a single sub to share." She remembered the eye color of the first boy she'd ever loved and how she'd gone on for days talking about his "dreamy" eyes. Now as she fell into Owen's and Ryce's eyes, she finally knew what real dreamy eyes looked like. If she could swim in their seductive brown depths and never come back, she would.

"We do. Most of the time."

If Owen stared at her any harder, she'd melt right at his feet. The man was sex personified. A man's man who could claim any woman he wanted.

"We were talking to Danni when the idea of doing a scene with you came up. Both of you."

The glint in his eye said he wasn't telling the entire truth. Had they really wanted both of them? Ryce's chin could cut glass, but she had the feeling his kisses could be both hard and soft, changing it up to torment her. If she had the nerve to ask to kiss him, she could find out. But her nerves were always jittery around the Killian men.

"Both of us? That's really nice of you to offer, but I haven't done any scenes yet."

"It was Danni's idea. Still, don't you think it's time you give it a try?" Ryce's eyes held a spark of humor. "Still, we aren't pushing you. You know how it is. No one's ever forced to do anything they don't want to do."

Don't want to do? Having their hands, lips, and tongues skimming over her body? She couldn't think of anything more she'd want to do. Unless, of course, it was to have their cocks inside her. Yet, she'd seen how playing out a scene could become very emotional for the submissive. If she lost control, she might say the wrong thing and spill the beans about her real reason for working there.

"I don't know. I'm not sure I'd make a very good sub."

"I think you're dead wrong, but how're you ever going to know unless you try?"

Ryce took her order pad and tossed it on top of the booth's table. Grabbing her by the hand, he pulled her with him to take a seat. She slid over the leather cushion, staying as close as she dared to Ryce while Owen scooted in after them, closing the gap between them. Danni took the other opening of the couch and sat down.

"Yeah, Jewelly, let's give it a go. I think it'll be a lot of fun."

The gleam in Danni's eyes said she thought it'd be more than just fun. The girl had a major crush on them.

"How can you be so sure?" She was trapped between two men who didn't have to touch her to make her squirm. Trapped and enjoying the hell out of it. But did that make her a submissive? Dreaming about having them bind and gag her was one thing, but reality was often a different thing. Did she dare try? Maybe. But in public? She'd never liked the idea of public exhibitionism. Or were they talking about using one of the private rooms?

And with Danni? Other than a few kisses, she'd never tried doing anything with a girl. Plus, if she tried and Danni called her Jewelly right in the middle of everything, she'd get turned off big time.

"You'll never know until you try. Besides, I can sense it from you." Ryce's smile was like a lighthouse beacon to a lost ship. Its warmth drew her closer, daring her to come ashore. "You're giving off a vibe that says you want us as much as we want you."

She met those soul-capturing eyes and couldn't deny it. "Wanting and subbing aren't always related. Maybe I'm more of the champagne-and-roses kind of girl. And not the spank-me-until-I-scream kind."

"Maybe you're both. There's only one way to find out."

(Please note: Slight revisions may have been made from original text for inclusion in the newsletter.)

Click HERE to get your copy!

(Pleasure, Texas 2)
A BookStrand and Amazon Bestseller!


The men in Carly Rivers's life have lied and cheated on her. The only thing she can count on is that she can't count on men. She's on her own, back in Pleasure, and determined to get her mother to leave her abusive father.

Ranchers Hank Irons and Ron Callows moonlight as Doms at the BDSM club at Pleasure Ranch. After hiring Carly as a waitress, they hope they can turn her into the submissive they've longed for. But when she freaks out while getting a spanking, they're thrown. Can she handle being a submissive? Can they help her lose the chip on her shoulder regarding men? Or will her lack of trust ruin all their plans?

Carly's past comes back to haunt her forcing a showdown between her men and her father and mother. Who will she trust? Her family? Or her Doms?

Note: This book contains graphic depictions of domestic abuse.

Buy from --- BookStrand | Amazon  | B&N | Kobo  
(Werebears of Shatland, Texas 3)
A BookStrand and Amazon Bestseller!


Bynn Caraway ran a bear down in the road. And yet, when she searched for it, she found a naked man instead. Now she's come back to Shatland with her sister Lizzy, to find that man-bear, cage him, and make him shift, proving she hasn't lost her mind.

Werebear brothers, Liam and Connor McGarrett, sense that Brynn's their mate. Their brother, Finn, was the bear she ran over three months earlier. They're torn between telling her what they are, or playing along until they're sure she can accept their bear counterparts.

After his brothers take their turns inside the cage, Liam gets trapped when Lizzy's scumbag fiancé decides to expose him and show the world what he really is.

Brynn started the trouble, wanting to prove shifters existed. But now that she's fallen in love with the sexy cowboy werebears, can she bear to let them go?

Buy from --- BookStrand | Amazon | Kobo | B&N - Coming soon  

Just a reminder:

Siren Publishing books release first on Approximately 6-8 weeks later, they will release on However, you don't have to wait that long! Books purchased from can be sent to your Kindle. 


(Pleasure, Texas 4)

Available August 8


Eva Marie McAlister vows to keep herself for true love. But keeping her vow isn't easy working as a waitress at the BDSM club. Until she finds the men she wants, it's a policy of "hands off the private parts".

Cowboys Gage and William Langham are hired on at Pleasure Ranch and the club. When Eva Marie is assigned to help them learn how to be the best Doms they can be, they quickly realize she could be more than just their teacher.

As natural Doms, Gage and William catch on fast and soon end up teaching their submissive a thing or two. She's riding them hard and they want the chance to repay the favor. But no matter what, Eva Marie's sticking to her guns when it comes to giving it up.

The Dom/sub lessons are going well. But when another wants control, the threat spins their lives into chaos.

Watch for my Twitter and Facebook pages for its release !

If you enjoyed my books, please be kind and leave a review so others may know how much you liked it. It doesn't matter how long the review is, your opinion is always appreciated. So if you'd like to do a girl a solid, please review my books on Amazon, B&N and all the other places where my books are sold.

Jane On the Web..

What's new with Shayla Black

The Shayla Black Newsletter
In this issue:
  • Shayla Black News
  • Wicked Lovers Update
  • InkHeart Box Sets
  • Appearances
  • Mood of the Month
Current Releases
Wicked Lovers
Theirs to Cherish cover
Masters of Menage
Upcoming Releases
Naughty Little Secret
July 15, 2014
Brothers In Arms
July 22, 2014 

Wicked Lovers
March 3, 2015 

July 23, 2014
RWA Readers for Life
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Marriott Rivercenter
San Antonio, TX
Attending information
September 26-28, 2014
Midwestern Book Conference
Minneapolis Airport Marriott
Minneapolis, MN
Register here
July 12, 2014
Shayla Black News
Happy July!! I’m personally a fan of the warmth and sunshine, so I’m soaking it up. I’m also doing my best to heat things up here. First, I’m beyond excited to share the cover, blurb, and buy links for Wicked Lovers 9, HIS TO TAKE! Y’all are the first to read an excerpt of the book!! I hope you love the vivid, sexy packaging as much as I do, along with the snippet of this special story.
In the whirlwind of July, you will see my novella Wicked All the Way (Wicked Lovers, Book 6.5), along with 12 other great books for just $2.99, in the Ink Heart Authors Steamy & Sizzling Box Set. It will be available for a very limited time so get it while you can! Also look for the reissue of Naughty Little Secret around July 15. This contemporary erotic romance has always been one of my personal faves, so I hope you enjoy the hot new cover. If you’ve never read this story, don’t wait! On July 22, I’ll be reissuing His Lady Bride, book one of the Brothers in Arms medieval series! This series has never been available electronically, so don't miss out. 
If you’ll be at the RWA Readers for Life on July 23rd in San Antonio, come by to say hi.
Finally, the Shayla Black Store is complete! If you’ve ever wanted your favorite title—or all of them personally signed—they’re all available, along with a couple of cool goodies. If you’ve been wanting a “More Than a Little Wicked” Shayla Black T-shirt, they should be coming on sale again soon. Details will be on the store. Stay tuned!
Wicked Lovers
Coming March 3, 2015!
His to Take
His to Take Cover

Wicked Lovers, Book 9
Reserve yours today!

Racing against time, NSA Agent Joaquin Munoz is searching for a little girl who vanished twenty years ago with a dangerous secret. Since Bailey Benson fits the profile, Joaquin abducts the beauty and whisks her to the safety of Club Dominion—before anyone can silence her for good. 
At first, Bailey is terrified, but when her captor demands information about her past, she's stunned. Are her horrific vision actually distant memories that imperil all she holds dear? Confined with Joaquin in a place that echoes with moans and breathes passion, he proves himself a fierce protector, as well as a sensual master who's slowly crawling deeper in her head...and heart. But giving in to him might be the most delicious danger of all. 
Because Bailey soon learns that her past isn't the only mystery. Joaquin has a secret of his own—a burning vengeance in his soul. The exposed truth leaves her vulnerable and wondering how much about the man she loves is a lie, how much more is at risk than her heart. And if she can trust him to protect her long enough to learn the truth. 
“…What about you? You’re with another government agency, so you’re here to . . . what? Be my lover? Does Uncle Sam think you need to crawl between my legs in order to watch over me?”
Joaquin ground his jaw. She was hitting low, and the logical part of him understood that she was hurt, so she was lashing out at the messenger because she didn’t have anyone else. But that didn’t stop his temper from getting swept up in her cyclone of emotion. “I’m not here on anyone’s orders. In fact, I’ll probably be fired for pursuing this case because Tatiana Aslanov isn’t on my boss’s radar. When it became obvious the agency intended to do nothing, I couldn’t leave you to that horrific death. So here we are. But let me clue you in, baby girl. Uncle Sam doesn’t tell me who to fuck. I can’t fake an erection, even for the sake of God and country. That kiss we almost shared? That was me wanting you because just being in the same room with you makes me want to strip off everything you’re wearing and impale you with every inch I’ve got.”
When he eased closer to Bailey, she squared her shoulders and raised her chin. “Don’t come near me.”
That defiance made him wish again that he was a spanking kind of guy. He’d really like to melt that starch in her spine. If she wasn’t going to let him comfort her, he’d be more than happy to adjust her attitude with a good smack or ten on her ass, then follow it up with a thorough fucking. A nice handful of orgasms would do them both a world of good.
“I am so done with people lying to me,” she ground out.
That pissed him off. “You think I’m lying to you? About which part? Your parents being agents? That I’m sorry? Or that...READ MORE
Available Now!
Special Box Sets
Forever Wicked cover

Steamy and Sizzling Summer Reads – eBook – limited time only!
InkHeart Authors Box Set
KindleBarnes and NobleiBooksKobo
The CEO's Fantasy by RG Alexander
Dean and Sara agree to a month of indulging their most forbidden fantasies--but when reality is better than his wildest dreams, will the CEO break his own rules to keep her?
Wicked All The Way by Shayla Black
When a gruff military man with a desire to control seduces a skittish divorcee bent on finding her independence, will she give in to more than their sizzling chemistry?
The Dom Who Loved Me by Lexi Blake
Sent to steal her secrets, he soon craved her submission. 
The Male Stripper by Opal Carew
Her ultimate sexual fantasy brought to life....not one, but two sexy male strippers for one night of torrid passion she'll never forget.
Elemental Pleasure by Mari Carr and Lila Dubois
There is passion and power in three. 
Grif by Bianca D’Arc
Grif is far from home when he meets a sexy, magical woman in desperate need of his help. 
Web of Desire by Cathryn Fox
When the captive suddenly becomes the captor, Ally finds herself tangled in a web of desire—of her own making. 
Allure by Nina Lane
In Book Two of the sexy Spiral of Bliss trilogy, Liv and Dean West's passionate romance is put to the test as they struggle with an unexpected family crisis. 
One Hot Fall Term by Sharon Page
College freshman Mia fights to make a long distance relationship work with her gorgeous hometown boyfriend Ryan--but billionaire's son Jonathon plans to seduce her away.
Dare to Love by Carly Phillips
When a man who requires dominance falls for a woman who needs independence, can they survive the fallout? 
The Great Escape by Suzanne Rock
Gianni loves dominating Sienna during her sessions at the Ecstasy Spa, but when his ex-lover returns and wants in on the action, all three of them uncover a bond that forces them change their views about love.
Through My Window by Jayne Rylon
What happens when a sex worker fall in love with a client but doesn't plan to quit her job? 
Rocked by Cari Quinn and Taryn Elliott
Love definitely wasn't on the setlist.
Their Virgin Secretary cover

Sexy and Sweet Summer Reads – eBook – limited time only!
InkHeart Authors Box Set
KindleBarnes and NobleiBooksKobo

Falling Into Forever by Elena Aitken
Secrets cause Kari to run, Rhys is determined to catch her, can she find the courage to trust again? 
A Daughter’s Place by CJ Carmichael
For the sake of her child, a single mother must face the father who disowned her, the ex-boyfriend who hurt her and the neighbor she's always loved in... 
Tempt Me Cowboy by Megan Crane
Chelsea Collier is a good girl schoolteacher who’s never done a bad thing in her life, but bad boy newcomer Jasper Flint is definitely a bad thing worth doing… 
His for the Weekend by Janelle Denison
After nine years apart, one forbidden kiss between past lovers leads to one hot weekend, but when their time together is over, will Rachel walk away from Luke again, or can he convince her to stay and be his forever? 
Unspoken by Lauren Hawkeye
Once, Ellie Kendrick was the only thing that Dominic Gabriel wanted... now she’s back and her version of what happened between them so long ago makes him question everything he knows about himself as a man... 
Weekend with the Tycoon by Kaira Rouda
When wealthy tycoon Blake Putnam invites employee Samantha Jones to a family wedding on Indigo island with no strings attached he knows it’s risky business, but neither of them expects what happens next. 
Sweet Reunion by Melanie Shawn
Sometimes first love deserves a second chance
The Start of Something Good by Renee Vincent writing as Gracie Lee Rose
Who knew Mr. Right lived right next door? 
Where Their Hearts Collide by Zoe York
When the girl next door meets the man of her exactly the wrong time.
Mood of the Month
Reading Reading: Planning to glom on all the 1,001 Dark Nights books in the next few weeks. Also looking forward to the release of Desired by Stacey Kennedy, Dare to Surrender by Carly Phillips, Hot For His Hostage by Angel Payne, and (of course) A View to a Thrill by Lexi Blake.
Listening Listening: I’ve gone on a Daughtry and Snow Patrol kick lately. It’s been awhile, so I’m really enjoying it. Throwing in a bit of Katy Perry into the mix for fun!
Watching Watching: American Ninja Warrior. I admit it. It’s weirdly addicting. So You Think You Can Dance (as I do every summer), along with The Bachelorette. But I’m definitely looking forward to some of the new fall shows. Gotham looks interesting…
Shayla"My thanks to each and every one of you. The enthusiasm and loyalty you’ve shown are priceless. So many of you are fabulous at spreading the word. You enable me to write the books I love,
I can never thank you enough. Have a great month!"

Buy Shayla Black: Kindle | Kindle UK | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | All Romance | Smashwords
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Whats new with Elizabeth Hoyt

July 2014
Find Elizabeth on
Gentle Reader,
First of all, TA-DA: the first scene of Darling Beast for your reading pleasure! I just turned in the galleys for the book which means we’re on track for release on October 14th. If you’d like to get an alert notice in your inbox on the day of the book’s release, sign up for my The Book is Out! newsblast.
Now for some slightly less fun news: my publisher is Hachette and at the moment Hachette and Amazon are squabbling. Amazon has decided to take down the pre-order links on all Hachette books for Kindle. I’m holding out hope that by the time Darling Beast is released all this will be resolved, but for the moment you can’t pre-order the book for Kindle. You can pre-order Darling Beast in all other ebook formats and you can pre-order it in paperback on Amazon and every other book retailer. You can also buy all my other books on Kindle—it’s just the pre-order books that are affected. I’m sincerely sorry for this situation. I’ll be sure to post to Facebook, Twitter, my website, and in this newsletter to let you know when things are back to normal.
Finally, I’m ending on a happy note with the announcement of Phoebe and Trevillion’s book title: Dearest Rogue will be out late spring 2015…which means I’d better get writing!
Yours Most Sincerely,

APRIL 1741
As the mother of a seven-year-old boy, Lily Stump was used to odd topics of conversation. There was the debate on whether fish wore clothes. The deep and insightful discussion over where sugared plums came from and the subsequent lecture on why little boys were not allowed to break their fast with them every day. And, of course, the infamous controversy of Why Dogs Bark But Cats Do Not.
So truly it wasn’t Lily’s fault that she did not pay heed to her son’s announcement at luncheon that there was a monster in the garden.
“Indio,” Lily said with only a tiny bit of exasperation, “must you wipe your jammy fingers on Daffodil? I can’t think she likes it.”
Sadly, this was a blatant lie. Daffodil, a very young and very silly red Italian greyhound with a white blaze on her chest, was already happily twisting her slim body in a circle in order to lick the sticky patch on her back.
“Mama,” Indio said with great patience as he put down his bread and jam, “didn’t you hear me? There’s a monster in the garden.” He was kneeling on his chair and now he leaned forward over the table to emphasize his words, a lock of his dark curly hair falling into his right, blue, eye. Indio’s other eye was green, which some found disconcerting, although Lily had long ago grown used to the disparity.
“Did he have horns?” the third member of their little family asked very seriously.
“Maude!” Lily hissed.
Maude Ellis plonked a plate of cheese down on their only-slightly-singed table and set her hands on her skinny hips. Maude had seen five decades and despite her tiny stature—she only just came to Lily’s shoulder—she never shied away from speaking her mind. “Well, and mightn’t it be the Devil he saw?”
Lily narrowed her eyes in warning—Indio was prone to rather alarming nightmares and this conversation didn’t seem the best idea. “Indio did not see the Devil—or a monster, for that matter.”
“I did,” Indio said. “But he hasn’t horns. He has shoulders as big as this.” And he demonstrated by throwing his arms as far apart as he could, nearly knocking his bowl of carrot soup to the floor in the process.
Lily caught the bowl deftly—much to the disappointment of Daffodil. “Do eat your soup, please, Indio, before it ends on the floor.”
“’Tisn’t a dunnie, then,” Maude said decisively as she took her own chair. “Quite small they are, ’cepting when they turn to a horse. Did it turn to a horse, deary?”
“No, Maude.” Indio shoved a big spoonful of soup into his mouth and then regrettably continued talking. “He looks like a man, but bigger and scarier. His hands are as big as…as…” Indio’s little brows drew together as he tried to think of an appropriate simile.
“Your head,” Lily supplied helpfully. “A tricorn hat. A leg of lamb. Daffodil.”
Daffodil barked at her name and spun in a happy circle.
“Was he dripping wet or all over green?” Maude demanded.
Lily sighed and watched as Indio attempted to describe his monster and Maude attempted to identify it from her long list of fairies, hobgoblins, and imaginary beasts. Maude had grown up in the north of England and apparently spent her formative years memorizing the most ghastly folktales. Lily herself had heard these stories from Maude when she was young—resulting in quite a few torturous nights. She was endeavoring—mostly without success—to keep Maude from imparting the same stories to Indio.
Her gaze drifted around the rather decrepit room they’d moved into just yesterday afternoon. A small fireplace was on one charred wall. Maude’s bed and her chest were pushed against another. Their table and four chairs were in the middle of the room. A tiny writing table and a rickety dark-plum settee were near the hearth. To the side, a door led into a small room—a former dressing room—where Lily had her own bed and Indio his cot. These two rooms were all that remained of the backstage in what had once been a grand theater at Harte’s Folly. The theater—and indeed the entire pleasure garden—had burned down the autumn before. The stink of smoke still lingered about the place like a ghost, though the majority of the wreckage had been hauled away.
Lily shivered. Perhaps the gloominess of the place was making Indio imagine monsters.
Indio swallowed a big bite of his bread and jam. “He has shaggy hair and he lives in the garden. Daff’s seen him, too.”
Both Lily and Maude glanced at the little greyhound. Daffodil was sitting by Indio’s chair, chewing on a back paw. As they watched she overbalanced and rolled onto her back.
“Perhaps Daffodil ate something that disagreed with her tummy,” Lily said diplomatically, “and the tummy ache made her think she’d seen a monster. I haven’t seen a monster in the garden and neither has Maude.”
“Well, there were that wherryman with the big nose, hanging about the dock suspicious-like yesterday,” Maude muttered. Lily shot her a look and Maude hastily added, “Er, but no, never seen a real monster. Just wherrymen with big noses.”
Indio considered that bit of information. “My monster has a big nose.” His mismatched eyes widened as he looked up excitedly. “And a hook. Per’aps he cuts children into little bits with his hook and eats them!”
“Indio!” Lily exclaimed. “That’s quite enough.”
“But Mama—”
“No. Now why don’t we discuss fish clothing or…or how to teach Daffodil to sit up and beg?”
Indio sighed gustily. “Yes, Mama.” He slumped, the very picture of dejection, and Lily couldn’t help but think that he’d someday make a fine dramatic actor. She darted a pleading glance at Maude.
But Maude only shook her head and bent to her own soup.
Lily cleared her throat. “I’m sure Daffodil would benefit from training,” she said a little desperately.
“I suppose.” Indio swallowed the last spoonful of his soup and clutched his bread in his hand. He looked at Lily with big eyes. “May I leave the table, please, Mama?”
“Oh, very well.”
In a flurry he tumbled from his chair and ran toward the door. Daffodil scampered behind him, barking.
“Don’t go near the pond!” Lily called.
The door to the garden banged shut.
Lily winced and looked at the older woman. “That didn’t go well, did it?”
Maude shrugged. “Mayhap could’ve been better, but the lad is a sensitive one, he is. So were you at that age.”
“Was I?”
Maude had been her nursemaid—and rather more, truth be told. She might be superstitious, but Lily trusted Maude implicitly when it came to the rearing of children. And a good thing, too, since she’d been left to raise Indio alone. “Should I go after him, do you think?”
“Aye, in a bit. No point now. Give him a fair while to calm himself.” Maude jerked her pointed chin at Lily’s bowl. “Best get that inside you, hinney.”
The corner of Lily’s mouth curled at the old endearment. “I wish I could’ve found us somewhere else to stay. Somewhere not so…” She hesitated, loath to give the ruined pleasure garden’s atmosphere a name.
“Uncanny,” Maude said promptly, having no such trouble herself. “All them burnt trees and falling-down buildings and not a soul about for miles in the nights. I place a wee bag of garlic and sage under my pillow every night, I do, and you ought as well.”
“Mmm,” Lily murmured noncommittally. She wasn’t sure she wanted to wake up to the reek of garlic and sage. “At least the workmen are about during the day.”
“And a right scruffy bunch, the lot of them,” Maude said stoutly. “Don’t know where Mr. Harte got these so-called gardeners, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he found them in the street. Or worse”—she leaned forward to whisper hoarsely—“got them off a ship from Ireland.”
“Oh, Maude,” Lily chided gently. “I don’t know why you have this dislike of the Irish—they’re just looking for work like anyone else.”
Maude snorted as she vigorously buttered a slice of bread.
“Besides,” Lily said hastily, “we’re only here until Mr. Harte produces a new play with a part for me.”
“And where would he be doing that?” Maude asked, glancing at the charred beams over their heads. “He’ll need a new theater first, and a garden to put it in afore that. It’ll be at least a year—more, most like.”
Lily winced and opened her mouth, but Maude had gotten the bit between her teeth. She shook her piece of bread at Lily, showering crumbs on the table. “Never trusted that man, not me. Too charming and chatty by half. Mr. Harte could sweet-talk a bird down from a tree, into the palm of his hand, and right into the oven, he could. Or”—she slapped a last daub of butter on the bread—“talk an actress with all of London at her feet to come play in his theater—and only his theater.”
“Well, to be fair, Mr. Harte wasn’t to know his pleasure garden and the theater would burn to the ground at the time.”
“Nay, but he did know it’d put Mr. Sherwood’s back up.” Maude bit into her bread for emphasis.
Lily wrinkled her nose at the memory. Mr. Sherwood, the proprietor of the King’s Theatre and her former employer, was a rather vindictive man. He’d promised Lily that he’d make sure she’d not find work anywhere else in London if she went with Mr. Harte and his offer of twice the salary Mr. Sherwood had been paying her.
That hadn’t been a problem until Harte’s Folly had burned, at which point Lily had found that Mr. Sherwood had made good on his promise: all the other theaters in London refused to let her play for them.
Now, after being out of work for over six months, she’d gone through what few savings she’d had, forcing her little family to vacate their stylish rented rooms.
“At least Mr. Harte let us stay here free of charge?” Lily offered rather feebly.
Fortunately, Maude’s reply was nonverbal since she’d just taken a bite of the soup.
“Yes, well, I really ought to go after Indio,” Lily said, rising.
“And what of your luncheon, then?” Maude demanded, nodding at Lily’s half-finished soup.
“I’ll have it later.” Lily bit her lip. “I hate it when he’s upset.”
“You coddle the boy,” Maude sniffed, but Lily noticed the older woman didn’t make any further protest.
Lily hid a smile. If anyone coddled Indio it was Maude herself. “I’ll be back in a bit.”
Maude waved a hand as Lily turned to the door to the outside. The door screeched horribly as she pulled it open. One of the hinges was cracked from the heat of the fire and it hung askew. Outside, the day was overcast. Deep-gray clouds promised more rain and the wind whipped across the blackened ground. Lily shivered and wrapped her arms around herself. She should’ve brought her shawl.
“Indio!” Her shout was thinned by the wind.
Helplessly she looked around. What had once been an elegant pleasure garden had been reduced to sooty mud by the fire and the spring rains. The hedges that had outlined graveled walks were burnt and mostly dead, meandering away into the distance. To the left were the remains of the stone courtyard and boxes where musicians had played for guests: a line of broken pillars, supporting nothing but sky. To the right a copse of straggling trees stood with a bit of mirrored water peeking out from behind—what was left of an ornamental pond, now clogged with silt. Here and there green poked out among the gray and black, but she had to admit that, especially on an overcast day like this one, with wisps of fog slinking along the ground, the garden was ominous and rather frightening.
Lily grimaced. She should’ve never let Indio out to play by himself, but it was hard to keep an active young boy inside. She started down one of the paths, slipping a bit in the mud, wishing she’d stopped to put on her pattens before coming outside. If she didn’t see her son soon, she’d ruin the frivolous embroidered slippers on her feet.
She rounded what once had been a small thicket of trimmed trees. Now the blackened branches rattled in the wind. “Indio!”
A grunt came from the thicket.
Lily stopped dead.
There it was again—almost an explosive snort. The noise was too loud, too deep for Indio. It almost sounded like…a big animal.
She glanced quickly around, but she was completely alone. Should she return to the ruined theater for Maude? But Indio was out here!
Another grunt, this one louder. A rustle.
Something was breathing heavily in the bushes.
Good Lord. Lily bunched her skirts in her fists in case she had to leg it, and crept forward.
A groan and a low, rumbling sound.
Like growling.
She gulped and peeked around a burned trunk.
At first what she saw looked like an enormous, moving, mud-covered mound, and then it straightened, revealing an endlessly broad back, huge shoulders, and a shaggy head.
Lily couldn’t help it. She made a noise that was perilously close to a squeak.
The thing whirled—much faster than anything that big had a right to move—and a horrible, soot-stained face glared at her, one paw raised as if to strike her.
In it was a wickedly sharp, hooked knife.
Lily gulped. If she lived through the day she was going to have to apologize to Indio.
For there was a monster in the garden.

July 23-26
RWA Annual Conference
San Antonio, TX

Darling Beast
Book 7 in the MAIDEN LANE series

Life's Too Frantic

So I haven't been around to blog since late November early December, I hope you all are doing well. I am keeping busy wi...