Launch day: Razor Rocks

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The newest Lei Crime novel launches today! Enjoy this sample and then buy it as an e-book from your preferred e-tailer.

By Toby Neal

Detective Sergeant Leilani Texeira clutched the dashboard of her partner Pono’s jacked up purple truck, affectionately nicknamed Stanley. “Can you slow down?” 

“No.” Pono changed gears. The cop light on the dash strobing, Stanley roared forward even faster as they zoomed down Highway 30 toward Ma`alaea Harbor, whipping around a line of rental cars. 

Lei shut her eyes. “Bruddah. Getting killed on the way to the harbor won’t find your cousin any faster, and besides, if we get in a wreck, Tiare will kill us both.” 

Pono’s formidably competent wife, Tiare, was not to be messed with. Her partner’s big brown hand tightened on the chrome skull that marked Stanley’s shifter, but he eased up on the gas pedal.

Lei sat back in her seat. “I know this is hard—but whatever’s happened has already happened. You gotta stay objective about the case, or Captain Omura will pull you off of it.”

Pono scowled, his pidgin thickening. “It’s my cuz. Not jus’ any kine cuz—dis my uncle’s oldest boy Chaz Kaihale. We been close since small kid time.”

“I know. Chaz is good people.” Lei touched Pono’s tense bicep, her fingers lightly brushing the slash of a scar where a tribal tattoo of interlocking triangles had been torn by a meth dealer’s bullet. She’d been so terrified when the man who was her brother in everything but name had been shot . . . “Tell me again what you know. Let’s get a plan before we meet with the Coast Guard.”

Pono blew out a breath and put both hands back on the wheel. The truck slowed to a reasonable rate at last. “Chaz called me from sea. Remember, he’s a captain and goes out with a couple of guys to crew luxury boats for Dream Vacations Luxury Yachts. Anyway, I wen get one call from him yesterday; he stay yelling. ‘Pono! You gotta help us! Get pirates coming!’ and then damn if the phone didn’t cut off.” Pono flexed his fingers. “Ho, I was laughing. I thought Chaz was pranking me cuz it was April first! But when I tried to call back, the call nevah go through. So I’m thinking, eh, he pranked me, but even with the satellite phone, half the time his calls get cut off.” Pono glanced over at Lei. Even with his favorite Oakleys hiding his eyes, she felt his pain. “Turns out, the call was legit.”

“You couldn’t have known! I mean, it was April Fools’ Day!” Drifts of wayward curls, whipping in the breeze from the partly open window, lashed Lei’s face. She bundled her hair back with a rubber band she spotted encircling the gearshift. 

“I should have tried harder to find out what was going on. Chaz, he one prankster, but I should have called the ship-to-shore radio at least . . . anyway, I did nothing. Then, just now, I get a call from that Coast Guard guy we worked that Molokini case with—Aina Thomas. Remember him? He called my cell, telling me they found the yacht my cuz was captaining washed up on the reef off Lana`i. No one on board, but get bloodstains.” Pono speeded up again.

“No, Pono, no . . .” Lei’s stomach lurched under the sensible black polo shirt she wore with jeans and athletic shoes. “You didn’t tell me anything but ‘go get in the car, we got a case involving my cuz.’ This is big, if it’s pirates. If it’s murder.”

“I know.”

“Are you sure Thomas was calling you as an investigator? Maybe he was calling you as a witness, because you and Chaz are close. He found your name listed somewhere in Chaz’s phone or something.”

Pono’s mouth just tightened, and Lei had her answer—Pono wasn’t thinking right now.

Lei needed to take charge. She dug a Maui Police Department ball cap out of the backpack, loaded with investigation paraphernalia, resting at her feet. She tugged the cap down low and tight on her head, and took out her phone. “I’ll call Captain Omura and brief her with what we know. And let me take the lead when we talk to Thomas. We got dis, partner.”

Razor Rocks

Paradise is plundered by pirates. Someone is attacking and robbing luxury yachts as they sail the Hawaiian Islands—their passengers missing and presumed dead.

Sergeant Lei Texeira, with her typical leap first, look later style, dives into a case with the Coast Guard to find answers that lie as deep as Davy Jones’ locker.

Lei is back, solving crime again! Grab this fast-paced mystery with a twist of romance, and take a trip to Hawaii with the series that’s sold more than a million copies!

Get this thrilling new e-book from:

Toby Neal

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Thursday teaser: Lee

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Contemporary romance

Lee: Lucian & Lia book 6 romantic erotica

By Sydney Landon

“So how many exactly have there been since I left?  Assistants, I mean,” I add quickly.  I certainly have no desire to hear about the number of women warming his bed.  He probably can’t count that high. 

“A few,” he says vaguely.  “No one has any type of work ethic anymore.  And the few who managed to show up on time couldn’t take direction if you stapled a detailed list to their damn forehead.  Do you know that I asked one of them for the Camden file, and she came into my office with a purse the size of the Grand Canyon and dumped it out on my floor?  When she started crawling around down there going through the debris, I asked her what she was doing and she said that she didn’t know what name brand her nail file was, but she figured it would do the job.” 

I can’t help it.  I laugh until tears are rolling down my face.  I can so easily imagine Lee’s expression when that happened.  “That’s hilarious,” I manage to croak out as he shakes his head at me.  When I get myself under control, I ask, “So I take it that she didn’t make it long after that?” 

“Hell no,” he grunts.  “As soon as she put all that shit back into her bag, I had HR inform her that her services were no longer needed.  I was half afraid that she’d find that damn nail file and stab me with it, but according to Pete, who was close by, she actually hummed on her way out.” 

“She was probably thrilled to get away from you,” I joke.  Lee wasn’t an easy man to work for, especially if you couldn’t read his mind.  Luckily, we connected from the beginning, and it had never really been a problem for me. 

“I just want people to do what I pay them for,” he states, making no apologies.  And why should he?  Yes, he can be a bit abrupt, but he works just as hard, if not harder, than anyone there.  Plus, the pay scale at Falco is far better than most businesses in North Carolina. 

“I agree with you,” I say softly.  Then as quickly as the moment of familiarity that only comes from working together is there, it’s gone, and I’m on edge once again.  I want to know why he’s here, yet I’m terrified to ask.  But this strange impasse that we’re at must end, and he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to do it.  Therefore, it’s up to me.  So, squaring my shoulders, I ask point-blank, “Why are you really here, Lee?  You and I both know this is completely out of character for you.” 

He smirks for a moment, then inclines his head to acknowledge the truth of my words.  “I’d like you to come back to work.  Seeing as you’re currently unemployed, it shouldn’t be a problem.  You can start in the morning.  Kara will be more than happy to turn everything back over to you.” 

I gape at him in shock.  “I—er… what?” I manage to get out.  He’s completely unruffled, while my hands twist in my lap as I try to decide if he’s joking or not.  Since when have you known him to joke?  It’s time to make that run for the door. 

He gets to his feet abruptly as if everything has been decided.  “I’ll see you at the usual time tomorrow.”  When I open my mouth to protest, he adds softly, “Don’t even think about not showing up.  Because if you aren’t there, the first place I’ll look is Hunter Wrenn’s home, and I know you don’t want that.”  My vision blurs as I stare at his retreating back.  For the second time that day, the front door is slammed as another angry person leaves.  “Oh, my God,” I whisper as I collapse in my chair.  He knows.  Dear God, he knows!  The voice in my head is in full panic mode, but outwardly, I’ve fallen into some kind of weird trance-like state. 

About Lee, the spicy romance

Romantic erotica

My name is Lee Jacks and I’ve lived a life that few could imagine. When you grow up as the son of a crack whore with little more than the clothes on your back most days being accepted by your peers is the last thing you expect. I was always an outcast which was fine by me. It’s what kept my brother and me alive. Survival is something that isn’t taught in public schools, but it damn well should be.

But I’m no longer a gutter rat to be kicked aside like yesterday’s trash. I’m a sought-after member of the Asheville, North Carolina elite and invited to parties given by the upper crust of society.

The one thing I never counted on was falling in love with my assistant Liza. In one of my few selfless acts, I refused to bring her into my corrupt world. When she quits her job, and walks away from me, I soon discover that I never really knew her at all. For she has secrets of her own and one of them could very well be the need to destroy me.

Graphic content warning: This romantic erotica novel contains depictions of violence, sexual abuse and child abuse.

Get it on

Sydney Landon

is the New York Times & USA Today best selling author of:  Weekends Required, Not Planning on You, Fall For Me, Fighting For You, Betting on You, No Denying You, Always Loving You, Pierced and Fractured.  Sydney is currently working on the next book in the Danvers’ Series as well as the Pierced Series.

When she isn’t writing romantic erotica or romance, Sydney enjoys reading, swimming and the beach.

She lives with her family in Greenville, South Carolina.

Get to know more about Sydney:

Her BestSelling Reads author page   |    Website    |    Amazon Author page    |    Barnes & Noble    |    Kobo    |    Google Play    |    iBooks

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What are Reviews?

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Thursday teaser from Book Review Secrets for Author Success

By Barb Drozdowich

A book review can run the spectrum of a few words to several pages of critique.

Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to characterize and perhaps this is why many readers are so intimidated at the thought of leaving a review for a book they have read—they imagine it to be a much bigger deal than it actually is.

Or…perhaps readers are having flashbacks to high school English class and don’t want to go there…

Regardless, we as authors need to not only get better at characterizing what a review is (so we can help our readers understand what we want them to do), but also recognize the need or use of various different types of reviews.

Let’s start with what a review is, throw in some rules and then move on from there.

In its simplest form, a review can be “Great Book!” or “Loved this book.” These words can be accompanied by some stars or other type of rating. As I said, on the other end of the spectrum, a review can be pages of critique on various aspects of the book. These brief, or extensive thoughts, can be sent to you by email, they can be posted on a private blog or website, a commercial blog or website, a social media site or a retail site.

With respect to these reviews, certain commercial platforms like Amazon have rules that reviewers have to follow regarding content and most commercial review-granting organizations have guidelines or expectations posted. 

But for the most part, there are no rules. This isn’t high school English class and the teacher hasn’t just handed out a paper for an assignment.

However, a review can still be: “Great book!”

Perhaps this is the crux of the problem. How are we to help our readers understand what we want them to do unless we can be a bit more concrete?

Let’s divide reviews into professional reviews or commercial reviews and reader reviews, as I’m sure you can agree the standards can be expected to be different.

A reader review is the chance for a reader to share their thoughts about what they thought of a book. Keep in mind, this is something that readers have always done—even before the creation of Amazon—we would chat with fellow book lovers. In my mind, there is nothing better than chatting about the latest book I’ve read. I know that urge to shout to the world about a really good book was one of the driving forces behind my book blog creation.

Since the advent of the internet, reader reviews, which were once an in-person activity, have also moved to online. Not only can readers leave reviews on their (or other’s) blogs or websites, but readers are encouraged to leave reviews of books purchased from any of the book retail sites—and will likely get a reminder email from the retailer to do so. In addition, there are various social media sites like Goodreads which encourage readers to list and review books.

Several years ago I was at a conference and a presenter on the subject of reviews said that “reviews” which occur before a book is published are reviews for the author; “reviews” that occur after the book is published are for readers. I initially tried to push back on that thought, but the more I mulled it over, the more I realized how correct it was. As authors we generally see pre-publication reviews as critiques, but they are generally devices to help us improve—to polish our book before it is published. Once published, the book is available for purchase by readers; any one of those readers has the ability to share their thoughts.

We don’t qualify who can and can’t purchase our books. They are available for sale to anyone who has enough money to pay for them. In a similar vein, we can’t control the reviews that are shared about our books. It is true that some people go out of their way to be unkind in their thoughts when reviewing, but in my experience the majority of reader reviews are honest and forthright. In many cases, reader reviews can be quite helpful to us as authors. 

A short story before we move on from this topic. One of the first books I published was on the topic of Goodreads, a reader-centric social website. I was determined to explain to authors how to navigate this rabbit’s warren of a site and take advantage of its powerful features. To help with the navigation of the site, I carefully created 250 color screenshots and other graphics to include in my book in order to help with my step-by-step instructions of “click on the blue button,” etc. I tested the e-book on my 27-inch computer and it looked beautiful! One of the very first reviews I received was very critical and complained that the graphics were too small to be seen on a smart phone screen. My first thought was “why the hell are you reading this book on your phone?” Of course the graphics are small on a tiny phone screen. Trying to be helpful, I replied to the review and suggested the reviewer view the book on a larger screen, perhaps a desktop computer. I was told the only electronic device she owned was a smart phone—she did everything from her phone.

Although I didn’t like this review, it was justified and I learned from it. The next edition of the Goodreads book had links to a video course and the screenshots and other graphics were gone. 

I am the type of person who reads most reviews—especially at the beginning. I find I learn from them. That being said, if you are the type of personality that is easily thrown off by comments from readers, don’t read them.

Let’s move on to professional or commercial reviews—or perhaps we should call these “non-reader” reviews. 

This is a big category and what fits in here can be open to interpretation. To add come clarity, let me define what I mean by “professional or commercial” reviews.

A professional or commercial review, whether it is something the author seeks out or not, is a review that is written by an experienced person generally following a stated set of guidelines.

As I mentioned, the reviewer is typically experienced, and may have an educational or experiential background in reviewing books. An example of this would be a book reviewer for a major newspaper or literary publication. The reviewer may be a person who is well versed in the genre of the book, or an expert in the field if the book is non-fiction. An example of this is a peer review in an industry publication for a non-fiction book.

Focusing on a commercial review—or a review that an author pays for—these reviews, generally speaking, are carried out by an experienced reviewer and follow a stated set of guidelines. Or in other words, if you purchase a review, you should be aware of what may or may not be said and what may or may not be shared publicly. We’ll go into details in a future chapter, but authors should have access to an FAQ of sorts about what they are paying for and if the review is not favorable, they may have the option of preventing the review from being made public.

As I said at the beginning of this chapter, although a review can run the gamut of a few words to several pages of critique, when talking about a professional or commercial review, they are unlikely to be only several words and are much more likely to be at least several paragraphs in length or longer. 

Are you any closer to understanding what a review is? Can you describe a review to your readers when you ask them to share some thoughts? Ultimately, it is part of our job as authors to ask our readers to leave a review. Before moving on to the next chapter, perhaps take a few moments and jot down a blurb asking for a review that you can put in the back matter of your next book!

Book Review Secrets for Author Success

Feel like it’s impossible to get more reviews for your book? Discover a comprehensive guide to every single review gathering method in publishing.

No idea where to start to get reviews for your book? Worried about hiring a professional service or contacting blogs to get those five-star marks? Award-winning author and professional reviewer Barb Drozdowich knows reviews inside and out. As the owner of the world’s largest reviewer database, let her break down the complex and confusing world of author testimonials to help you get the feedback you need to make your book a success.

Book Reviews for Author Success is a step-by-step handbook that describes all possible methods for getting more reviews for your work. From contacting literary and commercial services to bloggers and readers, Drozdowich’s conversational style demystifies the jargon in her laundry list of strategies. Intended to educate authors of all levels, the book leaves no stone unturned in the quest for your first or thousandth review.

In Book Reviews for Author Success , you’ll discover:

  • The rules and guidelines authors must use to earn professional reviews
  • A list of every type of review and how to start getting them
  • The power of social proof and why authors must seek testimonials
  • Practical exercises to help you better understand review gathering
  • A full glossary, pages and pages of extensive resources, and much, much more!

Book Reviews for Author Success is a packed, professional reference for any author looking to generate reviews. If you like easy-to-follow systems, complex subjects taught in plain English, and expert advice from key players, then you’ll love Barb Drozdowich’s superb manual.

Find it on Amazon.

About Barb Drozdowich

Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. Now she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She delights in taking technical subjects and making them understandable by the average person. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about romance novels.

She is the author of 15 books, over 40 YouTube videos an online Goodreads course and an online WordPress course, all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

Visit her Bestselling Reads author page, her Amazon Author page, or on social media:

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Tuesday teaser: Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

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We know, it’s not Thursday, but we’re excited about the launch today of a brand-new time-travelling paranormal romance

By Samreen Ahsan

“I asked you, Edward, have you ever had a dream?” He looked me in the eye, examining my every expression.

I sank deeper in the velvet armchair and leaned against the backrest to look up at the ceiling. “Dreams are illusive fantasies. They never come true.” I looked back at him.

He didn’t take his deadly eyes off me. “So, you have fantasies?”

“You called to interrogate me?” I asked, irritated.

He chuckled and picked up the book. “I can assure you, dreams do come true.” He opened the book and handed it to me. I looked at the book carefully; the first illuminated parchment grabbed my attention. The book was written in Latin, but I knew it was the translation of Roman de la Rose (Romance of the Rose) by Guillaume de Lorris, a French poet who had existed almost two hundred years ago. I had seen this book back when I’d been a child. I knew it had been given to my father—a gift from an English poet I had once met in my childhood.

I focused on the image, a man lying on the bed, traversing into a dream. The image was surrounded with a text and decorated initials.

“Many men say that there is nothing in dreams but fables and lies,” he watched me as he read the verses. It seemed like he had memorized it. “But many may have dreams which are not deceitful, whose import becomes quite clear afterward.”

I regarded him with a sour expression. What was he trying to imply? That he had some stupid dream, which held some significance in his life? I looked back at the parchment and focused on what he was saying before I closed the book and placed it back on the table. I didn’t want to go down this road with him.

“What is the hurry, son? Don’t you fancy a drink with your old man?” he snickered and handed me a drink in a crystal goblet. He had never spoken to me like this—in a father-son way. It had always been a king and his descendant. I took a sip and looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Do you know why I have called you here, Edward?” he asked, drink in his hand while he blew another puff. I waited for him to continue. “Remember I told you how hazardous a beautiful woman is?” I held my breath tightly. I had a feeling this was not going in a good direction. “She could poison our lives.” I bridled my wandering thoughts. “But…”

He stood up and walked about the darkened room. My eyes followed his haughty poise. There was something on the tip of his tongue he wanted to spill, but I didn’t know why he paused.

“But sometimes… a woman can change perspectives too.” He was walking back and forth. When he went towards his bed, I noticed his mirror was missing. Had he moved it somewhere else? He stopped walking and sat back in his chair. I looked at him, waiting for him to elaborate. “Don’t be so indifferent, son, that you don’t know what I’m talking about!”

I averted my eyes and looked towards the missing mirror, followed by the door that led to the secret spring.

“The woman…” he lit another cigar and looked at me, “that you call your captive,” he took a deep puff, “I’m trying to understand who the captive is and who the captor is here.” I threw daggers at him but held my tongue tightly. Anything I’d speak might go against her or me.

“From what I see, you didn’t even ask once if she was a peasant and you invited her to the royal table.” I moved forward while clasping my hands on my knees. “So, get to the point.”

He reciprocated my act by moving forward as well to look me in the eye.

“Didn’t you notice her?” God knew how much I noticed that woman so closely. “She is here…” he moved back and spread his arms, “in this cursed castle,” he shook his head, “and still the flowers in her hair didn’t wither.” He was completely drunk in his fascination for her. “Do you honestly think she was peasantry?” He looked agitated. “The silk she wore, and besides, do you think peasant blood is capable of bringing flowers inside this castle?” There was nothing I could say. I’d have to stick to the lies to protect her. “She is no ordinary woman, Edward.” He looked me in the eye. “The flowers on her didn’t wither. Do you know what this means?” I sod inside but tried to curb my temper. He was completely struck by her powers.

“She is a witch?” I asked hesitantly.

Once Upon a [Fallen] Time

Samreen Ahsan continues the saga that began in Once Upon a [Stolen] Time.

In Once Upon a [Fallen] Time, the past and future collide in the tale of love, obsession, betrayal and the hope for redemption.

The tortured Edward Hue, the last king in the cursed dynasty, is in deeper anguish over the woman he loves when he discovers which woman his father has chosen for him to marry.

It is available on Amazon today, May 21.

“The author’s style is magical in itself as she sets the past and present onto a direct collision course. 5-stars!”—Tome Tender Book Blog.

Once Upon a [Stolen] Time

2015…

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

Find it on Amazon.

About Samreen Ahsan

History, art and literature are my passions. I love digging out information about prophecies, divine miracles and paranormal events that are mentioned in history and holy books, that don’t sound possible in today’s modern world.

Since childhood, I have been into reading and writing—and yes, it can’t happen without imagination, which luckily has no boundaries. Dance and music are also pastimes I enjoy, as well as reading romance fiction. I love to travel and explore historical cities.

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