Why I Love Series is Back with Why I Love Waiters (Why I Love… #2) by T.A. Chase (guest blog)

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Why I Love Waiters (Why I Love… #2) by T.A. Chase
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host T.A. Chase today sharing thoughts on her novel, Why I  Love Waiters.

Welcome, T.A.!

✒︎

Hello! T.A. Chase here and I’m happy to be a guest blogger here today. Some of you might know this already, but I write gay romance. I’m supposed to be talking about the re-release of my book, Why I Love Waiters, available at Dreamspinner Press. It’s the second in my Why I Love series.

When I first wrote Waiters, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had just been repealed and John was struggling with what it meant to live as an openly gay soldier. He’d been admiring Heath from afar and really had to make the decision of whether he was going to go after what he wanted or stay hidden until he got out of the military.

Now we do know that most people who serve in our military—and anywhere really—don’t care what sex the person you love is. Love is love and it’s important to accept it for that very reason. But there are people who can’t see beyond the sex of the significant other and John knew that.

In the military, there is

Author Bio:

T.A. Chase lives in the Midwest with her neurotic but still wonderful senior cat. She believes there is beauty in every kind of love, so why not live a life without boundaries? Experiencing everything the world offers fascinates T.A., and writing about the things that make each of us unique is how she shares those insights. When not writing, she’s watching movies and reading. She’s also a part of a line-dancing group that takes over a bar on Tuesday nights and entertains at assisted living homes. It’s all about living life to the fullest.

 

She loves hearing from fans. But don’t be too upset if she doesn’t get back to you right away. Life has a way of making her lose track of days and hours. Don’t worry, though. You will hear back at some point. 

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-coal-miners-son-by-ta-chase-7989-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6H6PWI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482560089&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Coal+Miner%27s+Son

Social Media:

www.tachase.com

A Jeri Release Day Review: Secrets of You (Sunshine and Happiness #4) by Skylar M. Cates

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

secrets-of-youI hated giving this book 3 stars. I really went into it thinking it would be a 4, maybe even 4 ½ star read for me. I had read the previous three books in the series and really enjoyed them. We met River in book 1 as he is one of the roommates and Morgan in book 2. So this coupling has been building and I was SO ready for it.

So when all of the other roommates go on a 2 week cruise, River and Morgan inevitably end up in bed. BUT, Morgan was willing to hide their relationship from their roommates for River. Not cool. River never even asked him to hide, so why compromise who you are?

River has also been carrying around a big secret about his past. Something that has been alluded to over and over again. But once the secret came out, I was shocked that it even was a secret. So he had guilt and shame, but still. I don’t think it warranted this big build up and secrecy.

That being said, River and Morgan together were amazing. Their chemistry was off the charts, even with Morgan being slightly gun shy after his attack in a previous book and River’s loss. I really liked them together and pegged them as an up coming couple since book 2. They were total opposites, but fit together so well.

So this was sweet, romantic, hot…. But the angst I was expecting for either or both character just wasn’t there.

Cover Artist: AngstyG.  Love the design and mood of the cover.  Just strikes the right tone.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: March 3rd 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635333148 (ISBN13: 9781635333145)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSunshine and Happiness #4

An Alisa Review: Tortoise Interruptus by JL Merrow

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

tortoise-interruptus-by-jl-merrowCursed by an impatient witch to turn into a tortoise at inopportune moments, Tip is horrified to find himself tortoise-napped by a customer at the Isle of Wight cafe where he works.

 

Things start to look up when Tip ends up very literally in the capable hands of drop-dead gorgeous Steve, but Tip soon begins to wonder just how far he can trust Steve, who turns out to have a close connection with his kidnapper. Tip’s attempts at a normal life — and love life — seem doomed to remain frustrated in more ways than one!

 

Inspired by a real-life incident. Yes, really.

 

What a sweet and funny story.  Tip has been dealing with the fact that he can turn into a tortoise at any time after he was cursed by a witch.  It has really put a damper on his ability to live his life since he never has more than a few minutes notice.

 

We see Tip’s complete frustration at his situation and knowing there is nothing he can do about it.  When he changes back right in front of Steve he can’t believe his luck that the handsome man would want him.  Steve doesn’t care about the curse and is willing to be patient if it gets in the way, which it like a breath of fresh air to Tip’s most recent dating experiences.

 

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is cute and catches your eye.

 

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 33 pages

Published: January 28, 2017 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634862851

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Review: Chinese Morning (Dragons Schooled #3) by Emily Carrington

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

chinese-morning-dragons-schooled-3-by-emily-carringtonTravis longs to remain in the magical world which has given him so much pleasure. The only problem: he’s terrible at his job, and without his job he cannot stay. To distract himself, he seeks out the challenge of sexually dominating a dragon.

 

Chen enjoys being submissive in bed but cannot admit this. Such would mean shame and disgrace. But as he falls for Travis’s mouth and hands and mind, he is forced to accept the truth: submission is where he’s meant to be.

 

Chen and Travis face off against Chen’s heritage and powerful mother. Will their attraction, bordering on love, be enough to rescue them?

 

This was a nice story.  Chen is dealing with demands to come home from his mother while trying to figure out his feelings for Travis.  Travis tries to keep an emotional distance from Chen knowing that he will have to leave even if he doesn’t want to.  In the end will Travis has to decide if he is willing to change everything to be with Chen.

 

We get to see both characters’ points of view in the story and it helps understand their struggles and what they are feeling.  Chen is fighting with himself because he longs to be Travis’s, but he has always been taught that he has to be the dominate one.  While Travis loves the challenge of dominating a dragon, he can’t help but be pulled in by Chen’s quiet openness.  I loved how Chen was willing to give up his honor and place so he could be with the man he loved.

 

Cover art by Fiona Jayde is nice and works well for this story.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 113 pages

Published: January 30, 2017 by Loose Id

ISBN: 9781682522349

Edition Language: English

Series: Dragons Schooled #3

A VVivacious Pre-Release Review: Unconditionally by Nell Iris

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

unconditionally-by-nell-irisLuca and Gus are getting married. But when Luca’s mother violently criticises Luca’s wedding attire, a flood of uncertainty hits Luca and he runs. Now it’s up to Gus to find and convince Luca that he has nothing to be ashamed of and to convince him to return to the wedding dressed just as he wants to be.

 

This is a short story which takes us through three moments in the life of Luca and Gus. The first being the moment they met, the second and most significant one being their wedding day and a third moment which constitutes the epilogue.

 

This is a short and sweet story. It is very well written and makes for a fun and enjoyable read. I liked the premise of the story which was basically about accepting who you are but I really appreciated the unique way it was applied to the story, with the choice of clothing forming a big part of the narrative.

 

Luca is flamboyant and prefers to wear androgynous clothing. Despite the fact that we see him at his most insecure, I could appreciate the quiet strength about him. He actually came across as someone comfortable in his skin and confident. Then there was Gus who was such an unassuming character but I loved his integrity and this quiet dignity he had about himself.

 

Luca and Gus made for a handsome couple. I really think they complemented each other well and that they would make it.

 

What I found weird about this story was that despite Luca and Gus being so close to each other, for some reason Gus is completely unaware of Luca’s history with his mother who has never been able to treat him with the respect he deserves and somehow Gus was able to miss this fact for going on six years. Now this fact makes me question Gus and Luca and how well they truly know each other as compared to how they are projected to be. While giving someone time to tell you the details is one thing, having not picked up on the vibe at all seems unrealistic.

 

This story is a nice read and it is written flawlessly making for an enjoyable, short and sweet read.

 

Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I actually really like the cover especially with the rings placed just so at the bottom and the font for “Unconditionally” which really complements the cover design. I even like the two men wearing formal suits who appear to have just gotten married but I wonder, considering, how a particular wedding attire is the trigger for the whole plot, if it was wise to have the two men on the cover dressed otherwise.

Sales Links

JMS Books LLC

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Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: March 4th 2017 by JMS Books LLC admin@jms-books.com
ISBN139781634863230

Adrian Randall on Writing, Characters and his latest novel ‘Countermind’ (author interview and excerpt)

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Countermind by Adrian Randall
D
SP Publications
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase from

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✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Adrian Randall here today.  Thank you, Adrian, for sitting in our Interview chair and answering a few questions for us:

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It’s not really a question of how much as it is which parts. In the case of Countermind, Alan Izaki is a fugitive psychic, hacker, and thief on the run. Jack Smith, a government agent trained in a classified school of “counter-psychic” techniques, is trying to arrest him. The two of them run at very different temperatures: Alan is angry and indignant, whereas Smith is cool and conniving. I’m a pretty mild-mannered guy myself, so both of these characters represent very different extremes from me. But the nice thing about fiction is that you get to engage in behaviors that are a bit more outrageous than anything you’d do in real life.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Writers should write what they know, which isn’t to mean that they should play it safe. Rather, they should go out and learn. The benefit of setting your story in this universe (or one close to it) is that you end up learning lots of cool stuff. Writing Countermind meant learning about topics ranging from hacking to spies to quantum physics and even video games. The risk is that you’ll get some details wrong, and actual experts will catch your mistakes and call you out on them, but it’s a risk worth taking.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Probably, but I was a well-read kid so it’s hard to know which books influenced my writing and how. It doesn’t help that Countermind is a pretty adult novel, so it’s hard to say it was influenced by anything I read as a kid. I’ll say that one of the most formative books I read early in my life was A Wrinkle in Time. What that book taught me was that science fiction may be crammed full of big, cosmic ideas, but it can still be about the characters and their journeys. It taught me that genre fiction should still be character-driven. So I tried to make sure Countermind’s crazy plot also had a human heart pumping at its center. This weird little paranormal cyberpunk thriller is still, at bottom, a drama.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I had a couple works in progress that I’ve had trouble revisiting lately, just due to the current political climate. I started Countermind at a time when things were, if not perfect, at least more optimistic. It was easier to write dystopian literature without getting too bummed out. When I revisit these other projects, I’m going to try to make them a bit more hopeful, even if just because that’s what I need right now. (I’m also getting interested in the current “solarpunk” fad, for the same reasons.)

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

At the end of Stardust, Neil Gaiman writes that though the heroes were happy together, it wasn’t ever-after, “for Time, the thief, eventually takes all things into his dusty storehouse, but they were happy, as these things go, for a long while.”

But my own opinion is a little less certain. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that one of Countermind’s characters doesn’t believe in happy endings, either for-now or ever-after, and is very surprised to end up getting both.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I haven’t been publishing long enough to have an informed opinion from a business standpoint, but, as a consumer of books, it’s been a godsend. You can read anything anywhere at any time without lugging pounds of paper bricks around with you. That’s revolutionary. But for those particular books that have special sentimental value to me, I do like to buy and display “analog” editions. (On that note, if you order Countermind from DSP Publications’ web site, you can get a free digital copy with the physical version, so it’s the best of both worlds!)

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Like I said, I haven’t been publishing long enough to have much perspective on this process. I had lots of ideas about what Countermind’s cover look like, and I passed these along to the cover artist, but I mostly wanted them to have the freedom to surprise me with their own vision. And I’m so glad they did. I fell in love with L.C. Chase’s cover as soon as I saw it. The cool tones give the whole thing a very noir feel. Alan’s fixing the viewer with a guarded, wary look that really captures the character’s personality. And the arrangement of the cover’s elements, with Alan’s face, the Hong Kong skyline, and the text all at right angles to each other, puts the reader off-balance before they even open the book. It’s perfect.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m not sure. I have a few ideas in mind, and a few projects in progress, but it’s a matter of deciding which of them needs to be written. We’ll see!

Blurb 

In a postprivacy future, secrets are illegal and all communication is supervised. Telepaths are registered and recruited by a government with no qualms about invading the minds of its citizens. Fugitive psychics are hunted by the Bureau of Counterpsychic Affairs, or Countermind.

Alan Izaki is one such fugitive, as well as a hacker, grifter, and thief.

Countermind agent Jack Smith is hunting him through the twisted underbelly of Hong Kong.

But Alan possesses a secret so dangerous and profound it will not only shake Smith’s loyalties, but the foundations of their society.

And Alan isn’t the only one on the run. Rogue psychic Arissa binti Noor escapes Countermind, in search of brilliant game designer Feng Huang. She hopes that together, they can destroy the government’s intrusive Senex monitoring system.

Their goals seem at odds, and their lives are destined to collide. When they do, three very different people must question their alliances and their future, because everything is about to change.

Excerpt

It was past midnight, and some parts of Hong Kong actually did sleep at this hour. The pawnshop was near Kwai Chung, its customer base mostly local workers pawning valuables just to squander their money on the races, men who wouldn’t have the resources to track down the goods they’d put up as collateral. Alan had chosen the shop for its proximity to a body of water, and it was just a minute’s hard sprint to the nearest container yard, then through that to the channel.

Alan charged downhill on roads still slick from the afternoon’s rain, gleaming with the reflected glow of the city. No neon signs or electronic billboards, just streetlamps and a few lit office windows. Droplets ran in steady trickling streams off the buildings, canopies, streetlights, AC units. Steel shutters of closed storefronts shimmered wet, and Alan’s skin glistened in the damp air. He didn’t hear any pursuing footsteps, didn’t bother turning his head to check.

He’d only gotten a brief glimpse of the attacker in the pawnshop, but that had been plenty. The man looked just a few years older than Alan, Eurasian, tall and lean, hale, clean-cut, clean-shaven. His attire had been dark but utterly nondescript. There was an impression of a black suit jacket, black slacks, and a black button-down shirt (but no tie, and open at the neck). Alan hadn’t the time for more lingering impressions, but the man would’ve been attractive under more civil circumstances.

The man wasn’t the shop owner, and was too well-dressed to be another crook or a triad member. That probably meant law enforcement, ample reason for Alan to make the quickest possible escape without sparing even a backward glance.

Alan vaulted from the sidewalk over a steel railing, dashed across the street, leapt another rail, and charged down a covered stairway, letting gravity lead his charge toward the water, angling toward the red lights atop the cargo-loading cranes just visible over a row of gently swaying palm trees. He hit the next street with such speed he lost some momentum to a brief stumble. A red-and-silver taxicab blared its horn at him, and Alan ducked under the canopy of a shuttered dim-sum shop to get his bearings. He glanced up at the building corners in the nearest intersection and spotted the closed-circuit cameras. He couldn’t see which way they pivoted in their housings, but didn’t think they’d have a clear look at him where he stood. Just to be safe, he’d have to circle around, keeping shy of major streets if he was to stay clear of any more traffic cams, though his pursuer couldn’t be far behind.

Or was it pursuers? The man had attacked Alan alone, not a standard practice for an officer of one of the world’s most famous police forces. If he was a government agent, he had to know what Alan was, right? And what such agent would be so reckless as to challenge a rogue telepath completely solo? Alan doubted even a state psychic would risk such a confrontation, and this man had given no sign of being a psychic himself, had not attempted any telepathic attacks, relying entirely on physical force. Who was he?

Whatever he was, if he caught Alan, it would mean death or worse. He had no need to know who this man was, only to escape him.

Alan pulled his jacket tight around him and popped the collar up. He turned a corner for a side street with fewer cameras and fewer lights and strolled a leisurely path into the shadow of an elevated highway, traffic rumbling above him. From there, he made his way through a hole in a chain-link fence he’d prepared earlier tonight with the help of his bolt cutters, slipping into the container yard, and then he sprinted across the yard toward freedom.

He ran straight into the agent.

The man stepped around the corner of a container and flashed Alan a razor smile as he kneed him in the stomach, allowing Alan’s own momentum to double him over. Then the man threw Alan into the side of the steel container with a clang that echoed inside his head as his arm was twisted behind his back. Alan was strong for his size, but the agent was using some sort of judo leverage shit. Alan tried to wrench free, nearly succeeded, and then the man compensated for his strength by spinning him into the side of another container.

The man tightened his hold and hissed into Alan’s ear.

“How many counts of resisting arrest?”

Alan gasped, gulped, and tried to talk his way out, forcing the words. “Come on, man. You never said you were arresting me.”

“I thought it was implied. You did flee.”

“After you shot me!”

“With a government-issue ranged electroshock device. Pay attention.”

The agent tripped Alan roughly to the ground and buried his knees in Alan’s back. His hand forced Alan’s face against the concrete, and Alan wheezed as the air was squeezed out of his lungs.

Alan screwed his eyes to the edges of their sockets, trying to see up through the corner of his eye. The light of a passing ship winked between the container towers and slid over the man’s features: dark eyed, dark haired, darkly smiling.

“Resist some more,” the agent said. “I don’t need to excuse brutality, but it helps with the paperwork.”

Alan realized—a bit belatedly and with scant sense of relief—that he was now very much in danger of physical harm.

He expanded his thoughts outward and upward, seeking out the luminescent glow of his assailant’s mind as if reaching for a firefly in the night. He found it, wrapped telepathic fingers around it, and squeezed tight.

There you are, Alan thought at him.

Fleeting impressions of the man’s surface cognitions filtered through the permeable membrane of Alan’s consciousness: mild surprise, then recognition, and then a strange kind of resigned satisfaction.

“And there you are,” the man whispered

.

About the Author

Adrian Randall is a PhD and a dual-class bureaucrat/scientist. A native Floridian, he lives in Alexandria with the love of his life and their many beautiful board games. He has a tenuous grasp on reality, owing to a steady diet of novels, comics, and other distractions. All his ideas start as character backstory for MMOs and RPGs, and he does all his writing while listening to video game soundtracks. So if he’s gaming instead of working on a book, it’s not procrastination, it’s workshopping. He usually spends his free time geeking out about some damn thing or another. You can geek out with him through any of his social media channels. If he doesn’t respond, it means he broke his phone again.

Twitter: @cyberpreppy

Tumblr: cyberpreppy.tumblr.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/cyberpreppy

Rowan McAllister Talks Covers, Victorian Gothic Romance and her latest novel ‘We Met in Dreams’ (guest post)

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We Met in Dreams by Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover artist: Anna Sikorska

Release Date: February 27, 2017

Available for purchase at

           

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Rowan McAllister today talking about her cover for We met in Dreams.  

Welcome, Rowan.

✒︎

Covers, Victorian Gothic Romance and We Met In Dreams by Rowan McAllister

Candlelight flickering off a darkened staircase. Skeletal branches clawing at a blue-black sky. A crumbling castle with one lit window.

Anyone with a love for romance has to have seen at least one cover featuring some or all of these themes. When I made the decision to dive headlong into delightfully spooky and melodramatic genre of the Victorian Gothic Romance, I had dozens of inspiration pics and ideas for my cover. I’d share some of the pics with you here, but unfortunately I don’t own them. Instead, I’ll urge you to Google image search “Victorian Gothic Romance” and “women running from houses.” It’ll be worth the keystrokes. You’ll have an entire screen filled with smudged pencil, pastel, and charcoal drawings of women in flowing white gowns, in varying states of undress, fleeing darkened hulks of stone or racing down stairs clutching candelabras, as dark shadows loom menacingly behind them.  It’s wonderfully moody art.

Now obviously I couldn’t have my hero in a flowing white gown— or I suppose I could have, except that would’ve been an entirely different story— but I wanted the same feel. I wanted that delicious urgency of the fleeing hero and the towering bulk of a darkened and forbidding house. I wanted the decay of winter and the air of neglect, even in a prosperous family’s stately London house. I wanted swooping bats and glowing white apparitions with skeletal hands pressed to window panes… okay I’m going a little over the top here, but you get the gist.

Poor Anna Sikorska, she had to deal with a LOT of “I wants” from me on this one. It’s only once in a blue moon that I have a clear idea of what I want for my cover, and lucky her, she got this one. But she was a trooper and kept at it until this fresh take on the classic theme became reality. I just hope she wasn’t cursing my name by the end of it. And poor Paul Richmond at Dreamspinner Press had to explain to me that there was such a thing as TOO dark a cover. Apparently there’s a little more leeway for ebook covers than ones that will also be sold in print, so I couldn’t go as dark as my soul. I learned something new there— darned reality imposing its rules on my gothic vision. But in the end, I suppose it’s better that you can actually see the cover. That’s kind of important, or so I’ve heard.

A big thanks to Anna for putting up with me and making my beautiful cover, and I hope you all enjoy reading what’s inside We Met In Dreams as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Blurb

In Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.

A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.

This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.

Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.

Genre: Victorian Gothic/Historical European

Page Count/Word Count: 268/98,457

About the Author

 

Rowan McAllister is a woman who doesn’t so much create as recreate, taking things ignored and overlooked and hopefully making them into something magical and mortal. She believes it’s all in how you look at it. In addition to a continuing love affair with words, she creates art out of fabric, metal, wood, stone, and any other interesting scraps of life she can get her hands on. Everything is simply one perspective change and a little bit of effort away from becoming a work of art that is both beautiful and functional. She lives in the woods, on the very edge of suburbia—where civilization drops off and nature takes over—sharing her home with her patient, loving, and grounded husband, her super sweet hairball of a cat, and a mythological beast masquerading as a dog. Her chosen family is made up of a madcap collection of people from many different walks of life, all of whom act as her muses in so many ways, and she would be lost without them.

E-mail: rowanmcallister10@gmail.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rowanmcallister10

Twitter: @RowanMcallister

In the Spotlight: Alpha Delta by R.J. Scott (excerpt)

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Alpha Delta by R.J. Scott
L
ove Lane Books

This book was previously published with All Romance Publishing. There are no additions to the original story, just a change of cover art but due to the demise of All Romance, if you have already purchased this title and require a copy, please email Rachel (rjscott.team@gmail.com) with proof of purchase and she will send you a replacement.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

The Book 

Officer Finn Hallan has never run from a fight. With Niall’s life and love at stake, he’s not about to start now…

Finn Hallan is a member of the elite Norwegian Emergency Response Unit, code name Delta. When the team is sent to respond to a hostage situation on a Oil Platform in the Norwegian Sea, he has to face demons he thought he had buried a long time ago.

Scottish engineer Niall Faulkner’s skills in oil platform decommissioning takes him to the Forseti platform at the worst possible time. When he’s captured by terrorists, his only thought is that he will never get to tell his lover how he really feels.

Can Finn keep Niall alive? Or will they both die at the hands of hijackers in the frigid waters of the Norwegian sea?

Excerpt

Chapter 1

The call came in just past fourteen hundred hours, Erik beating him to ops by about two seconds, both men pulling on vests and arranging holsters.

Finn had been reading, spending the quiet down time before dinner trying to get his head around some of the shit that had gone down today. Time at the Urskar training facility was hard work but it wasn’t hard physical work that was bugging Finn. He knew exactly what it was.

Niall.

They’d talked this morning; he was working on the Forseti platform in the Heidrun oilfield for the next few weeks. They wouldn’t be seeing each other for a while, and that was fine. Finn was good with that. Of course, he didn’t like the fact Finn was flying in this weather. The storm passing through near the Forseti platform was a big one. And yes, he had to admit to himself he’d checked. And that was the problem. He’d checked the storm, he’d worried about the flight, and he was already missing the feisty, nerdy, sexy engineer enough to have it consuming his thoughts. All the what-ifs and the whens, and mostly the whys. He didn’t usually do serious, but Niall could make him change his mind. One guy with a soft voice and a wicked mouth comes along and suddenly Finn was losing control of his touch but don’t keep policy.

Then, this morning he’d fucked up. Big time.

He hadn’t been paying attention and he’d seriously blown things in training. He’d let his guard down and got a helmet full of pink dye with a spot-on head shot from a crowing Erik. It wasn’t so much the kill shot, it was why Finn had been distracted. He’d been thinking about Niall, and not in the I want to fuck that sideways kind of way, but in an I hope he’s okay and I’ll miss him kind of way.

Then Erik had to go and manage to kill him. It was the first time Erik had ever gotten the drop on Finn in training. It had taken three hair washes and vigorous scrubbing to get the pink out of his hair and off his left temple.

Fucker.

When they reached the briefing room Erik grinned at him, that shit-eating grin that told Finn he wouldn’t be living it down that Erik’s team had taken first blood in the mini war game they were taking part in. The grin didn’t last long, subsiding as soon as Cap walked in. After all, it didn’t matter what had happened this morning; now they were all about whatever had caused them to be alerted.

“About thirty minutes ago four bodies were found at the Grane oil terminal, identified as security assigned to the NorsDev Forseti Platform.”

Cap stared straight at Finn and for a brief moment Finn wasn’t really understanding the words. Then one thing hit him square in the chest. Forseti. That was where Niall was.

Rising to his feet he didn’t know what to say as fear gripped him. “Four?”

“We have reason to believe these four men were replaced so that a team of hijackers could get onto Forseti.”

“That’s being decom’d.” Erik sounded puzzled. “What kind of collateral does an empty oil platform have?”

“Only four?” Finn interjected. “What about the engineers? Niall Faulkner and his brother Ewan?”

Erik looked up at him and Finn could see the moment the information made sense in his head.

“Fuck. Niall is on Forseti?”

“Both of them… Niall and Ewan. Did they go? Does someone know if he…?” The rest of the team all stared at him, Cap included, and Finn realized he was coming off as a mad man. He subsided. No one could get information out if Finn was raving like a fucking lovesick moron.

“The pilots are back, they took one engineer and four security replacements. So, souls on the platform are one engineer, six skeleton crew, and the four security replacements. Eleven souls in all.”

The bottom fell out of Finn and dread stole his breath. Was it Niall or Ewan on Forseti? With who? Terrorists?

“Intel is showing no communications, or demands, but chatter has it that this is an isolated cell connected to the Hofstad Network out of Denmark.” Cap slid his finger on the laptop and the screen changed behind him to show four faces. Three fair-haired, one dark, all in fatigues with long addendums at the bottom of the photo. Ex-Marine, one former SAS. The names a blur. Except for one.

Svein Roberg.

“He’s dead,” Erik said in disbelief, echoing Finn’s thoughts exactly. Roberg had a long history of fighting the good fight for whichever side paid him most. Ex-Special Forces, he had finally been taken down by the ERU two years before, just after Finn joined the team. In fact, it had been Finn who faced him down after tracking him to a small holding in Alta. They’d chased him to the Alta Dam, where the murdering fucker had died.

The bastard had tried extortion in the name of environmental concern and had killed three oil workers in an explosion at one of the dry land containment depots. Finn would never forget Svein’s face. He didn’t even fight when Erik and Finn had him cornered, simply dropped his weapon and raised his hands.

In the best traditions of all grandstanding bad guys he laughed then said, “I live to fight another day,” repeating this over and over as he fell to his knees. There had been madness in his words, and cunning in his silver eyes. Only when Finn had stepped forward did the madness manifest in a blur of motion, the two men grappling for the weapon and a bullet leaving Finn’s gun and carving into Svein’s neck, blood spurting. Time had slowed and Finn had watched in horror and a curious fascination as the terrorist leaped in a grotesque twist of muscles over the dam wall and down into the churning water below.

“They never found his body,” Finn said softly. But Finn hadn’t cared then. The fucker had a bullet in his neck and had fallen over six hundred feet. He had to have been dead.

“Until four weeks ago his file was silent, but chatter indicated there was movement and he was implicated right in the center of it all.”

“And no one thought to brief us?” Finn demanded hotly. “Why the fuck not?”

Several others in the team, Erik included, added their alarm.

Cap held up a hand and quieted the room. “Wheels up in ten,” he said.

And that was it. They knew nothing. They didn’t know why Forseti was the platform involved or why Svein Roberg had shown up. But, whatever information they received, they would be ready for action when they knew what the hell to do.

Erik grabbed his arm as Finn made to leave. “Finn?” he asked. The question was loaded. It was, are you sure you’re okay, do you know the man you’ve been seeing is on Forseti, and can you handle this, all wrapped up in one word.

Finn nodded. Didn’t matter how he felt or what he actually said to voice any of it, he was going with the team and he wasn’t putting doubt in Erik’s head.

“Let’s get this done.”

Author Bio

RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the partners who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

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