A Paul B Review: Enemies of the State (The Executive Office #1) by Tal Bauer

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars       ★★★★★

Enemies of the StateEthan Reichenbach is the lead agent in the President-Elect’s Secret Service detail.  He expects to spend the next four or eight years being shadowing the man just elected to live in the White House.  What he did not expect is to become the new President’s friend. Nor did he expect to develop a crush on the man in the first few months after they move to Washington. Doing so would break so many Secret Service rules and would be grounds for dismissal.  Not to mention that the President is straight.  This breaks Ethan’s personal rules of never getting involved in a relationship and never falling for a straight man.

Jack Spiers has spent the fifteen years since his wife’s death in combat in public service.  Focusing on veterans and their families, he has held several posts in Washington.  Having been elected President should be the pinnacle of his career.  But having lost his wife a long time ago, Jack finds the office lonely.  He turns to his lead Secret Service agent for friendship, which Ethan is hesitant to give at first.   However, as their friendship develops, Jack is surprised when one night Ethan kisses him.  To say that Jack is surprised would be an understatement.  As the two put distance between them, Jack still wants Ethan to be his friend.  But Jack begins to realize that he has feelings for Ethan as well.  He wants to find a way to make this work.

Against this backdrop, Jack is still President.  He must deal with a world that has basically gone to hell in a handbasket the last ten years.  With China and Russia both occupying countries and the Islamic Caliphate causing trouble both in the Middle East and around the world through terror attacks, Jack has his hands full.  However, the real trouble might be right under Jack’s nose.  An American general is working with agents in the Middle East to bring about even more instability to a region already at war.  As Jack works toward bringing peace to the world, there are others who are trying to insure that he does not succeed.  Ethan must work to protect the man who is not only the President but also his lover.

In order for a political thriller to work, the premise behind the book must work.  Set approximately 10-30 years in the future, Enemies of the State describes a world that could possibly exist at that time.  The Islamic Caliphate (ISIS/ISIL) has grown bolder with the passage of time, as has Russia with their land grabs.  The English, French and Germans are battle weary after numerous terrorist attacks.  Into this world, Jack must try to bring all sides together to prevent the start of World War III.

The other part of a good political thriller is the romance.  I loved the slow building romance between Ethan and Jack.  Ethan, the gay Secret Service agent, knows that a relationship with Jack is wrong on so many levels.  But are the signals the President is sending him real?  Jack is alone in the White House and needs a friend.  What could be wrong with that?  They begin to learn about each other as they work through their own problems with this relationship.  I look forward to see where the next book goes with both this relationship and the various subplots that are left unresolved.

The cover art by Aria Tan shows Ethan and Jack above the Washington skyline.  It is a fitting cover for the book.

Sales Links:   NineStar Press | Amazon |  ARe

Book Details

ebook, 324 pages
Published February 15th 2016 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781911153337
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series:  The Executive

Enemies of the State (The Executive #1)

An Ali Audiobook Review: Better Than Safe (Better Than #4) by Lane Hayes and Tyler Stevens (Narrator)

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 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars   ★★★★★
Better Than Safe AudiobookPaul Fallon is a fashion advertising guru. He’s a genius at dealing with difficult editors, art directors, and designers alike. He thrives on the chaotic atmosphere and constant challenges. But in his personal life, he’s hoping for peace and stability. Settling down with a nice doctor or lawyer sounds perfect. Anyone but an artist. He’s been there, done that, and he doesn’t want to relive the heartache.

Seth Landau is a model, occasional guitarist, and aspiring painter. He’s quirky, flighty, and wise beyond his years. Life has taught him some tough lessons, then given him opportunities he never dreamed of. He’s learned to appreciate the fragility of life and to express it in his work. Seth’s flare for the absurd combined with a supple mind and a beautiful body are too alluring for Paul to ignore. Against his best intentions, Paul is drawn to the younger man whose particular brand of crazy challenges Paul to accept that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes taking a chance is better than being safe.
I really, really liked this book. This ended up being a well done romance and there were quite a few things I liked about it. Paul is the narrator and he gets set up with Seth by a friend. Seth is much younger and at first glance doesn’t seem to have his act together. As the story unfolds though we realize Seth is so much more than he initially seemed. I fell for Seth right along with Paul. At first I thought he was kind of charming but a pain in the bottom and way too much trouble but by the end I was all swooney and ready to declare my endless love for him right along with Paul. I thought the plot was interesting and it moved along at a good pace without a lot of angst. I liked how problems would arise but instead of the usual drama we often see in books, these two just communicated (a novel idea I know) and worked through it. There was no insta-love and their relationship progressed in a way that felt realistic to me. Some of the most touching scenes were every day moments (like a picnic). The story wasn’t filled with sex scenes…..just the right amount…and they were HOT. Seth was a dirty talker and that made the scenes really work for me.

This was my favorite book by this author. I’ve only read book 2 of this series but had no problem reading this without reading the others. The couples from books 1 & 3 made multiple appearances and there is a very brief appearance of the guys from 2.

I listened to this on audio and REALLY liked the narrator. I thought he did a great job on all of the characters and it really made the sexy scenes hotter.
Cover art by Aaron Anderson. I liked the cover on this a lot.  It was consistent with the other books in the series and I found it visually appealing.
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 9 pages, 8 hrs 12 mins
Published March 7th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press, LLC (first published September 25th 2015)
Original TitleBetter Than Safe
ASINB01CKGVNFC
Edition LanguageEnglish

Cornelia Grey Sharing Pinspiration and More About ‘The Empty Hourglass’ by Cornelia Grey (giveaway and guest blog)

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The Empty Hourglass

The Empty Hourglass (Deal with a Devil) by Cornelia Grey
R
iptide Publishing
Cover Art by Jay Aheer

 

 

Hello! I’m Cornelia Grey—welcome to the Empty Hourglass blog tour! At various tour stops, I’ll be sharing some secrets about my writing process, sources of inspiration and future projects!

Comment on each stop to be entered in a drawing for a $15 Riptide Publishing gift card and the two previous titles in the Deal with a Devil series— Devil at the Crossroads and The Circus of the Damned—in an e-book format of your choice. Thank you for joining me on the tour!

Pin-spiration!

Authors are often asked where they find inspiration. Among various sources, I find what works best for me is visual inspiration… I studied fine arts and history of arts for several years, so I’m very fond of paintings, incisions, photography, digital art and comics—and I find they do wonders to fire up ideas and storylines in my brain!

On some occasions, seeing a single image has been enough to spark a chain reaction that ended up in an entire plot somehow pouring out of my brain. Other times, a picture of a potential character intrigues me enough that I start wondering who they might be, what their story could be like, and end up with a protagonist on my hands in need of an adventure.

One of my current favorite sources of visual inspiration is Pinterest—I used to scour the internet and save tons of pictures on my hard drive, neatly divided in settings, characters, props, various historical eras… but, unfortunately, they ended up getting lost in the mix when the folders became too big and it was time-consuming to keep them all properly organized.

With Pinterest, I find the feature allowing to mimic a corkboard ‘pinning’ the pictures and having them all available at a glance much more convenient. So when I started working on The Empty Hourglass, I spent some time browsing through the website looking for inspiration for the characters, the setting and the general atmosphere of the story (Just a word of caution… gotta be careful that a bit of browsing for inspiration doesn’t accidentally turn in hours of procrastination 😉 )

So, allow me to introduce you to a few of The Empty Hourglass’s characters!

If you have read the previous installments in the Deal with a Devil series, you might have noticed that our resident devil, Farfarello, looks different in each one. Discovering what he’s going to look like in the current story is always one of my favorite aspects when working on this series. And usually, I come across a particular image that just strikes me—you know, the ‘there! That’s him!’ feeling! And this is what he looks like in The Empty Hourglass:

Pinspiration1

As for our protagonist, toymaker Thomas Escott, who grew up on the streets of the capital, I was rather charmed by this fellow:

Pinspiration2

Our reclusive inventor, Jethro Hastings, was instead inspired by Algerian actor Tahar Rahim—please notice the curly inventor hair!

Pinspiration3

This lovely lady and her spiders were the inspiration for Dragana, the blind inventress, although my character ended up looking fairly different, with dark hair and skin:

Pinspiration4

And as for Mina, the little ghost girl inhabiting Jethro’s garden, I found this picture absolutely lovely for her:

Pinspiration5

I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to The Empty Hourglass’s characters! If you’d like to see more pictures—of Jethro’s mansion and laboratory, for example, or of his prosthetics and, of course, the devil’s hourglass, please feel free to have a look at the Pinterest board for this novel!
https://it.pinterest.com/corneliagrey1/the-empty-hourglass/

About  The Empty Hourglass

Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.

About Cornelia Grey

Cornelia Grey is a creative writing student fresh out of university, with a penchant for fine arts and the blues. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia moved to London to pursue her studies.

After graduating with top grades, she is now busy with internships: literary agencies, publishing houses, and creative departments handling book series, among others. She also works as a freelance translator.

She likes cats, knitting, performing in theatre, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.

Connect with Cornelia:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of The Empty Hourglass, Cornelia is giving away the two previous titles in the Deal with a Devil series—  Devil at the Crossroads and  The Circus of the Damned—in an e-book format of your choice, plus $15 in Riptide credit. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 16, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following  the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

The Sexy Sirius Wolves Series is Back in The Dilemma by Victoria Sue (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Orion 5

The Dilemma (Sirius’s Wolves #5) by Victoria Sue
Release Date: April 7, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dark Hollows Press
Cover Artist: 3 rusted spoons

Blurb

Marcus has just become the only human ever to be Alpha of a werewolf pack and thwarted the plans of Anubis to destroy the goddess Sirius’ creation – the werewolves.

Now, Anubis has decided to focus his efforts instead on Marcus and his new pack, to try and destroy the pack from within. In order to do this, Anubis seeks the one thing Marcus wants above all else and when he finds it, will use that to get him to walk away from his lovers and the pack.

Unaware of the evil god’s plans, Marcus works together with Kellan and Ricoh, not only trying to help Nate recover from the vicious torture he has undergone at the hands of the terrorist group, The Winter Circle, but to also come to terms with leading a pack of over two thousand wolves.

Marcus soon will be faced with a dilemma, but will he give everything up for his mates and the pack or will the temptation Anubis offers him be too much for one human to refuse? Will Marcus put his wolves before himself or will he be tricked into leaving them behind forever?

 

Pages or Words: 50,000 words
Series should be read in order.
Categories: Fiction, M/M Romance, Ménage/Poly, Wolf Shifters

Exclusive Excerpt

Marcus rubbed his right knee. It had started throbbing an hour ago, and was now hurting like a bitch. He’d been sitting down in one place for too long. He wanted to get back upstairs so Kellan could work his magic on it. He’d caught the concerned glance Ricoh had just thrown at him, and willed himself to stay still.

Blaze was drawing the meeting to a close, and they’d gotten loads of work done. He now had thirty gammas with Jed firmly in charge of them all. Blaze had again indicated that they would assume that financial responsibility also. Marcus bristled a little at that, but until he actually knew if Jefferson had any money, there were more important things to worry about…like what were they going to do with the only prisoner locked up downstairs.

Hunter. Marcus had been expecting the question to come up for the last thirty minutes and had wished Ricoh wasn’t there.

Blaze looked at Ricoh. “Something happened two days ago. I decided not to tell you at the time.”

Marcus’ heart beat hard.

“The gammas caught Hunter trying to kill himself.”

Ricoh paled.

“How is that even possible?” Marcus asked quietly. He tightened his grip on Ricoh’s hand. Werewolves were hard wired to protect themselves by shifting. Even he knew that.

“He partially shifted and used his claws to slit his wrists. He passed out and his body immediately shifted as he lost consciousness.”

Ricoh seemed to shrink a little into himself. Marcus glanced down at Ricoh, and instinctively pulled him close. He wasn’t dumb enough to assume that Ricoh would have recovered from being betrayed by Hunter, or being convinced the wolf was his mate for years.

“How is he doing now?” Marcus asked.

Jed answered shortly. “I’m sorry, but I wish he’d succeeded.” Marcus looked up at the older man. Jed looked furious. “He deceived us all. Just look what he did to Nate.”

“He didn’t actually physically touch Nate,” Conner said.

“But he knew about it,” Jed’s voice rose. “He stood by and allowed it to happen. I trusted that man. We all did. Any of his gammas would have given their lives for him as our Alpha.” Marcus watched in silence as Jed struggled to calm down. The enormity of what had happened was finally sinking in. Hunter hadn’t just hurt Nate and Ricoh, who had both managed in barely a week to plant themselves firmly in Marcus’ heart; he had hurt his wolves, his family. They had trusted their Alpha to look after them, and he had let them down in a spectacularly cruel way.

Marcus turned to Ricoh and looked at the worried blue eyes that were blinking up at him. Marcus turned his seat and took Ricoh’s other hand. “You have choices. You can go and see him. You can see him on your own or any one of us could come with you, including me. I can go and see him for you and find out what he wants, or you can simply tell him to get lost. You never have to think of him again.”

Ricoh swallowed. “Will you come with me?”

“I think we’ll take Jed as well.” Marcus glanced at Jed and the man nodded his head sharply.

“Good then.” Blaze stood up. “Might I suggest you see him in a few hours? I know you’ll need to see how Nate is and bring Kellan up to speed with what’s been decided.”

Marcus shot Blaze a grateful glance. Everyone filed out.

“Marcus?” Blaze hesitated.

Marcus turned to Ricoh. “Do you want to organize some food for us to take upstairs?”

Ricoh squeezed Marcus’ hand then headed towards Lilly.

“I just wanted to say I’m very grateful,” Blaze said slowly.

Marcus looked in astonishment at the big guy. “I think running my mouth off might have just cost you a lot of money.”

Blaze waved an impatient hand. “I don’t mean the school, or the housing, both of which are long overdue. I mean the way you spoke to May.”

Marcus screwed his eyes up in confusion.

“I have never said thank you,” Blaze added.

“For what I said to May?”

Blaze chuckled. “I know it’s been nearly a week, but because of Nate we have never had a chance to talk about what happened.” Blaze paused.

“You were willing to die for our wolves.”

Marcus turned at the other voice. He hadn’t realized Darric was still in the room. All his focus had been on Blaze.

“You’re human,” Darric continued. “Stating the obvious, but there aren’t many wolves who would have stepped up and done what you did. We owe you our thanks and our loyalty.’

“And I don’t want you to think I’m taking over, either,” Blaze added.

Marcus put a hand up to stall him. “I’m completely out of my depth and everyone knows it.”

“No, you’re wrong,” Blaze said firmly. “You had May eating out of your hand.”

“By promising her something I had no right to,” Marcus interrupted.

“By being an Alpha and reminding us that packs are about family,” Blaze replied. He put a hand on Marcus’ shoulder. “Your pack made the right decision.”

 

 

Buy the book:  Amazon

 

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Meet the author:

Victoria Sue has loved books for as long as she can remember. Books were always what pocket money went on and what usually Father Christmas brought. When she ran out of her kids’ adventure stories, she would go raid her mom’s. By the age of eight she was devouring classics like Little Women, and fell in love with love stories.

She especially loves writing gay romance because as far as she’s concerned the only thing better than one hot guy, is two of them.

Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/victoriasueauthor/

Twitter: @vickysuewrites

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

11-Apr: BFD Book Blog, Bonkers About Books, My Fiction Nook, Outrageous Heroes, Jessie G. Books

12-Apr: MM Good Book Reviews, Hearts on Fire, Alpha Book Club, Full Moon Dreaming, Love Bytes

13-Apr: Oh My Shelves, Happily Ever Chapter, Mikky’s World of Books, Joyfully Jay, The Blogger Girls

14-Apr: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Book Lovers 4Ever, Inked Rainbow Reads, Velvet Panic,

A.M. Leibowitz, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

15-Apr: Bayou Book Junkie, Unquietly Me, Caraway Carter, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Molly Lolly

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: eBook from Victoria Sue’s backlist.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
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Dance, Love, Live is Back with ‘Like You’ve Never Been Hurt’ by Jaime Samms (author interview and excerpt)

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LikeYouveNeverBeenHurtFS

Like You’ve Never Been Hurt (Dance, Love, Live #2) by Jaime Samms
Dreamspinner Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jaime Samms here today to talk about inspiration, writing and the release, Like You’ve Never Been Hurt.  Welcome, Jaime.

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  1. Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

 A lot of the time, an inspiration for a book can be something as simple as a scene I see during a drive, or something I overhear at the mall or a picture I see somewhere. Since I’m very much a pantzer, all it takes is a visual cue or a line of dialogue to spark that thing in me that makes me decide I have to write about it. The story grows organically out of that. These latest dance books are a little more personal, since my daughter is, and always has been, a dancer. Now that she is rapidly nearing the age when she will have to be moving to a bigger city to pursue her dream, I guess I needed to explore that dream in my own way. It got me thinking about a life in dance, and then the stories began to take shape, and here we are now!

  1. Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And  why?

Definitely a pantzer all the way. The why is probably because for me, writing a story is much like reading one in some ways. I enjoy the journey. I want to find out what’s going to happen as much as the next guy. So unveiling the characters and story as I go is fun. Sometimes, even after so many stories, I still have to push myself past the point where I know how it ends, just to get the writing part done. It can be a struggle not to heed the siren call of a new story at that point!

  1. Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?

I grew up on fantasy sprinkled with science fiction here and there. I like paranormal now, and confess to being a bit more drawn to anything that has a heaping side helping of plot alongside the romance when I read. I shy away from writing stuff like that just because I’m not convinced I have the chops to hold up to some of my very favorite authors of the non-romance genres. 

  1. If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?

Since the vast bulk of my story writing is character driven, I really don’t think there is a way to write any of my characters differently and still be writing the same story about the same guy, if that makes sense. The story is their journey to being the different person. If I could change some aspects of a story? I might do some beefing up of the peripheral story in Patchwork Heaven. Gregor was a challenge to write and I question if his story was told to best effect. I wouldn’t change Gregor. I would change how I related his story.

  1. Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

I’m sure it happens. Honestly, if anyone is my favourite, it is probable whatever character I happen to be writing at the time. They are all different, and like kids or pets, you love them all for themselves. When your focus is on them, in that moment, they are the world. But they are not the universe.

  1. If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

 I have such a long list of to-be-reads that as long as I have access to electricity, and my phone, I can read just about anything I’m in the mood for. I just have a ton of unread e-books.

  1. How early in your life did you begin writing?

 I don’t remember ever not having stories happening in my head. Writing them down came in about elementary school, probably. Letting other people read them was a slower, more selective process. In fact, I know exactly where all that early writing is, still in my parents’ house and have been waiting for the time when I can sneak it all out without anyone noticing so they don’t ask what it is. It really isn’t fit to be read. By anyone.

  1. Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

I read early on. I don’t remember anyone reading to me, though I do remember reading to my little brother. Some of my very favorite kids books:

https://www.amazon.ca/Tigers-cellar-Carol-Fenner/dp/B0006AYF5K

http://www.amazon.com/Danny-Dinosaur-Syd-Hoff/dp/0064440028

https://www.amazon.ca/Big-Max-Kin-Platt/dp/0064440060

https://www.amazon.ca/Alligator-Pie-Classic-Edition-Dennis/dp/1443411515

So yeah. Fantastical imagination has always been the way it was going for me, so no wonder as I got older, I moved on to Tolkien and Tad Williams and Terry Brooks. It was inevitable.

  1. If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?

I have never been good at titles, but…something along the lines of Never Settle. I made good decision in the end, and have a great family. But it was touch and go there for a little while!

SERIES BLURB
To dance is to put one’s heart and soul on display for the world to see and judge. Conrad, Peridot, and Cobalt always knew this. For years, this small group of men has danced in and out of the spotlight and one another’s lives. Now, settling in one place, one studio, they all have to find a place on the stage—or behind the scenes—and find the even greater strength to once more dance like no one is watching. To love like they’ve never been hurt before. But most of all, to live their lives like they have found their heaven, both in the music and in the eyes of those who love them.
LikeYouveNeverBeenHurtFS
 
Blurb: About to lose the only thing he ever loved, Adam Pittaluga is at a crossroads in a dancing career that has hardly begun. He has always wanted to be a ballet dancer, but now that it’s impossible, he turns to Peridot for comfort. Peridot has been rebuilding his life after losing his ability to dance professionally, his marriage, and very nearly his daughter. He has a lot of reasons to be leery of starting something new, especially with a man as young as Adam.
Adam and Peridot have to believe that starting again can lead to love and success and that sometimes, the strength needed to love like you’ve never been hurt can be borrowed from unexpected places for a while. But ultimately, they must find it inside themselves to be each other’s happy ending.
 
About Jaime
Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men—what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love—she’s never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they would also be the stories she wrote.
These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Freya’s Bower, Dreamspinner Press, Totally Bound, and now, Riptide Publishing.
Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, is spent crocheting, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!), or watching movies. She has a day job, as well, which she loves, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child-care responsibilities.
She graduated some time ago from college with a fine arts diploma, and a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all . . .
 
Find Jaime
Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/jaimesamms