Friday, 22 July 2016

REVIEW & INTERVIEW - RECOIL - RECOIL TRILOGY BY JOANNE MACGREGOR

Title: Recoil
Author: Recoil Trilogy
Series: Joanne Macgregor
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Release Date: 14th May 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
When a skilled gamer gets recruited as a sniper in the war against a terrorist-produced pandemic, she discovers there’s more than one enemy and more than one war. The Game is real.

Three years after a series of terrorist attacks flooded the US with a lethal plague, society has changed radically. 

Sixteen year-old Jinxy James spends her days trapped at home – immersed in virtual reality, worrying about the plague and longing for freedom. Then she wins a war simulation game and is recruited into a top-secret organisation where talented teenagers are trained to become agents in the war on terror. Eager to escape her mother’s over-protectiveness and to serve her country, Jinxy enlists and becomes an expert sniper of infected mutant rats.

She’s immediately drawn to Quinn O’Riley, a charming and subversive intelligence analyst who knows more about the new order of government and society than he is telling. Then a shocking revelation forces Jinxy to make an impossible decision, and she risks losing everything.


PURCHASE LINKS

INITIAL THOUGHTS
The Blurb made me instantly curious to know more about the game that teaches the skills need to become a sniper.. Jinxy is what you'd have to call a prolific, highly addicted gamer, who goes without food and drink to have more gaming time.

THOUGHTS WHILST READING
3%   So Jinxy has finally won......the ultimate gamer experience.
18%   So what does Sarge mean with the comment he mutters under his breath? . .
22%   Jinx is out from being stuck at home, in ASTA training to ....well she isn't sure yet. she also now has two admirers, the unwelcome attentions of Bruce and the more welcome attention n flirtation from Quinn

61%   What was in Let's text? Why is Quinn so against the snipers?"

REVIEW
The cover features a close up of a female with piercing blue eyes that in my opinion has to be Jinxy Emma James. The face has what I would describe as a shocked, stunned, maybe even scared look, which also encourages you to be inquisitive about who she is, what her life is like etc. I love the font style of the book title and author name. The way the O in Recoil is made into a snipers cross hairs on a gun is brilliant.There is also a by line on this book which says "The Game Is Real_", it really fits the book very well. (You'll know what I mean when you read the book) I also like the font of the byline which is in what I can only describe as "computer style"  So would the cover make me pick this book up from a book store shelf? Yes, those eyes make you want to learn more,
I have already mentioned the name of the main character Jinxy James, but now I'll share a little about her. Jinxy is 16 years old, has piercing blue eyes and blonde hair with bright cobalt streaks in her hair. Jinx was the last one to be born of the twins, yet I think in the book she comes across as though she is the older sibling, feeling protective over her brother.. Jinx lives at home with her mother, Marion, and her identical twin brother Robin. Her father died some time ago and their mother never seemed to recover. Their life is a very contained, perhaps monotonous life, sort of trapped in her own house. The main reason for this quite reclusive lifestyle is due to a virus. To be totally honest, this book is not as far fetched and futuristic as you initially think when you are about to begin reading this book. With our present day atrocities and terrorism parts of this book are quite believable. Another more comedic similarity is when Jinxy is flicking through TV channels to try to find something she would like to watch and she has the following thought "442 channels to watch but nothing that catches her interest."
To attempt to control the virus spreading the US has split itself into just three mega sections/sectors, Northeast, the Mid & West and the final one being the South. There are three remote highest security prisons have been re-opened and put back into use. The three resurrected prisons are Guantanamo Bay, Alcatraz, and Florence ADX. This maybe coincidental recurrence number three made me think of the superstition of "bad things come in threes". 
All members of society have to take precautions when outside, they must use (PPE) Personal Protection Equipment, which consist of varying degrees of defense against the virus such as masks, gloves and even disposable suits to go over your clothes and then be thrown away as you go through the whole decontamination pod and procedure.
Jinx enjoys playing the most popular game out at the moment. the game is so popular because there is a way to play it for everyone. Jinxy is heavily addicted to playing the game as a sniper, whereas her brother Robin enjoys playing the game as a programmer.
Jinx has been trying to shoot a particularly skilled, evasive  character in the game called called Jakhill. Jinx has been on this mission to kill Jakhil for a long time, she cuts everything around her off and fully immerses herself into the game not stopping for either food or drink, not even for sweets or chocolate. Without going into detail Jinxy takes that "killer shot" and she. . .wins!! Her prize is to go to Play State HQ to see where the game was made and trialed and along with other winners she will get to play the game and the "ultimate" gamer experience. Now her next difficult task is to get her mum to sign the form to allow her to go visit Play State.
Only when she has the "ultimate experience" she discovers that the game is some kind of recruitment ploy for the government. Once again Jinx is faced by paperwork she needs to get her mother Marion to sign to allow her to continue on this new path. 
This new direction Jinx life has taken gives her the opportunity to have friends and this is where she meets a guy who she really likes called Quinn.
In the training program people are tested on their fitness etc and then separated into teams. 
Sadly for Jinx Quinn is put into Blue Team, whilst Jinx is in Black Team (checkout my opinion of Black Team and their strengths. Upon training they are given divisional badges which make them identifiable to one another as to what they are expert in,  And that's as far as I am going to share with you as to go on, and believe me I could go on and on and on about this book would reveal and spoil things for you reading the book yourselves. 
The book begins at what I would describe as a medium pace, and maintains that as the plot unfolds. There is action, danger, betrayal, suspense, family secrets, government secrets and female characters kicking butt! So I think there's something for everyone in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed, it kept me wanting to read all the way, there were no slow irritating bits at all. There is so much more to learn about, this world, the society, the government etc. This series has loads more potential! This is a book that I could talk and talk about even more. I keep saying to my daughter she must read it, then I can bend her ear about the book and the potential plot twists to come even more!!
Did I I enjoy the book? Simply put Yes!! Would I recommend this book? Definitely, I think it will appear to a wide audience. Whether you love post apocalyptic/dystopian sci-fi or your new to reading these genres I'd recommend this book. Would I want to read another book in this series? Yes please! and it's not so long now until Refuse is released! Would I want to read other titles by this author? Oh yes, I have another one of her titles on my kindle to read as soon as I can get time to.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Wow! lots of danger, action, mystery, secrets, lies and betrayal. Who is telling the real truth and who is hiding behind a facade of lies. Oh and there's a smidgeon of romance too! Ooo and book two is released too soon.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Where did you get your book/book series idea's from? Who/What is your inspiration for the Recoil Trilogy?
A couple of ideas came together to inspire this trilogy. I was watching a documentary about marine snipers, who came across as really detached from the fact that they were taking lives, and I wondered what it would be like to be an excellent marksman, yet hate hurting living things. At the time, the Ebola epidemic was at its height, and so that wound its way into the idea of the plague. In a broader sense, there are some political developments in the world that have me deeply concerned, and so I wanted to explore these in the form of a dystopian.
(As a reader it was a quite thought provoking read ~ Jeanz) 

How did you come up with the Title for your Recoil Trilogy Series?
The title for Recoil came from a comment from one of the US snipers. When asked how he felt when shooting a person, he replied, "Recoil." He meant it literally, of course, but my heroine experiences it figuratively, too. The subsequent book titles Refuse and Rebel just came to me as the natural progression of her character's development.
(Yeah, I did notice the Recoil comment and wonder which came first, the comment or the series title. It is perfect ~ Jeanz)

Who designed the covers for Recoil and Refuse? And have they already designed the cover for bk3?
The covers have been designed by the wonderful Kimberley of "Kim G Design" (her website is here: http://www.kimg-design.com/). The designs are so beautiful and yet incorporate so many elements from the novels - the biohazard bloom, the crosshairs, the coding matrix, the naive heroine with her blue-streaked hair. I can't wait to see what she comes up with for Book 3!

Did you choose the titles for the book/book series first, or did you write the book and then choose the title?
It varies from book to book. Sometimes the title comes first, often (as with Recoil) it comes early in the research phase, but sometimes it comes only later. All of my titles for all of my books have both a literal meaning related to the story of the book, as well as a metaphorical meaning that links to one of the main themes. I enjoy playing around with chapter titles, too. If readers read a chapter and then go back and check the title, it might give them a little smile of recognition. The full meaning of some of the chapter titles only becomes apparent once you've read the whole book, and even the series, when you'll have an "Ah-ha! I see what you did there!" moment.

Do you have a basic outline plot for the whole Recoil Series, or are you letting the writing/plot flow and just seeing where the story goes?
I definitely have an outline - with a plot as complicated as this, I need one! In crafting a trilogy, the writer has to structure the plot and character arcs for each book, as well as for the over-arching series. I think many trilogies suffer from second-book syndrome because the author has thought about the beginning and imagined the final end, but hasn't actually developed a story for the middle book. Also, in this sort of genre, you want to plant clues, twists, red herrings and foreshadowings right from book one, so you have to know where you're going.

Do you basic plot/outline each book in advance or do you create the books as individual books?
Both. I already knew (very roughly) what was happening in my world and where the story was going overall before I began book 1. But before I write each book, I draft a slightly more detailed outline so that the individual book's story is logical and exciting, not merely "filler". Then I think in much more detail about each section just before I write it. And then while I'm actually writing the first draft, new ideas and scenes come, and things change - I allow that creative flow to happen, because generally it's better than what I planned.

Have you ever based characters and character traits on people you know?
All the time! I believe every writer does this, whether consciously or subconsciously. I'm like a magpie - I like to collect shiny words, funny expressions, startling images, telling mannerisms, and curiosity-provoking ideas which I try to write down before I forget them. No one character is based entirely on one single person from real life, but I do blend and incorporate real details into my characters, places and stories. When I heard about Donald Trump's plan for a wall between the USA and Mexico, for example, I just knew that was a detail that had to go into Recoil. 

Is there anything in Recoil, or the Recoil Series you would change now if you could and what would it be?
I wish I had the power to wave my magic wand and turn the series into a bestseller, lol! Otherwise, I'm happy with this story and where it's headed. I spent a lot of time on rewrites and got professional edits, so I'm proud of the writing, too. I'm glad I released the first book only after I'd finished the draft of the second, because it allowed me to go back and change things. When I started Book 3, I went back and changed the ending of book 2, which improves the series as a whole. It's a luxury as a writer to be able to make these changes.
(I'd love it to be made into a Movie or TV Series. Look at Divergent, The Hunger Games etc all started off as fantastic books! ~ Jeanz)

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about your individual titles or series at all?
Readers might be interested in my standalone Young Adult romance, Scarred, which is swoony and angsty and funny all at once. I have another two standalone YA romances coming out next year, so watch this space :)
(I already have it my kindle to read! And I'll certainly be looking at the other titles you write! As well as the Recoil Series of course! ~Jeanz)

Finally could you please provide links to where your reader fans can follow you?
I love to connect with fans and you can find me here:
Twitter:  @JoanneMacg

Pinterest: Joanne Macgregor

Thank-you for taking the time to do this Interview and giving "us" the readers a further insight into the book, series, and your writing process ~ Jeanz


CHARACTER PROFILE'S
(My own thoughts of the characters)
OF THE
THE BLACK TEAM

Jinxy 
 16 year old gamer addict, straining to be released from the confinements of her  home. Always fighting to be the best and analysing how she can do even better. 

Leya
I'd guess at probably older & more life experienced than Jinx. She has a tattoo on her face next to her eye. A gamer but always somewhere around the middling scores, just behind the leaders of the pack Jinx & Bruce but still an important member of the team.

Bruce
Slightly older than Jinx in age but way, way younger in mental attitude! He is arrogant, likes to be the best and tells everyone about it when he is. Not so keen on being second behind Jinx but does accept that Jinx is a great sniper.

Mitch
Hmm more of a background character in this book, yet still an important part of the team. Maybe we will see more of him in bk2.

Tae-Hyun
Also super gamer, quieter, but supportive member of the team. Jinx likes to have him as her spotter and trusts him completely.

Cameron
Also a quiet member of the team. He doesn't show his emotions, yet the way he looks at Leya suggest he may have a crush on her. . or is he watching her for some other reason?

COMING SOON
Title: Refuse
Author: Recoil Trilogy
Series: Joanne Macgregor
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Release Date: 30th July 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
Everyone wants Jinxy, except the one she loves.

In a near-future USA decimated by an incurable plague and tightly controlled by a repressive government, teenagers with special skills are recruited and trained to fight in the war against terror.

Now a rebellion is brewing.

All sixteen year-old expert sniper Jinxy James wanted was a little freedom, but now she’s trapped between the government and the rebels, unsure of who the real enemy is. When she uncovers appalling secrets and twisted motivations, Jinxy begins to question her allegiances. Soon she will need to choose between love and freedom, as she struggles to do the right thing in a world gone horribly wrong.


Goodreads Link

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Well I really wanted to read this one as I finished reading bk1, and that was before seeing the cover of bk2 or even reading the blurb! Now I really cannot wait, I don't want to read Refuse, I need to read it. ~ Jeanz



Thursday, 21 July 2016

BOOK BLITZ - THE STOLEN TWIN BY MICHELE PARIZA WACEK

Title: The Stolen Twin 
Author: Michele Pariza Wacek 
Genres: New Adult, Psychological Thriller
Publication date: November 16th 2015

BLURB supplied by Xpresso Book Tours
On the surface, Kit Caldwell has it all. A senior in college with her future ahead of her, lots of friends, lots of parties…not to mention also having the eye of Tommy, the star quarterback of the football team.
But underneath, Kit’s life is a charade, built on a foundation of secrets and lies, including one so dark it threatens to tear her world apart: her twin sister, Cat, was kidnapped when they were both seven, never to be heard from again.
That is, until one dark Halloween night.
But is it really Cat? Or is it someone else, someone playing a sinister and deadly game?
To save herself from imminent danger, Kit, with the help of Tommy and her friends, is forced to go back in time and confront her own personal demons, as she finally discovers what really happened to Cat, all those years ago.


PURCHASE LINKS
B&N

Wow, this book sounds really good, definitely the type my mum would love. So I think I can safely say it's going on my "To Buy As A Gift List" for my mum! ~Jeanz

How it all began …

Like my character, Kit, I too dreamed of a church several times as a child. (Although my dream didn't end nearly as dramatically as hers did.) My family and I were driving to Milwaukee when we turned off onto a dirt road and ended up at a church.

Even though on the surface, the dream itself didn't seem very memorable, for years it haunted me. In real life when I would run into a similar church, I would immediately think back to that dream.

I never knew what to do with that dream until the day I passed the man pulling a red wagon with a little girl inside.

It was on a sidewalk, not in a field, but there was something about how the man was pulling the wagon and the way the girl was looking around that made me think "gee, would he even notice if I plucked that little girl off the wagon?"

I turned over that idea in my head, a little girl disappearing off of a wagon, and somewhere when I was turning that idea around it slammed into the church dream.

Again, on the surface, those two ideas don't seem to work together at all. But, somehow, they completed each other in all sorts of unexpected ways.


The rest, as they say, is history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly. 

As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life. She became a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional materials for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.

Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (in fact, she just published her first novel, a psychological thriller/suspense/mystery called "The Stolen Twin" and her second novel "Mirror Image'" is set to be published in May 2016) plus, she is also the author of the "Love-Based Copy" books, which are a part of the "Love-Based Business" series and cover both business and personal development. 

She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie.


AUTHOR LINKS

The Story Behind The Story

Why it Took Me 10 Years To Publish 
"The Stolen Twin"

Back in 1998, I quit my job to become a fulltime freelance writer/copywriter.

At the time, there were no coaching, masterminding or mentoring programs that taught you how to set up and run a successful business (or, if there were, I didn't know about them as the Internet was still in its infancy) so I went to the Small Business Association (SBA) and got myself a counselor.

When the counselor learned what my business plans were, he invited a retired freelance writer to come in and give me some tips.

Well, her "tips" turned out to be her trying to talk me out of becoming a freelance writer. For about 45 minutes, the conversation went something like this:

"Being a freelance writer is a really difficult way to earn a living."

"Okay, what should I do?"

"Can you get your job back?"

"No, I can't get my job back."

"Are you sure? It's really difficult to earn a living as a freelance writer."

"Yes, I'm sure I can't get my job back."

"You could work full time at your job and on nights and weekends do freelance work until you have enough work to quit."

"I really can't get my job back."

You get the idea. Finally at the end she said "Okay, I guess I can't talk you out of this so here are a few tips." And she finally gave me those "tips," which I dutifully wrote down.

We were getting read to leave when I decided to chime in and tell her "you know, one of the reasons why I'm so excited to become a freelance writer is because then I'll have time to finally work on my novels."

She got a look of complete horror on her face and said "Oh my God, NEVER tell anyone you're working on fiction. You'll NEVER get any work."

Now, basically this woman was pretty much dead wrong on everything she told me that day. Even her "tips" were basically worthless. But, for some reason, what she told me about the novels stuck. So, I didn't talk about my fiction very much, I especially didn't share about the novel I had written 2002/2003.

If you do have a dream or a creative project that in your heart you know you really want to be working on (what Stephen Covey calls the "important but not urgent") I'd love for you to take a moment and just breathe into what's stopping you. You don't necessarily need to do anything -- just take a moment to see what's keeping you from working on this project.

In my case, I had completely forgotten about this whole exchange until I was getting ready to publish my novel and one of my clients exclaimed "why isn't it we've never heard until now that you're publishing a novel?"

In other words, something I didn't even remember kept me stuck.

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

My life has been dominated by two dreams.

In the first, I see my twin sister Cat at seven, the last time I ever saw her. She is all pink and golden – hair hanging in yellow ringlets, dancing blue eyes, rosy cheeks. She is beautiful, my sister. Light, sweet, charming. My opposite.

My father is pulling her as she sits in a little red wagon, laughing and waving. They’re in a wild, grassy field. Birds are twittering, crickets chirping. A butterfly flits by. Gently swaying grasses and colorful wildflowers brush against her, stroking her soft skin, loving her. She laughs and caresses their long, flowing stems.

But there is more in this field than plants, insects and birds. Fairies live here too – although they usually hide when people walk by with their heavy crushing footsteps, unnatural smells and callous voices. My father, plowing through with bent back and plodding footsteps, sends them cringing and scurrying away as well.

But then they hear the tinkling sound of my sister’s laughter.

Peeking from behind brown-eyed Susan’s and pebbles, they see Cat in the wagon, clutching a dandelion in her fist, rubbing the yellow petals against her face. She astonishes them, seduces them, hypnotizes them. They’ve never seen anything like her before. Gradually, they creep out and move closer. Cat virtually sparkles in the sunlight, bright and shining. As she catches sight of the fairies, she laughs and blows them kisses.

The fairies, now completely under her spell, swarm over to her, nuzzling her face, soft arms, slender neck. She smiles, touching them back – fingers grazing over delicate wings not much more substantial than a cobweb.

More fairies emerge as my father guides her deeper into the field. The grasses become thicker, taller. The fairies cling to the blades, reaching their tiny hands out to caress Cat as she drifts by.

Finally, the queen herself comes forward, tall and majestic. She wears a dress made from white tulips and daffodils, sparkling with dewdrops. Her long, silky, golden hair is entwined with white daisies. Large green eyes peer out from under her mass of hair. Her face is cold, all sharp angles and pale skin, but beautiful.

“This is the one,” the queen says, her voice like breaking glass.

Cat looks up, fairies tangled in her hair. She blinks as her gaze meets that of the queen’s. They stare at each other, each mesmerized by the other. Then, slowly, the queen reaches down and gathers my sister into her arms. The fairies dart out of the way, hovering above them like a cloud of gnats. The queen turns, Cat cuddled in her arms, and they disappear, vanishing into the thick grass.

My father pulls the wagon a few seconds longer before realizing something is wrong. Seeing Cat missing, he drops to the ground and begins searching fruitlessly through the grass. “Cat,” he yells over and over. “Cat, come back. Come back!”

Nothing answers him, not even a chirp from a bird. He cries her name over and over, begging her to come back, while the fairies croon over their newest prize.

My second dream is completely opposite - much like the difference between Cat and me. It begins with me and my parents in the car. We’re going to Milwaukee to visit my grandparents, but suddenly my parents take a detour. We drive down an old country road filled with potholes and thirsty cracks. My chest begins to take on a familiar heaviness.

We’re at a church, a white country church with a tall steeple and an elaborate stained glass etching of Mary and Jesus in the manger. A bell rings, deep and melodious. I’m having trouble breathing.

We walk to the graveyard behind the church, my parents in front of me, talking quietly, ignoring me (as usual). The bell continues to ring, the sound growing louder, echoing in the stillness. I stumble, trying desperately to breathe, to draw air through lungs now shrunken into a tight ball of twine. I need my inhaler, but don’t know where it is.

My parents continue to ignore me. I gasp and start to fall, but now I’m floating, floating, toward the graveyard. All I can hear is the tolling of the bell. I can’t breathe at all. My lungs burn, a bright fireball in my chest. This is it, I realize. This is the end. This is where I die.

I wake then, gasping and reaching for my inhaler. As uncomfortable as it is, I prefer it to the hot tears and heavy sick feeling that follows the fairy dream. Cat is the chosen one. I’m the disappointment.

These were the dreams that dominated my life. If I had other ones, I never remembered them. Only these two. I never told a soul about my dreams – they were my penance, my burden, my personal hell.

Until the day Cat came back, turning my life into something worse than any nightmare I ever could have imagined.



***GIVEAWAY***
This is a Blitz Wide Giveaway
The Prize = A signed copy of Mirror Image and $10 Amazon gift card




Wednesday, 20 July 2016

BLOG TOUR - THE RUBICON INTERNATIONAL SERIES BY ANN GIMPEL

Title: Garen
Series: The Rubicon International
Author: Ann Gimpel
Genre: Shifter, Romantic, Susoense
Release Date: 14th June 2016

BLURB supplied by Bewitching Blog Tours
As an agent for an international espionage firm, Miranda has her hands more than full. Between secretly lusting after her boss, Garen, and making sure the dirty little secret about her double life as a wolf shifter remains hidden, she’s still a virgin at nearly thirty.

Sent to eliminate the head of a human trafficking organization in Amsterdam, she barely escapes with her life. Injured, frightened, and under attack the second her private jet lands in the U.S., she’s not certain where to turn.

Garen’s watched Miranda just as surreptitiously as she’s been eyeing him.

Unfortunately, the fact that she works for him is a showstopper. Plus, he has a few secrets of his own that have kept him single. When Miranda insists on heading up a covert operation, he can’t come up with a plausible reason to stop her. Watching her sprint headlong into danger damn near kills him. He wants to hold her, love her, protect her.

Miranda’s life is on the line. Will Garen risk exposure to save her?


PURCHASE LINKS 
Amazon    BN    Kobo    ARe

Google Play    iBooks    
Or buy direct from Ann at this link.

EXCERPT
The Gulfstream G280 shuddered as it banked hard right. Miranda Miller pushed one of the window blinds out of the way. Damn. Black as pitch outside the aircraft. She felt like warmed-over crap. Her mouth tasted sour, and her eyes were hot and gritty. She rubbed them and tallied how long it had been since she’d slept. At least two days. She reached for a Styrofoam cup in its no-spill metal holder, sloshed cold coffee around her mouth, and swallowed.
Her headset hummed. “Wakey, wakey, fraulein,” a heavily accented German voice rumbled. “We land at JFK as soon as the tower clears us.”
“What?” Fear sliced through her fatigue. “I told you we needed a smaller airport.”
“Sorry, fraulein. This one was closest. We are below recommended minimums on fuel.”
She considered asking the pilot why he hadn’t planned better but decided not to antagonize him. It was bad enough they were flying without a copilot—probably against FAA regulations. She had a dummied-up commercial pilot’s license tucked in her wallet under one of her many assumed names. Hopefully it matched the one on her phony passport. She hadn’t had time to check. If it came down to it, she’d been instructed to tell the tower she copiloted the flight.
As if he’d read her thoughts, the pilot’s next words were, “I need you to move into the cockpit, fraulein.”
“Alrighty. Give me a minute.”
“You do not have much more than that. I do not wish further difficulties with the U.S. authorities.”
Miranda wondered just what other problems the pilot might be referring to. She almost asked him, and then decided she didn’t really care. Her international security company engaged professionals. Most of them came from either the military or law enforcement and had checkered pasts. She unbuckled her seat belt and stumbled to her feet. Her crumpled, black pantsuit stank, but maybe only to her lycan senses. She hoped humans wouldn’t be able to smell stale blood.
A muffled chortle made its way past her lips. Maybe once anyone got a whiff of days old sweat, they’d give her a wide berth. Her body ached, especially her ribs where her target had slammed a lead pipe into her. She fingered her side and wondered if anything was broken. Not much you could do for ribs. They had to mend on their own.
A few steps took her to the tiny head in the rear of the aircraft. She splashed cold water on her face and winced when she took a good look at her scraped knuckles. Her target in Amsterdam—head of a worldwide human trafficking organization—had been much harder to eliminate than she’d expected. She’d needed her supernatural speed and strength—and her wolf form. One more face-dunking in cold water and she grabbed a towel to dry herself.
“Now, fraulein.” The jet shuddered again as its landing gear clicked into place.
The pilot sounded so exasperated, she rushed down the aisle and hurtled through the already-open cockpit door. He grabbed her arm and threw her into the empty seat.
“Watch it!” she snapped. Her upper lip pulled into a snarl. Claws pressed against the ends of her fingertips. Miranda struggled for control. Her wolf wanted to kill the human who’d manhandled her.
“Sorry.” The pilot’s voice was mild. She recognized compulsion beneath his words and wondered what the hell he was. “I do not wish to draw anyone’s attention,” he went on smoothly. “The rules regarding business-class jets are in constant flux.” He glanced at her with gray eyes that didn’t miss much. “Are you hurt?”
She nodded. “My assignment ran into unexpected snags.”
“Will you require medical attention before you proceed to the West Coast?”
She snorted. What a subtle way of asking if she’d been shot or stabbed. Lars Kinsvogel—or whatever his name really was—had obviously dealt with people like her before. Something he said caught her attention. “Won’t you be my pilot?”
He shook his head. “Someone fresh will relieve me.”
“Will I be able to stay aboard?”
He shot her an odd look. “Of course not. You must go through customs.”
She rolled her eyes and pressed her lips into a thin line. “That’s why I wanted to land somewhere inland.”
His gray eyes narrowed to slits. “All flights from foreign destinations are subject to customs, no matter what the airport. Is this your first international assignment?”
Heat rose to her face. “No.” She was damned if she’d say anything else. She didn’t know him from Adam.
The radio crackled. The pilot responded in pilotese and banked the plane. “Flights from Europe are cleared to land at certain airports. With the fuel we have left, we could have landed in Philadelphia or Newark, but I have a feeling those two destinations would not meet your needs, either. What are you afraid of?”
Miranda wasn’t certain what she could tell him. Company policy was clear. Talk to no one. “Never mind.”
She thought about Garen, her boss and chairman for Rubicon International. She’d been half in love with his razor-sharp mind, lithe build, salt-and-pepper hair, and sky-blue eyes for years, but he didn’t see her as anything but a junior-grade agent. Rumor had it he scarcely acknowledged employees until they became full-fledged operatives. If her fellows were any indication, she had a way to go. At least a few more assignments. And then there was the problem of her being a lycan.
She sighed, and fantasies of Garen went up in smoke like they always did. It was nice to dream, but Miranda steered clear of men. Between her wolf side and her somewhat unorthodox career, intimate relationships carried too much risk of discovery. She relied on her fingers, a vibrator, and the occasional one-night stand to take the edge off her needs.
The jet banked yet again and dropped lower. Its wheels made contact, and the pilot hit the brakes. Because she wasn’t belted in, Miranda nearly plunged into the instrument cluster. Lars made an aggravated clucking sound, but he didn’t say anything. They taxied off the runway.
“Since I have to get off, I need to get my things together.”
“Wait until the aircraft comes to a complete stop, fraulein.”
He sounded so much like a bot, she stifled a laugh. The plane moved smoothly into an enclosed hangar. Once it rolled to a halt, she pushed out of her seat, returned to the passenger compartment, and unhooked her small duffel from the wall. Lars’ breath hissed against her ear. “Where are your weapons?”
“On me and in my bag.”
“Put everything in your bag. Clips separate.”
“I’m not that stupid.” She pulled a 9mm semiautomatic from its shoulder holster and punched the button to discharge its clip. She drew back the slide, extracted the chambered bullet, and stuffed it into the clip. Next came a snub-nosed .38 revolver and two knives. She spun the chamber to make certain all the bullets were out and then placed everything in locked gun cases in her carry-on.
Lars still stood practically on top of her. She met his gaze, noticing he was a few inches taller than her five feet eleven. “Yes?” She quirked a tired brow.
“Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?” He settled his hands on her shoulders. She smelled his arousal and knew he had a hard-on without even looking.
“Christ! Not now.” She spun from beneath his grip. “Let’s just get through customs and allow whoever’s knocking to search the plane.”
“We will have some downtime in the terminal. At least an hour.” He sounded hopeful.
Miranda looked at him. Really looked at him. Lars was attractive in a Teutonic sort of way, with ice-blond hair and gray eyes. His trim body suggested he worked out. Interest flickered but then died. She shook her head. “I haven’t slept for forty-eight hours. I’m dead on my feet.”
“Why did you not sleep during the flight? The air was smooth.”
Good question. She’d wondered the same thing. “I have no idea. Too keyed up, I guess.”
He shouted something in German to whoever was pounding on the side of the jet and took her arm. “I will watch over you until you are safely back in the plane.”
She opened her mouth to tell him it wasn’t necessary, but something in his face stopped her. In that moment, she understood he was a trained operative just like her. His role this time around happened to be pilot, but she was certain he’d stood in her shoes before. “Which branch of the military trained you?”
He shook his head and let go of her arm. “It does not matter. Follow me, fraulein.”
She shouldered her duffel and walked to the rear cabin door. Lars had just sprung the locks. He spoke soothingly in German to an obviously agitated customs officer standing at the top of the stairs. The agent’s beady, black eyes settled on her. “Do you speak English?”
“Yes. Is there a problem, sir? It’s been a long flight, and both of us are tired. It took me a while to get my bag together.”
Nostrils flared, the agent looked intently at her and then stepped into the aircraft, waving them down the jet’s steps. “Customs is the last door at the north end of the hangar,” he barked. “Don’t even think of running. This hangar is locked and fully alarmed.”
Lars placed a hand beneath her elbow and guided her across a concrete floor. “It is best if we do not deviate from a straight line,” he muttered.
“Holy crap,” she said. “Why are they so uptight?”
He shrugged. “As you Americans say, it goes with the territory.” He grinned, displaying very white, very even teeth. “Everything we do and say between here and the customs area is filmed and recorded.”

Title: Lars
Series: Rubicon International
Author: Ann Gimpel
Genre: Shifter, Romantic, Susoense
Release Date: 27th June 2016

BLURB supplied by Bewitching Blog Tours
Tamara MacBride has a much bigger problem than hiding her shifter side from the world. By the skin of her teeth, and with a smattering of Irish luck, she manages to kill her sister’s murderer. Escaping from the scene of the crime is much harder than she anticipated. Just when she thinks she might be safe, her cab driver shrieks and slumps over the wheel.

An unknown assailant terminates Lars Kinsvogel’s target. Pleased by the outcome—after all dead is dead—he exchanges the glitz of Monte Carlo for a nearby airport, intent on collecting the private plane he left there. He’s no sooner arrived when a cab jumps the curb, and he races over to investigate. There’s not much he can do for the cabbie, but his passenger is still very much alive.


Trying to hustle Tamara out of the cab is tough. She’s frozen by fear, but when Lars lays out the rest of his plan to move her out of danger’s path, her temper flares. He can’t leave her alone in Monte Carlo. Can he convince her to trust him in time to save her life? 

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PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
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EXCERPT
Lars Kinsvogel sucked in an annoyed breath. Anxiety and greed thickened the air in Monte Carlo’s Place de Casino, and he stifled a choking sound. Damn his hypersensitive shifter senses. If it weren’t for them, the desperation hovering around him wouldn’t be quite so palpable. Casinos were always like this, though, a haven for the rash and reckless. What had likely begun as a harmless pastime turned into hardcore addiction for an unfortunate few, forcing them to return again and again despite diminishing returns.
Hope springs eternal. All the poor sods need is one more spin of the wheel, another hand of cards… Lars glanced up, right into the croupier’s beady gaze.
“Would monsieur like to place a bet?” The croupier grinned with all the warmth of a hammerhead shark, displaying a mouthful of bad teeth. What was it with the French and their aversion to dentistry? Lars shook his head and made shooing motions with one hand. He’d have to either join the baccarat game soon or move on, but he could get away with loitering for a few more minutes without drawing undue attention to himself.
His target, a powerfully built man with features revealing Chinese ancestry, had an arm slung around a striking brunette. Maybe she was one of the hookers who worked the casino circuit, or maybe she was a steady thing for the man.
Lars considered it and decided she could be both. Around five feet eight, she had a lush, curvy body, dark hair cut into a stylish bob that fell a few inches past her shoulders, and memorable eyes the color of a restless ocean. A short, black sheath hugged her like a second skin. Open nearly to her waist, it displayed half her full breasts. Even though Lars’ appraisal was surreptitious, he forced his gaze elsewhere. The woman was sex incarnate, and he didn’t need anything diverting him from his objective.
Jaret Chen pressed chips into his companion’s hand and urged her to pick a number. He gave one of her breasts a familiar squeeze, which earned him a smile, perfectly rouged lips stretching over impossibly straight teeth—and a slight shake of her head. Color stained her tanned skin. Lars realized he was looking at the woman again, wondering how her breasts would feel beneath his fingers. She seemed uncomfortable with Jaret’s frank exploration of her body, so she probably wasn’t a pro. For some unexplained reason, Lars felt relieved. The woman was too elegant to earn her living lying on her back.
He snorted to himself and studied the flashing display above the baccarat table. Maybe the woman wasn’t French. That might explain her perfect teeth—and her discomfort with having her body mauled in public. At least she held Jaret’s attention. So far the drug dealer hadn’t spared him so much as a sidelong glance. Lars had never met the man, but knew a great deal about him from an extensive dossier provided by Rubicon International. Deeply involved in the heroin trade from the Middle East, across the Mediterranean, and into Europe, Jaret was one of the principals in a large operation—and Lars’ current target.
He sized the man up. Maybe six feet, he had a barrel chest. Strongly muscled arms strained against the fabric of his cream-colored, silk dress shirt. His art deco tie had been loosened. Dark eyes, pronounced cheekbones, and straight dark hair cut short blended with his business attire. For all intents and purposes, he was indistinguishable from the phalanx of wealthy—and wannabe wealthy—men circulating through the casino. Lars glanced at his own cream-colored silk shirt and black linen pants. With the exception that his tie was still firmly knotted, he and Jaret were dressed as twins.
Guess neither of us wanted to stick out in anyone’s memory.
Lars glanced at his Rolex. Close to midnight and time to move on. He’d seen enough. Now it was a matter of figuring out where and when to strike. These things always went more smoothly when he was close to invisible. He melted into the crowd and made his way outside. The casino fronted the French Riviera, and Lars stood looking out at the Mediterranean for long moments. The water was quiet tonight, waves barely slapping the white sand beach. His cell phone, set on silent, vibrated against his hip, and he tugged it from a pocket to look at the display.
Private. Damn! Could be anyone.
Lars punched the answer icon, held the phone to his ear, and waited. No need to say anything until he knew who was on the other end.
“Are you somewhere you can talk?”
Lars inhaled sharply as Garen LeRochefort’s voice came through the phone’s speaker.
Another shifter, Garen had founded Rubicon International with Lars hundreds of years before. The mechanics of the spy game had changed drastically between the late seventeen hundreds and modern times, but the basics—kill or be killed—hadn’t altered much. Everyone who worked for Rubicon International was some type of shifter. Lars’ animal form was a mountain lion, Garen’s a wolf.
Lars loped farther down the beach until he cleared several couples engaged in deep, hungry kisses before responding. “What has happened?” Something must have, or Garen wouldn’t have risked contact.
“You need to leave.”
“But I have not—”
“Doesn’t matter,” Garen cut in. “I’ll explain when you’re back in the office on a fully encrypted line.”
Lars thought about his twin engine Piper Seneca waiting at the Nice airport, twenty-four kilometers from Monte Carlo. It gave him freedom to come and go, and was much cheaper to operate than the business class jets he also owned. “Maybe I could still—”
“No!” The one word thundered so loud, Lars moved the phone away from his ear. “Don’t even go back to your room.” Garen hesitated. “Old friend. Trust me on this.” The line went dead.
Lars stared at the iPhone’s display and dropped the device back into his pocket. He’d been compromised. He wasn’t certain quite how, and a part of him was curious as hell. He kept walking, swinging in a wide circle to head back toward the Hotel de Paris. Garen had said not to return to his room, but if he was careful, maybe he could learn something critical that would help their side.
“Ja, forewarned is forearmed,” he muttered.
Keycard in hand, he let himself into a side door of the rambling old structure, got his bearings, and started cautiously up a stairwell. His suite was on the second floor, at the very end of the wing facing the Mediterranean. He’d always loved the old hotel with its thick, patterned carpets and antique lighting and furnishings. Staying next to the walls, he used a bit of shifter magic to cast a don’t look here spell. It wouldn’t keep someone determined from seeing him, but it didn’t require much magic, either.
He entered the second floor a few doors from his own and scanned the empty hallway, his senses on high alert. Midnight was early in Monte Carlo, a city where people frequently stayed up through dawn and slept the day away, so he fully expected to see other guests, but the hall was mercifully empty. He padded silently toward his door and examined it, wishing he’d set a trap. He inhaled, trying to sort scents, but there were too many to make sense of. He could leave, just walk away like Garen had almost ordered him to, but Lars had never been a coward, and he was more intrigued than frightened. He’d spent years worming his way out of dicey situations. This was just one more, and he was damned if he’d walk away from his things. Not unless he had to.
He took a deep breath, tugged his guaranteed-not-to-set-off-metal-detectors .32 caliber revolver from its ankle holster, and shoved the key card into the slot in the door. A tiny electric motor hummed before the deadbolt snicked out of the way. He turned the latch, kicked the door open, and pivoted from side to side, scanning the sitting room of his suite, gun at the ready. Lars waited in the doorway, barely breathing, and then he heard a muted click, followed by an unmistakable whirr, and knew.
A bomb.
He cursed in German, not knowing if he was more annoyed with the turn of events or with himself for not taking Garen’s advice and getting the hell out of there.
* * * *
Tamara MacBride pushed the betting chips back into Jaret’s hand. “Sure and I’m not feeling like wagering just now,” she murmured. “Why don’t you do it for me?”
He shot her an odd look. “But you like to gamble.”
You only think I do.
“Something we had for supper didn’t quite settle. Would you mind if I sat somewhere?” She swayed a bit on her feet to make her statement more realistic and sent a weak smile his way. In truth, she was a bit nauseated. Between sweat and greed, the air in the casino stank of humanity’s darker side. Expensive colognes added a queer edge, their rich scents intensifying as their owners’ anxiety rose. If she hadn’t been a shifter, she might not have noticed, at least not as much. So far, she’d done a decent job hiding what she was from Jaret. She aimed to keep things that way.
He ran a thick index finger down the bare skin between her breasts. “We could return to our rooms.”
She crinkled her face in what she hoped looked like an apology and did her best to ooze regret. “Better wait until my tummy settles.” He was arrogant enough, he had no idea how repulsive she found him. Thank all the bloody saints, she’d managed to keep any sexual activities between them tamped down to nothing because of his heroin habit. According to a bit of Internet research, she supposed he could probably get hard, but the drug suppressed orgasms. At least so far, he’d been much more interested in his next shot of dope and drifting into an opiate-induced dreamy void than in bothering her for sex.
Jaret returned his attention to the baccarat table. “I’ll just be over there.” She pointed to a row of padded Louis Fourteenth chairs with bowed legs. Jaret nodded absently. His pupils were very small, so he was still fully under the influence of his last shot. That meant she had at least a couple of hours before he’d need to leave the casino.
Tamara tottered to a chair on ridiculously high heels. They made her feet ache, but Jaret liked it when she dressed like a fancy woman and pleasing him was high on her list. She settled onto the plush seat and slipped her shoes off. A waiter stopped and arched an inquiring brow. Nodding pleasantly at him, she ordered club soda. Rubbing the bridge of her nose between two fingers, she made a grab for her courage. So far, her plan had gone off without a hitch. The only thing left was to finish things off.
The waiter handed her drink over, along with a bowl of salted nuts, and she set both on a nearby chair. The ebb and flow of noise in the crowded room eddied around her. A quick glance at Jaret reassured her that he was still deeply engrossed in gambling—his second favorite addiction, right after heroin. He didn’t care much for women, other than as window dressing and so the other men would see him as some sort of stud.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Gimpel is a national bestselling author. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Once upon a time, she nurtured clients, now she nurtures dark, gritty fantasy stories that push hard against reality. When she’s not writing, she’s in the backcountry getting down and dirty with her camera. She’s published over 30 books to date, with several more planned for 2016 and beyond. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and wolf hybrids round out her family.

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