Feature – Under the Parisian Sky by Alli Sinclair

UNDER THE PARISIAN SKY
by Alli Sinclair
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Pub Date: 7/25/2017
In the City of Light, one dancer must confront her fears about love and loss before she can step into a brighter future…

Lily Johannson has returned to Paris, the city that broke her heart and destroyed her ballet career, with two goals in mind: to overcome the grief surrounding her fiancé’s death, and to make amends with her estranged sister, Natalie, also a ballerina. But when Lily meets charming composer Yves Rousseau, he is convinced she has a third mission—as his muse…
Struggling to finish a score about an infamous Ballets Russes dancer from 1917, Yves believes Lily is meant to help him. Despite her resistance, she is swept once more into the exhilarating arms of the dance—and into Yves’ passionate embrace. But when her sister is cast as the infamous dancer and begins to imitate her tragic life, she soon goes missing. Now Lily and Yves must set out to find her—and along the way face their own demons, while also discovering that art, like love, should not be abandoned so easily…
Excerpt:
Making her way to the stage door, Lily’s heart bashed against her chest when she realized the doorman was the same one from when she was last here. She doubted he’d remember her as she’d only been with the ballet three weeks, but seeing someone from her ballet days brought all the painful memories back to the surface. Determined to keep it together, she put on her best smile and said in cruddy French, “Hello. I am Natalie Johansson’s sister. Could I please see her?”
He studied her from under a veranda of gray brows. “Lily? Welcome back! It is nice to see you. The last time you were here I didn’t get the chance to say I’m sorry for—”
“Thank you, Bernard,” she said. His English had improved dramatically since the last time they’d met while her school-girl French had deteriorated rapidly. “How is Maryanne? Fabien?”
His wide smile lit up his face. “They are very good, thank you. Maryanne’s clothing business is doing well. Maybe I retire soon. Fabien is engaged.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” Although they had only known each other a short time, she loved hearing about his wife and son. A tinge of sadness fell on her, realizing the burgeoning friendship with Bernard had been a casualty of the accident. “I am so happy for them. For you.” She fiddled with the strap of her backpack, her lips pursed. “So, I was wondering if—”
“Your sister is in rehearsal room one if they have not finished already.”
He opened the heavy metal door with an ominous creak. She stepped across the threshold, then stopped, her nose tingling with heady scents from the past. When she’d fled Paris, she’d thrown out everything that reminded her of ballet, including makeup and hair products. Yet here she stood, voluntarily immersing herself in the aromas of a world she’d tried so hard to escape.
Forcing herself to move, Lily kept her head down as she navigated the narrow passageways she knew too well. Finally, she reached the rehearsal room and halted out front. Ballet dancers sauntered up and down the hallway, oblivious to the turmoil swelling inside Lily’s stomach. Classical music drifted through the thin wooden door and her fingers hovered over the handle. Could she deal with more rejection? Was it really worth all this trouble?
Of course it was. Even though Natalie had cast her aside like a broken doll, Lily missed her sister. They’d lived, breathed, and loved ballet together since they could walk. How many hours a week had they traveled with their mother to attend ballet classes in the next district? How many nights had they stayed up late, snuggled together in bed, talking about ballet, dreaming, rehearsing? Lily had thought that special bond would never break. How wrong she’d been.
Lily rapped on the door and it swung open. A tall, lean gentleman with salt and pepper hair raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”
“Hello. I’m looking for—”
“Tell her I’m not here!” Natalie screamed from a hidden corner.
Lily tried to edge her way through the door but the man blocked her path. “Please, I’m her sister.”
“You are the Lily?” He stared down his nose. “She does not wish to speak with you.”
“Listen, I’ve come all the way from Australia and—”
The door yanked open and Natalie stood in her mauve ballet practice gear, a heavy scowl marring her delicate features, her blond hair sticking to her olive skin. “I told you I don’t want to talk. Now go away!”
The door slammed with a resounding thud. Lily stared at the wood that separated her from Natalie. The tiny ball of anger and frustration swelled in her belly.
A couple of young dancers covered their mouths as they giggled and scurried down the hallway. She didn’t blame the dancers for finding amusement in the goings on, after all, temper tantrums from principal dancers weren’t uncommon. In fact, Lily had been considered an anomaly due to her lack of screaming and demands. That was one of the reasons the Bohème Ballet had pursued her so intently. That, and her partnership on and off stage with Aiden. It had been a coup for the ballet company to sign them together, especially as Bohème had been competing against more famous and affluent companies. But the allure of Paris, the City of Love, had been enough to convince her and Aiden to fly halfway around the world and start a new life—a life that had only been in existence for a moment in time until it was savagely ripped away in one stupid, painful instant. And it appeared life hadn’t finished doling out more difficulties.
After wiping her hands on her jeans, she adjusted her backpack and negotiated the passageways one more time. There was no point in hanging around. Natalie had made herself clear, yet again, and no amount of stalking would get her to listen. Lily needed time to plan how to approach this sister who felt like a stranger. Over the past couple years, Natalie had grown bitter, selfish, and accusatory, so unlike the sweet girl who had once adored her older sister. Now spite raced through Natalie’s veins and the pièce de résistance had been when she’d joined the Bohème Ballet Company. Natalie had deliberately pursued her sister’s dream, an act that sliced through Lily’s heart. There had to be a reason for her sister’s insane change of attitude and blatant disregard for Lily’s feelings. What had snapped in Natalie? Lily needed to find out, no matter how painful or difficult it would be. If she didn’t, she’d remain caught in the past, unable to move into the future, whatever that may be.
Fighting back tears of frustration, she smiled at Bernard, who opened the door.
“I hope we will see you again soon, Mademoiselle Johansson.”
“We will see, Bernard, we will see.” She squinted in the bright sunlight, pulled out her sunglasses, and waved to the doorman as she took off down the street.
Lily hurried back across Pont au Change, happy the theater was behind her. Reaching the other side of the river, she kept her head down, her feet pounding the pavement even though her lower back ached. Her legs and arms pumped and she reveled in the free movement of her limbs, something she’d once feared was lost.
The sun had dipped behind the tall buildings and Lily shivered, the perspiration on her body multiplying the effect of the cool evening air. With one rapid footstep after another, she powered on, barely glancing at the crowds exiting their workplaces and closing up shop. It wasn’t until she reached the neighborhood of Vanves, that she realized how far she’d walked. With all the twisting and turning down avenues and alleys, she’d walked for at least an hour. Sure, her back ached, but the rest of her body felt so much better. Standing on the corner of Rue Jean Bleuzen and Rue Danton, staring at the headlights of gridlocked cars, she realized where her feet had led her. She sucked in her breath. Why had she allowed her body to dictate her actions? Once, it had been a tool she’d used to express feelings, especially joy, but this time, just like it had since the accident, her body had betrayed her.
If she walked a few blocks from where her traitorous feet stood, she’d be at Avenue Victor Hugo, the site where she lost the man she’d planned to marry and share a bright and starry future. Even Victor Hugo’s name made her shudder. Aiden had adored Hugo’s works, especially The Hunchback of Notre Dame and he’d insisted, in his charming and convincing way, that they should go and check out the avenue named after one of his favorite authors. After a long day of rehearsals, she hadn’t been in the mood but decided to go just to humor Aiden. Perhaps if she’d dug her heels in more they wouldn’t have gone and he wouldn’t …
A cacophony of horns drew her back to the present as stationary drivers rolled down their windows and screamed at each other. Grateful she’d halted her own progress on foot, Lily turned and started the long trek back to the apartment. Even though she’d had plenty of time on her flight from Melbourne to Paris, she hadn’t given any thought as to how a visit to Aiden’s site would play out. She certainly hadn’t envisioned an impromptu visit during Parisian peak hour but really, what would be the perfect way to visit the place where she’d lost a piece of her heart forever? Her clammy skin and thudding heart told her she was far from ready to go to the avenue, and with nausea swelling in her belly, she suspected the timing was not right and most likely never would be.
Alli Sinclair is a multi award-winning author who spent her early adult years travelling the globe, intent on becoming an Indiana Jones in heels. She scaled mountains in Nepal, Argentina, and Peru, rafted the Ganges, and rode a camel in the Sahara. Argentina and Peru became her home for a few years and when she wasn’t working as a mountain or tour guide, Alli could be found in the dance halls dancing the tango, salsa, merengue, and samba.

All of these adventures made for fun storytelling and this is when she discovered her love of writing. Alli’s stories capture the romance and thrill of exploring new destinations and cultures that also take readers on a journey of discovery.

Alli volunteers as an author role model with Books in Homes promoting literacy and reading amongst young people.
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Feature – Strike by Cora Brent

Strike

Gentry Generations, #1
by Cora Brent
Publication Date: August 21, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon Print

A summer job.
That’s all it was supposed to be.
It never crossed my mind that I was about to collide with a man who would obliterate every plan I ever made.
My mother has always warned me that love is like a lightning bolt and it strikes without warning. But I had no intention of getting struck by either lightning or love anytime soon. I’d be too busy finishing my journalism degree and landing a job in a city far more sophisticated than Phoenix.
There was certainly nothing in the cards about getting involved with an ex-ballplayer turned nightclub boss.
He was too old for me, too complicated, too distracting.
On the surface we had almost nothing in common except the draw of an overpowering physical connection.
The seasonal job at a local resort was going to be temporary.
He was going to be temporary.
But insufferably sexy, arrogant Dalton Tremaine has other ideas.
And the harder I fall for him the more I can’t find a good reason to resist giving him everything he wants…

*STRIKE is the first book in a brand new sexy spinoff series from NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author Cora Brent. No cliffhanger! May be read as a stand alone.

About Cora Brent

Cora Brent was born in a cold climate and escaped as soon as it was legally possible. Now, she lives in the desert with her husband, two kids and a prickly pear cactus she has affectionately named ‘Spot’. Cora’s closet is filled with boxes of unfinished stories that date back her 1980’s childhood and all her life she has dreamed of being an author. Amazingly, she is now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling writer of contemporary romance and begs not to be awakened from this dream.

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Feature – Ten Days with the Highlander by Hayson Manning

Meet the Author:

I love Princess Bride, Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives – the drama is deliciously addictive. Big Bang Theory but will take Wolowitz over Cooper. Star Trek not Star Wars. Undercover Boss, Secret Millionaire – any story that shows the little guy making it. I follow the Buffalo Bills like a religion. I am spellbound by showjumping and equestrian eventing. I love curling up and reading all books – no genre is off-topic. I like ironing, I hate peas, love donkeys, I play a killer game of Scrabble. I will often be heading towards the fridge for another Diet Coke. I eat nothing with legs and believe wine goes with everything, oh and I’m an expert at finding new and inventive ways to avoid exercise.

I live in the sparkly beachside suburb of Redondo Beach in California with my infuriating shoe-dropping husband and my two boys who speak in mystifying grunts.

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

Go-getter Georgia Paxton has ten days to acquire a quaint hotel in the Scottish Highlands for her travel accommodation company before she’s off on her next grand adventure. Too bad the sexy, broody Scot who owns the place is dead against the idea…and that she’s in very real danger of losing their little bet to see who can convince whom first.

There’s no way Callum MacGregor is going to let the gorgeous American turn his tiny hometown over to bored tourists looking to satisfy their Outlander fantasies. He only has ten days to convince her to slow down and see the magic of the town and its people. If he succeeds, he won’t have to run her out of the county. But if he fails, Georgia might run off with his heart.

Excerpt:

“What are we doing?” she asked against his mouth.

He pulled back and stared into her stormy eyes. “I think it’s called kissing.”

“Oh. I’ve heard of it.” She paused. “I like it. A lot.” She regarded him. “You taste good. Like an ice cream cone I want to lick forever,” she murmured, then leaned forward and sucked his bottom lip between hers.

He shifted, his zipper denting tender flesh. “What flavor?” He nuzzled her neck and bumps flew across her skin.

“All flavors of the rainbow. Sweet, salty, and with a hint of you, and before you ask I don’t know what that taste is, but I’m calling it delicious.”

“That’s a lot of flavors.” He cupped her face and stared into her liquid eyes.

I wish you were mine, Georgia Paxton.

She snuggled deeper into him, their combined heat misting the windows and possibly the countryside.

He glanced out the window. The rain had eased to a steady drizzle, and the road appeared manageable. He glanced at his watch and pulled a hand through his hair. They’d been out way later than he’d planned, but Callum had enjoyed every minute of her company. “I think we can get going.”

“Are you sure? I’m not sure if I’ve got this kissing thing down. I need to practice.” She wiggled in his lap.

When you put it that way. He glanced at his watch again. Damn, he wanted to spend hours exploring her body with his hands, with his mouth, map it until he knew every quiver, every intake of breath, every moan. Right now, with her hands in his hair, her amazing sunshine scent was making him punch-drunk.

“If I don’t leave now, I don’t think we’ll be leaving for a while.” He cast a glance in the backseat at his goat. “I don’t want an audience.”

She blinked away the haze. “Absolutely not. Poor Delilah.” She did one last wiggle against him, then crawled over to the passenger seat.

“Can we practice kissing later, but without company?” She lowered her voice. “I was enjoying that.”

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Feature – Pretty Wicked by Kelly Charron

Pretty Wicked
by Kelly Charron
Genre: YA Killer Thriller

The daughter of a local police detective, 15-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.

But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects.

Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price.

Mature YA. *Some graphic content

This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.”
-Eileen Cook | Author of WITH MALICE

“Pretty Wicked is fresh, thrilling, and deeply haunting. I’ve never read anything like it! The story escalates from page one and will leave your pulse pounding as you wonder just how far Ryann will go. 5/5 stars.”
-Tiana Warner | Author of Ice Massacre & Ice Crypt

Excerpt:

Some people are called to certain things in their life. That’s what hunting is for me. An urge. A desire.

The closest thing I have to a calling. My name is Ryann Wilkanson. I’m fifteen years old.

And I’m a killer.

v v v v

It was hard to pick my first.

Call me sentimental, but it had to be just right.

I knew what I wanted. What I needed. Someone worth the risk, the challenge. Somebody who deserved it. Now, I’m not talking about the horrible, abusive assholes you see on TV. I wanted someone who I thought deserved it…

And to be honest, that could’ve been just about anybody. Some people might think it’s odd to contemplate killing someone, but it was the most natural thing in the world to me. I didn’t dare talk about it—I somehow knew that much—but my thoughts raced with vivid, red-tinted images.

While my fantasies were fun, I had to wait. I still lacked the skill and organization to actually go through with it.

And, as I matured, I realized part of me was still hesitant. A piece of the puzzle was missing. It was as though I was waiting for permission. Something to give me the final push into action.

Funnily enough, I got that that clarity six years ago, when I was nine. My dad thought he was simply giving me a ride to school, but he initiated the defining moment of my life.

I remember it like it was yesterday. He’d just come off nights and wasn’t in the best of moods when my mom asked him to drive me and Bri. I’d raced to the car first, winning shotgun, leaving Brianna to storm behind me. She was a sore loser, and it only made my grin bigger.

We were just a few blocks from the house when Dad started with one of his commentaries on all that was wrong with society.

“Jesus. People like that make me sick.”

We had stopped at a red light, and I spotted a guy standing on the corner with a sign that read Please Help. At first I felt kind of bad for him, and I didn’t understand why Dad was upset. “At least he’s not dealing drugs,” I suggested.

“Brilliant observation. Maybe we could put that on a T-shirt for him,” Bri said. My father laughed and my stomach dropped. She never wasted an opportunity to make me look stupid.

Dad grunted. “Don’t be naïve, Ry. He’s probably scraping enough together to get his fix. People like that are after one thing—and it’s not a job.” He rolled his eyes, disgusted. Not a minute later, while we were still waiting at the light, a kid in a fancy sports car passed us. “See, look at that. Punk probably had it handed to him from Mommy and Daddy. He’s what—seventeen? Probably hasn’t worked a day in his whole goddamn life. Entitled brat. This is the problem with the world. You got two lazy bums on opposite ends of the spectrum, and neither are worth their salt.”

My father didn’t have a whole lot of empathy for anybody, and he certainly didn’t entertain excuses. I had to be the best if I wanted him to love me.

“People need to either lead, follow—”

“Or get out of the way,” I finished. He patted me on the head. I knew this rant well and kind of understood my father’s reasoning. The homeless guy couldn’t even be bothered to walk up and down the rows of stopped cars to beg. He just stood there with an empty cup. He really was a waste.

I fought the urge to point out to my dad that I was nothing like those people—and never would be—but I knew he wouldn’t care. He loved me, but nothing I did seemed to impress him, especially since my older sister Brianna, the golden child, had perfected everything before I even had a chance to try.

I had to do something really big to make an impression.

I had to be a leader.

In the car, all those years ago, I realized that my desires could turn into something much more.

Those entitled, useless people my dad despised were taking our hard-earned money, space, and air. And I was someone with deadly urges who wasn’t afraid to do something about it. Not everyone could say that. But unfortunately, I would have to wait. I was much too young to execute my plans in the way I wanted.

My thoughts, however, were uninhibited, and I became enamored with the power and control that selecting the right kill could bring. The foreplay was intoxicating. I daydreamed about the countless ways I could do it. About all the places I could sneak up and strike. About the legacy I would leave behind. For years I researched and studied serial killers— or as I liked to call them, The Greats. Most of The Greats hadn’t started until well into their adulthood. Call me an overachiever, but I wanted more kills in less time. I had all the qualities required: above-average intelligence, inside information (Dad was a cop), and a sweet cherub face.

But I also had something more. Tenacity. I knew what I wanted, and come hell or high water, I was going to get it. By fifteen, the thirst inside me could finally be quenched.

Cue my first planned victim—a snotty little brat who lived only a few streets away from me. Olivia McMann. Ugh. She was exhausting. Spoiled. Whiny. Brianna used to babysit her. I’d be dragged along because my parents usually worked overtime at their respective jobs. I was twelve and old enough to stay home alone, but they insisted. Like I had nothing better to do.

Brianna would be online with her friends or texting her boyfriend, and she’d stick Livy with me. Olivia wouldn’t leave me alone. One night she pestered me for hours on end until I lost it on her.

Then she got the quivering lip and teary eyes and went crying to Bri.

Bri’s voice ripped across the room. “Ryann, what did you do now?”

“Nothing! Why do you always assume it was me? Maybe Livy is being a little crybaby over absolutely nothing,” I said, arms crossed tightly across my chest.

The brat came running up behind me. “You’re mean, Ryann. I hate you!”

I swept my hair into a ponytail and turned my back to her.

Death glare in full force, Brianna dug into me. “Why are you being such a pest? Leave Olivia alone already. Go find something to do, and don’t think for one second I’m giving you any of the money.”

She proceeded to get Olivia some licorice. A reward for her evilness. Maybe they were in on it together and shared private laughs while discussing different ways to torture me.

Brianna was seventeen at the time, and she hated me. No matter how hard I tried, she always dismissed me like I was an annoying pain in her ass.

“Not everything is my fault, you know,” I said, determined to stand my ground.

“Well, she’s not the one in my face right now. Go play with her for an hour until her bedtime, and maybe I won’t tell Mom.” Smiling smugly, Bri tilted her head. I wanted to punch her. As soon as we were out of her sight, Olivia stuck her tongue out at me and danced around, joyous in her victory.

“See, I told you I’d get you in trouble. I always get my way. You have to do what I say.” She laughed.

I promised myself I’d never forget.

Back then, I’d imagined choking her or holding one of her mom’s embroidered pillows over her face until her squirming stopped. I knew her parents were well-off. Only the best for their princess. Olivia was the type of kid who tantrumed, tattled, and fake-cried to get what she wanted, no matter the cost to anyone who got in her way. Olivia was going to turn into the same kind of spoiled, manipulative bitch I’d seen time and again at school.

I knew how to deal with someone like her.

After all, I had killed.

Once.

Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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