Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Excerpt from Arthur Jeon, author of Snowflake

 

 


YA. Political thriller. Climate thriller. Coming of age.

Date Published: May 18, 2020

Publisher: Global Animal (Indie publisher)



EDITOR'S CHOICE,

Booklife ★ NOTABLE BOOK, Blue Ink Review

A scholarship student at a private high school decides he must kill the president as an act of environmental protection.

18-year-old Ben Wallace didn’t set out to become an environmental activist, let alone a presidential assassin. But after a mind-altering experience and two near tragedies, Ben discovers some facts about earth’s rapid global warming and none of it is good news:

◆ “A Species Goes Extinct Every 20 Minutes, 26,000 A Year”–

NY Times

◆ “Worldwide, 7 Million People A Year Die from Air Pollution” –

Science Daily

◆ “Humankind Has Wiped Out 60% of All Animals Since 1970” –

The Guardian

Ben becomes outraged by the president’s climate change lies, attacks on climate science, and destruction of the natural world. He decides there is only one solution—a desperate, but necessary act of environmental activism and social justice to protect his generation—Ben must kill POTUS.

At his exclusive private school, Ben becomes a loner, self-isolated from the other students who appear—on Instagram anyway—not to have a care in the world. Not a single student seems to notice the planet is burning. It's all too much denial and lies—he's got to act! Skipping his meds and therapist to prepare for his mission, the actions of this teenage vegan stress-tests the line between madness and morality.

During the six weeks leading up to his assassination of the President of the United States, Ben realizes he’ll never get close enough to kill the president with a gun. Instead, he hatches a realistic hi-tech strategy, meticulously prepping for the daunting challenge he faces to assassinate a president.

Throughout this controversial climate change novel, Ben grapples with the philosophical, practical, and moral reasons that make his radical actions necessary. Mr. Hale, Ben's STEM teacher, and a former Navy Seal sees that his best student is struggling and attempts to take Ben under his wing. But Hale makes a fateful mistake by ignoring the signs of Ben's unraveling.

With a narrative structure that springs from Ben's brief journal entries, a ritual that helps him process his overactive mind into a singular confessional voice, the events tighten into a gripping suspense thriller racing to a shocking conclusion. For those who feel like its young protagonist, angry and helpless as we blow past irreversible tipping points, the novel is an urgent battle cry—if not to take up arms, then to become a climate change activist fighting against humankind’s extinction.

WARNING: Snowflake, a Cli-Fi novel and political thriller, is a work of contemporary historical fiction—it swims the current of America's craziest cultural waters and terrifying global warming facts. But the climate science Ben cites is real, the politics are true, and the president’s attacks against the environment are accurate. So, as it promotes the truth about climate change, some may find Snowflake a dark and disturbing novel.⚠



EXCERPT:

I’m trying not to bug out, downloading this horrible day in a damn Kimpton Boutique Hotel in Westwood because Dad had some points on a credit card. The hotel advertises “Wilshire Chic,” and I’m up on the roof deck with a tiny pool, watching fires rim the distant hills under a nuclear bomb of smoke. Couples drink twenty-dollar “craft cocktails,” like somebody spent a year woodworking them into existence. Like nothing is wrong. And for now, for them, I guess nothing is.


About the Author

Working in Hollywood as a WGA writer, Arthur Jeon sold many scripts, including thrillers to Warner Bros, before becoming an author. Random House published two of his non-fiction books: City Dharma: Keeping Your Cool in the Chaos; and Sex, Love & Dharma: Finding Love Without Losing Your Way. Both books apply mindfulness to the stresses of modern life.

Arthur's love of animals led him to co-creating the non-profit Global Animal Foundation (globalanimal.org). This animal welfare work exposed him to the alarming habitat destruction and extinction rates that generated the idea for Snowflake, his debut novel. Arthur Jeon has a BA in Humanities from Harvard Extension and an MFA in screenwriting from USC Film School.


Contact Links

Website

Goodreads


Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble



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Guest post by Saurav Dutt, author of The Winter Song - win an ebook!

 


Join us for this tour from Jan 25 to Feb 12, 2021!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Winter Song (a novel) by Saurav Dutt
CategoryAdult Fiction (18 +),  170 pages
Genre:  Romance
PublisherAmazon Publishing
Release date:   December, 2020
Tour dates: January 25 to February 12, 2021
Content Rating:  PG-13. In a few places there is some moderate bad language.
 

Book Description:

From the acclaimed Author of 'The Butterfly Room' comes a powerful afterlife drama conveying how great gifts can be hidden in death and how they can bear fruit in our lives if we have the faith to let them unfold.

Somewhere between the mountains and the mist in North India, a widower must reconcile himself to the loss and grief that haunts him after the recent death of his wife.

Unhinged by grief, anger, and guilt, John Perera has set off on a journey, a journey to honour the love of his life and to fulfill the promise he made to her to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death of their son. It is a journey of extraordinary self-discovery that will take him to the extremities of his soul and question all he believes about life, death, and faith.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Amazon.uk

Meet the Author:

Saurav Dutt is an Author, Political Columnist and Human Rights Campaigner. A journalist in three continents, his acclaimed debut novel 'The Butterfly Room' explored issues of domestic violence and homophobia within South Asian communities and has been showcased alongside leading political figures and human rights campaigners. His work for human rights and charity campaign work has taken Dutt to speaking engagements at the WEF, IKWRO, IWN, Houses of Parliament and TEDx. After exploring the issue of psychological abuse and domestic violence in 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' Dutt was commissioned by a major Hollywood production house to pen the official novelization of the major motion picture 'Tiger' (starring Golden Globe winning and Academy Award nominated actor Mickey Rourke) and he commemorated the centenary of the infamous Amritsar Massacre in India with 'Garden of Bullets: Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh' which was featured in TIME magazine. TIGER is the biographical account of Parminder Singh Nagra, a trailblazing Sikh boxer who fought successfully for the right to compete in the ring with his beard, an essential part of his faith. A syndicated political columnist, Dutt writes for the International Business Times, The Times of Israel, Human Events, and American Herald Tribune. He has featured on CNN, GQ, Huffington Post, BBC television and radio, RT (Russia Today), Press TV, Sky News and more. He resides in the United Kingdom, Los Angeles, and India.

connect with author: amazon ~ twitter ~ facebook




Coping with grief is a difficult task for anybody, leaving behind stubborn memories, regrets, refashioning pain in multiple ways that bury themselves deep into your life in ways you cannot comprehend. Writing about it is another battle altogether.

I knew when I began putting together ‘A Winter Song’ that it would be a troublesome, mentally draining journey but I believe the best books mirror life and the human conscience, they should ask something deeper about the human condition and take us on a journey that resonates.

Of course, books should be about escapism too and there are millions of books about a multitude of subjects, but how many stay with you long after you’ve left the pages behind? That’s what I wanted to aim for in this story, that of a widower who undergoes a ‘labour of love’ to prove to himself just how much he loved his wife. The biggest problem, and regret for him, is that he never told her this enough while she was alive; but firmly believes she is looking on in the afterlife watching to see if he will stay true to his word. He believes he can communicate with her, but is it all a figment of his imagination or is he only choosing to hear what he wants to hear?

Another element of the story is the relationship between father and son, an important relationship that can go south if it is not properly maintained, cultivated and nurtured. The widower in my story also has to contend with the loss of his son and to deal with the fact that he always felt he would go first, that his younger wife and son would outlive him. As well as a meditation on grief, ‘The Winter Song’ is also part detective story as the father tries to confirm his belief that the death was not mere coincidence. 

So what does a person do when they become a survivor? I wanted to explore the concept of survivor’s guilt in that sense and to delve into the shadows. It wasn’t a comfortable ride by any stretch of the imagination and I hope that my readers will find a sliver of solace in the pages of the book, something that might help them come to terms with a regret that pinned itself upon the surface of their own life perhaps.

After all art has a moral responsibility, not just to entertain, but to tell us something deeper about ourselves and to cause us to reflect, to ponder, to wonder, and to find answers held deep within. What will you feel when you have the left the pages of ‘The Winter Song’ behind you?


Tour Schedule:

Jan 25 - Cover Lover Book Review - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jan 25 - Rockin' Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Jan 26 - Working Mommy Journal - book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 26 - Viviana MacKade - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Jan 26 - Pass Me That Book - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Jan 27 - Jazzy Book Reviews - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jan 27 - I'm All About Books - book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 28 - Deborah-Zenha Adams - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Jan 28 - Sefina Hawke's Books - book spotlight
Jan 28 - Stephanie Jane - book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 29 -
 Books for Books - book spotlight
Feb 1 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 1 - Splashes of Joy - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 2 - A Mama's Corner of the World - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 2 - 100 Pages A Day - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 3 - Literary Flits - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 3 - I'm Shelfish - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 4 - Locks, Hooks and Books - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 5 - She Just Loves Books - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 8 - Hall Ways Blog - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 9 - Westveil Publishing - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 10 - Books Lattes & Tiaras - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 10 - High Society Book Reviews & Club - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 11 - Book World Reviews - book spotlight
Feb 11 - The bibliophilic world - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 12 - Laura's Interests - book spotlight / giveaway

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New Release Blitz: The Reluctant Royal by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead

 

The Reluctant Royal Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Word Count: 93,492 Book Length: SUPER NOVEL Pages: 352 Genres: CONTEMPORARY, GAY, GLBTQI, ROYALS, THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

 
As an unseen enemy draws near, a royal bodyguard must choose between duty and love. Risking his life to save a princess is all in a day’s work for Sergeant Joe Wenlock, a Close Protection Officer detailed to protect the royal family. After months of recovery following his brush with death, Joe’s ready to return to duties. But Alejandro Fuente-Sastre, as infuriating as he is fabulous, is the last royal Joe wants to be assigned to. Alejandro isn’t quite the sort of queen that the British royal family is used to, but when Joe learns that Her Majesty’s step-grandson is also drag bombshell Paloma Picante, it makes his job a whole lot tougher. But is there more to Alejo than sulking and sequins? When Alejandro’s life is threatened by an unseen tormentor who progresses from internet trolling to arson and violence, Joe must keep his charge safe from harm. Living in close quarters with the man he shouldn’t be falling for, Joe begins to discover his true self. But as Alejandro’s enemy prowls ever nearer, Joe must make the impossible choice between duty and love. Reader advisory: This book contains instances of homophobia and homophobic language, cyberbullying and threats, harassment, terrorism, drug use and abuse, Islamophobia and suicide. There are mentions of domestic abuse, including physical, emotional and gaslighting.

Excerpt

Joe took another sip of tonic water. He wished it contained gin, because being the only sober person at the table was hardly his idea of fun, but as he watched the bottle of champagne being passed around, he knew he didn’t really want any alcohol anyway. He couldn’t go back to work the worse for wear. Not after months of sick leave. Best foot forward, as his dad would say. And it wasn’t only his decision not to drink that made Joe an oddity at the table. These were all Wendy’s friends, out for her birthday. Solicitors, legal types, who’d spent most of the evening already talking shop. Joe looked on, his mind on other things. Would he cope on his first day back? Would they trust him to ever do a good job again? “So, Joe, we’re taking bets on who you’re going to be coddling next week!” Wendy put her second bottle of Prosecco on the table and settled into her seat. Her leg brushed Joe’s momentarily and she shifted, putting air between them again. “Izzy thinks one of the Fergie duo. Barnaby’s bet his bonus on Wills and Kate. I think it’s going to be the queen. The top job for a top bobby!” “I don’t know yet.” Joe shrugged. “Maybe one of the corgis?” “I bet you do know, and you’re teasing us!” Wendy’s friend Jemima brayed. “Have you signed the Official Secrets Act?” Joe turned the plastic stirrer through his fizzing drink, rattling the ice cubes against the glass. He didn’t pester Wendy’s friends about confidential matters, so why did they think he was fair game? “As you know, if I had, I wouldn’t be allowed to say.” “Whoever it is,” Wendy told them, “let’s hope they don’t put my poor old hubby in hospital again! He’s getting too old to play the action hero!” Wendy’s friends laughed, and Joe tried to look happy, but he really didn’t want to be reminded of the accident. The headlamps coming straight for him in the evening darkness—and after he’d pushed the Duchess of Albany out of the way, there had been no time for Joe to leap aside. Just that crushing pain as the car slammed into him. Joe had slumped over the bonnet and found himself eye to eye with the idiot who’d just tried to deliberately run down the duchess. “He’s not that old!” Verity giggled. She patted Joe’s leg and he tried not to flinch. “And still in fine form, too, Wendy, you lucky thing!” “Lucky old me!” Wendy’s smile looked like a grimace. How would she know what form her husband was in when it had been over six months since they’d so much as kissed, let alone more? She refilled her glass and whispered to Joe, “For God’s sake, have a real drink.” “Come on, you know I can’t,” Joe replied. “I can’t risk it. First day back and all that.” “It’s my birthday.” Her pink lips grew thin and she drew in a deep, sharp breath, as sharp as her fresh blonde bob. Then she put her lips to his ear and hissed, “Stop showing me up, Joe, have a drink.” “I’m drinking a stunt gin and tonic. That’s enough.” Joe held up the glass. It had the brand name of a well-known gin printed down its side. “They do tests, you know. I want to be nice and clean when they poke through my bodily fluids, thank you very much.” “Barnaby!” Wendy subtly turned away from her husband, the centre of attention all over again. He was dismissed, just as he had been so many times over the five years of their miserable married life. “So, we’re all dying to know how your Tokyo merger’s going. It’s all everyone’s talking about. Tell us all the latest from the front line of big money!” Joe sat his glass down on the table. The last thing he cared about was Barnaby and his bloody merger, which he’d heard snippets of for weeks as Wendy had made business calls at home. Barnaby this, Barnaby that, ‘Barnaby’s going places.’ So am I. Joe nudged his seat back and stood to leave. Verity glanced at him, as if she was surprised he was going, but her attention turned to Wendy and Barnaby. Joe wasn’t sure where he’d go, but he needed fresh air. He wanted to be away from loud drinkers, away from Wendy’s carping. His head was pounding and as he stepped outside the pub, a car drove by close to the kerb. He instinctively jumped back, pressing himself against the wall behind him. Calm down, Sergeant Wenlock, he told himself. The night was cold, as cold as the pub had been hot, and Joe took a deep breath of autumn air. London tonight seemed even more surreal than ever, the streets a curious mix of the same well-dressed professionals who filled Wendy’s group and those who had embraced Halloween, escaping the real world in the form of cats and devils, vampires and aliens, some already stumbling, others only just starting out. And there in the middle of them was Joe, who would rather be anywhere else but there. Maybe Joe should’ve thrown aside his tweed jacket and sensible open-necked shirt for a costume. He’d have made quite a good Frankenstein’s monster, maybe, though that said, when he’d first been taken to hospital and had plaster casts and bandages in places he hadn’t thought possible, he’d have been a brilliant cursed mummy. Joe decided to go for a wander. Once he was working again, he’d have little time to call his own. He’d take his freedom when and where he could. Music blared from pubs and bars, people laughed, taxis pulled up and disgorged their passengers. And up ahead, someone was shouting. Bloody people, can’t hold their drinks. “Don’t you ever, ever bloody do that again! Do you hear?” It was a man’s voice up ahead. Joe could see two figures, one in a black suit with a skeleton painted on it in white. He was wagging his finger—jabbing it—at the red-headed woman walking beside him in heels so high Joe wondered how she didn’t fall flat on her face. “It’s so important to me, so fucking important, and all you have to do is just nod, and instead, you’re pissing about, making a fucking joke of yourself!” “I’m sorry!” Her voice sounded almost desperate and she recoiled from her companion’s stabbing finger, jerking away as though it were the blade of a knife. She hurried after the skeleton when he stalked onwards, scooping up the silken hem of her shimmering red evening gown to follow. “Don’t be angry, I’m sorry!” “I’m sorry!” he mimicked. Joe could almost see him in profile. The man’s face was disguised by makeup that turned his face into a skull. Seemed a bit rich for him to be accusing someone of making a joke of themselves. “The man’s an investor in my film, and I wanted him to know that I’m serious about my art, and then you’re there hanging over my shoulder, interrupting and gobbing on about God knows what!” The man clenched his hands. Even they were tricked out in skeleton makeup. “Why do you wind me up like this? You do it on purpose, for fuck’s sake, then it’s all I’m sorry! Well, you bloody well will be!” “He was laughing too,” the woman said, a fresh note of desperation in her sing-song voice. No, not desperation. Fear. “He was having a good time, you’re not thinking straight! Just—please, don’t be like this!” “My thinking’s perfectly clear!” The man gave a long sniff then, and Joe knew exactly what was going on. The drugs are talking. The man stopped where he was and raised his hand at the woman. The way she flinched back told Joe that this wasn’t the first time it had happened. As she drew away, he saw her makeup clearly, a glamourous sugar skull in a rainbow of colours that nearly took his breath away. “Please don’t,” was all she said. Joe increased his pace. The man’s raised hand trembled but in a split second he slapped the woman across her painted face. Joe ran. He was on the couple in only a few steps, and interposed himself between them. He didn’t look back at the woman, but could hear her frightened breathing just behind him. “That’s enough. Time for you to go.” “And who the fuck are you, James Bond?” the man sneered. “I’m not going to stand around and watch a bully like you slap a woman.” Joe clenched his fists, resisting the temptation to give Skeletor a taste of his own medicine. “A woman? That’s a fucking joke. She’s a drag queen—a bloke!” Joe turned to look at the woman. A bloke? Was she?

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About the Authors

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper's. Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking. You can follow Eleanor on Facebook and Twitter

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House. Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill. You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Twitter and take a look at her Website.

Giveaway

Enter to win a FREE Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead romance book!

Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead Giveaway

ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A FREE CATHERINE CURZON & ELEANOR HARKSTEAD ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 2nd February 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.
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New Release Blitz: Of Alchemists and Arsonists by Katherine McIntyre

 

Of Alchemists and Arsonists Katherine McIntyre

Book 3 in the The Whitfield Files series

Heat Rating: Sizzling

Sexometer: 2 Word Count: 41,366 Book Length: SHORT NOVEL Pages: 162 Genres: EROTIC ROMANCE, STEAMPUNK

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Book Description

 
All Nate Whitfield wanted to do was stay out of trouble—but then he met Belle… In setting up his apothecary emporium in Islington, Nate Whitfield knew he’d be facing all manner of cracksmen and scum—after all, his cousins were once a part of that underworld. However, when a stunner of a woman bursts into his shop to hide from her former gang, he can’t help but offer shelter. Isobel Griffiths, an arsonist with a knack for setting blazes unseen, has wanted her freedom ever since her parents sold her to notorious gang leader Jack Blair. Drawn into Isobel’s whirlwind, Nate is soon smitten…as is she. Belle’s clever, but to escape Blair’s clutches, she’ll need more than wits—she’ll need Nate’s alchemy. And if their plan doesn’t succeed, it could spiral into a gang feud deadly enough to tear all of Islington apart. Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, death and injury. There are references to a parent selling a child into slavery.

Excerpt

Just another day in this nightmare of a neighborhood. When Nate had decided—or, truly, had been forced—to abandon his home in Ipswich, the spot in London where his cousins Theo and Ellie wrestled up trouble in one hand and livelihoods in the other had seemed to be his best, and only, option. He heaved a sigh and rearranged the glass bottles on the shelves, making the display more even. Different colored liquids glowed with pearlescent promise, while others looked like the sludge scraped off shoes at the end of the day. The first time his shop had been broken into overnight, Theo had strolled by to install a complex locking mechanism on the door sure to keep thieves out. The second time his shop had been broken into in the middle of the day, Ellie had arrived to place a derringer in his palm with a warning to practice his aim. His grip tightened around the glass neck of one of the corked bottles that glowed with a substance bluer than the ocean. He’d handcrafted each of these potions, and he just wanted to make a living off practicing the alchemy he’d studied for years to master. That had been his past trajectory, until the Darlingtons had involved themselves in his business. He swallowed hard as a familiar wave of ugliness washed over him, as bitter as wormwood. Like he’d be able to find his way in this forest of fools. Thus far, he’d just brought disappointment to his family. He finished arranging the glass bottles and returned to stand behind the counter. He’d stationed it at the back end of the store with a sometimes-useful register and plenty of shelves built into the structure, which left room to sort his voluminous back supply of herbs. Most of his potions wouldn’t be possible without a well-stocked apothecary of tonics, herbs and digestives. He used those basics to perform his alchemy—a lavender tea could be transmuted into a jar of moonlight while chamomile and lemon peel could become bottled sunshine. The possibilities were endless. Nate lifted one of the bags of lavender, inhaling as if the gentle fragrance might help calm his nerves. Every day that he opened his shop to the world turned into another triumph and another risk—whether from irritable customers or the thieves running rampant through this part of town. He tightened his grip around the bag. He missed his home something dreadful. He hummed a tune to himself and pulled out a bag of peppermint and one of pennyroyal, setting them out on the countertop by the scales. While he waited for the normal riffraff to come tumbling through those doors begging to barter or offer less coin than sensible, he’d at least continue creating more product. He’d learned all of his alchemy from his uncle, a soul stolen far too early from this world. Consumption was a cruel disease. He shook some peppermint onto the scale, the tiny dried leaves collecting in the center. The door swung open hard enough for the glass to rattle. Nate paused mid-shake and slid his free hand under the counter for the derringer Ellie had brought him. Not another robbery. A third time and he was tempted to hurl himself into the Thames. A woman bolted in, her shoulders heaving and her breaths coming out like punctuation marks. She slammed the door closed, but he didn’t get a full glimpse of her until she whirled around to face him. She was dressed like a shift worker in mahogany trousers, a blue shirt rolled up to the elbows and a red kerchief around her neck. Her dark brown hair was pulled into a ponytail, and the sharp look in her deep-set eyes pinned him on the spot. With her full lips and slender features, she possessed an arresting beauty. Panic flashed in her eyes. “Help me.” She crossed the space between them. “I need somewhere to hide.” Nate swallowed hard. Anyone on the run would bring more trouble with them than he wanted to deal with in a lifetime. However, once she stepped to the counter, the pleading in her umber eyes swayed him. “Here,” he said, gesturing behind the counter. The bottom shelf was large enough to fit the wastebasket he had stationed there. He pulled out the wastebasket and set it beside him where he was working at the scales. “You can try to squeeze in.” She nodded, her ponytail bobbing with the motion. The woman crouched and began to wedge herself into the confined space, folding up with surprising ease. “Thank you,” she said once she’d settled inside, even though her voice came out muffled. Nate raked fingers through his hair and heaved out a sigh. He’d left home to avoid trouble, yet from the moment he’d arrived in Islington, he’d found more and more. How his cousins survived around here mystified him. The scale wavered as he picked up the bag of peppermint and set to his task again, even while his heart raced a thousand leagues per second. What sort of trouble had this woman found herself in? The looming figures crowding in front of his door answered the question. Based on their scowls, their trousers in ill repair and the weapons weighing down their belts, the gang sort of trouble. Yet again, his poor glass door went flying open, clanging against the wall with a reverberation that made him wince. The biggest of the three men loped toward him, his heavy steps audible through the room, causing the glass bottles on the shelves to rattle. Nate would have to reorganize them. The man stopped in front of the counter, his dark eyes flashing with intended threat. “Where’s the girl?”

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About the Author

Katherine McIntyre

Strong women. Strong words. Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women. Easily distracted by cats and sugar. You can follow Katherine on Instagram here, join her Facebook group here and sign up to her newsletter here.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and a FREE Katherine McIntyre romance book!

Katherine McIntyre's Of Alchemists and Arsonists

KATHERINE MCINTYRE IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GRAB YOUR FREE KATHERINE MCINTYRE ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 2nd February 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.
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Monday, January 25, 2021

New Release Blitz: Chasing the Spark by Kori Blue - Win a Gift package and free book!

 

Chasing the Spark by Kori Blue

Book 1 in the Between Lovers series

Heat Rating: Burning Sexometer: 3 Word Count: 32,005 Book Length: SHORT NOVEL Pages: 130 Genres: BONDAGE AND BDSM, CONTEMPORARY, EROTIC ROMANCE

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Book Description

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Nina’s loving Master has a kinky surprise for her. The gift of a violet wand is shocking, but the sparks will soon fly.

Nina can’t wait to spend the Valentine’s Day weekend with Trey, her Master. He’s a perfect, loving boyfriend and the ideal kinky match for a submissive like Nina. He’s also a world away from the bad Doms she’s dated in the past, but when Trey gifts her a violet wand, she’s surprised…and daunted.

The thought of electroplay scares Nina, yet she yearns to give herself completely. Can she learn to trust her Master enough to let him push her limits?

Luckily for Nina, Trey’s ready to show her just what pleasure awaits. Over a Valentine’s Day weekend of romantic, steamy kink, the couple explore their new toy, and Nina comes to realize just how much she can learn from the sparks her Master creates between them.

 Excerpt

Valentine’s Day was a Friday, and it wasn’t much different from most others. As usual, Nina left work at 5:28 and walked down to the parking lot of Volkmann Industries with a couple of her colleagues. After a day cooped up in the beige-and-gray tedium of the office, it was a welcome chance to blow off some steam, and their laughter danced against the concrete walls of the building they were only too glad to leave behind for the weekend.

“Are you sure you guys don’t want to come with me?” Jazmine wheedled one more time. “C’mon. It’ll be fun. We’ll go to that Thai-Japanese place on Lakeview, hit the dinner buffet…they have à la carte makimono and a martini bar, remember? Perfect. Comfort food while we get wasted and talk about how this stupid holiday is a meaningless corporate invention designed to suck everybody’s wallet dry through the soulless application of guilt, greed and—”

“And eventually someone will take you home,” Arielle cut in, “because it’s two in the morning and you’re wandering around Riverfront Park, rambling drunkenly about how you’re one more bad date away from deciding to become a reclusive cat lady. You know, when you say it that way, it does sound like a pretty lit start to the V-Day weekend.”

Nina laughed and shook her head as Jazmine clutched their friend’s arm.

“Yes! You understand! Come on, Ari. You said you didn’t even want to go on that stupid blind date thing anyway. I’m depending on you. Nina’s let me down. Nina has plans.”

A cold breeze rippled across the icy asphalt, causing them to pick up their pace as they headed for their cars.

“Shit, it’s cold,” Nina murmured, rooting through her purse for her keys. She flashed Jazmine a smile. “Hey, Nina already apologized, so don’t blame me! I’d come if I could, girl. Promise.”

The black ends of crushed winter leaves and tire-shorn dirty slush fringed the lot, and the sky looked heavy and gray, promising more wintry weather to come. It was a sight almost as depressing as her friend’s dejected grimace.

“I know you would,” Jazmine admitted, shaking off the pout she was pulling for laughs, “and, seriously, you guys know I don’t really wanna make you feel bad for having fun without me, right?”

“We know,” Nina assured her, as Arielle hugged Jaz’s arm. “And we don’t feel bad at all. Not even a little tiny bit!”

Nina giggled and poked out her tongue, and Jazmine wrinkled her nose.

“Nice. Really nice, Nina. Oh, man… You know, it just sucks when plans change at the last minute. That’s all I’m saying.”

Nina slowed her steps a little so she could give her friend an affectionate bump on the shoulder.

“We know that too,” she said, glancing at Arielle, past Jazmine’s puffy, wind-tousled curls. “And it’s not your fault Jamie was an asshole. Look at it this way, at least you dodged the bullet early.”

Jazmine snorted. “Yeah, and I dodged a nice dinner, maybe a gift and some good dick too. Not that I was in it just for that, but—”

“Sure,” Arielle teased. “Sure you weren’t.”

“I wasn’t! The first couple times we hung out, he seemed really cool. I liked him. I mean, it wasn’t serious. It’s not like I was naming our imaginary cats or anything.”

“Cats?” Nina laughed.

“Cats, kids…whatever.” Jaz shrugged. “I’m just saying, it was super early, but he seemed nice. Not the type of person who’d blow somebody off by text, like a complete fucking asshole, three hours before a goddamn date. On Valentine’s Day, no goddamn less. Dude didn’t owe me anything, sure, but come on.”

“Asshole,” Arielle agreed, patting Jaz’s hand.

“I know, right? I guess I should have been like a fuckin’ lawyer and had the ‘but what are we?’ talk early enough that I could have made other plans. Nobody’s going to be free now.”

“Oh, of course they are,” Arielle said breezily. “If it’s that important, get out your phone, pick some random guy on some random app, and—”

“Yaaaay.” Jaz fluttered her fingers in the air, her face mournful. “Desperation! It’s, like, my favorite perfume. Nah, I don’t think so. It’d be too weird. See, this is what I hate about this time of year. So much pressure, and so much bullshit. You know? It brings out the worst in people. Like Black Friday, but for sex.”

Nina’s fingers closed around her keys. Her gray Kia Rio was parked a little closer than Arielle’s old blue Civic, and she felt guilty for how eager she was to climb into her car and head off to her own Valentine’s Day weekend.

Jazmine could joke and insist as much as she wanted that she hadn’t been that invested, and maybe it was even true. All the same, Nina was far too familiar with the sour, bruising crush of rejection to take her friend’s protests at face value, and guilt eased its way into the pit of her stomach.

“You know,” she said doubtfully, the keys jangling in her hand, “I could always call Trey and reschedule. I mean, there’s the whole weekend, and—”

“Don’t you dare!” Jazmine batted at her wrist. “I’m messing with you. Well, mostly. I’m pissed, sure, but I don’t want to drag you down with me. You’ve got your night planned, and the last thing I wanna do is take you away from Mr. Dreamypants. Just, I don’t know, think of me when—well, no. Don’t, actually. Don’t think of me when he’s got your legs up around—”

“Jaz!” Nina warned as they both broke into another peal of giggles.

“Look,” Arielle said, pulling her phone from her pocket, “why don’t I ask Meghan if this blind date girl has a friend?”

“Uh…wait. I’m disillusioned, but I’m not ready to give up dudes entirely,” Jazmine protested, a hint of surprised laughter coloring her words.

“Oh, shh.” Arielle was already texting. “You don’t have to. Anyway, who knows? She probably knows some guys. We’ll find out. Maybe the four of us could go to dinner, just have fun. No expectations, no big deal. Then I don’t have to be a flake and break plans, and you don’t have to be miserable, drinking alone with your cats. Plus, if either of our dates is creepy, we can escape together. Sound fair?”

Jazmine pursed her lips. “I guess… But what about your blind date? She was expecting an actual date. I don’t want to fuck that up for somebody.”

“Eh.” Arielle wrinkled her nose. “If she hasn’t got enough compassion to accommodate my poor, heartbroken friend—”

“Hey!”

“Then she and I don’t have a future. Same goes for if she’s not down for a sashimi special and sake.”

“Well, when you put it like that…”

Nina laughed along with the two of them, almost missing the single life that she’d had a few months ago. “I wish I could come with,” she said, even as the wistfulness tapered away. “I really do.”

“No, screw you!” Jazmine taunted playfully. “Find your own lesbian. Anyway, fuck off, Nina. You’re going to have an amazing weekend with your amazing boyfriend. You bitch.”

Arielle glanced up from her phone. “How is Trey, anyway?”

They were almost at Nina’s car. Tiny flakes of snow began to fall, melting onto the slushy ground. Nina bit her lip.

“He’s good. Been busy, y’ know. The whole pre-tax-day rush starts soon, so he’s got a bunch of new clients who think they’re ahead of the game. I think he could use some time off. We’re going out for a meal tonight, and then—”

“Yeah, yeah. We all know what you’re doing later.”

“Shut up, Jaz,” Arielle said, in gentle admonishment.

Nina just grinned.

Her friends had no idea about the details of her sex life with Trey—or the nature of their relationship at all, come to that—and she much preferred it that way. She had no real desire to explain to them that she was the kind of girl who got wet only when she was on her knees.

Nina doubted they would really have been shocked. Hell, pretty much everyone had dabbled in a little kink at least once. However, she was into more than just a casual spanking and a rough blowjob or two. Nina’s world lit up in the moments she saw approval in the eyes of the man she called Master and, more than anything, she cherished the hard journey it took to get there.

She wasn’t ashamed, but she didn’t want to answer the kind of questions Jazmine would ask if she found out about it. Nor did she really want that part of her life open to prying eyes. It was hers, and his. Special, secret…maybe even sacred, in some kind of way.

It was her own private universe, and she couldn’t wait to get back to it.

“Have fun, though,” Jazmine said, dropping the playacting. “Seriously. Don’t worry about me.”

“I won’t,” Nina promised, leaning in to give them both quick goodbye hugs. “Lemme know how it goes, okay? Both of you. I hope it’s awesome.”

Arielle winked at her, the cold wind whipping at her dark hair. “It will be. We’ll make it awesome. Have a great weekend and say hi to Trey for me. We should all go out again sometime. He’s cool.”

“Yeah, he is,” Nina admitted shyly. “Text me?”

“Promise,” Arielle agreed.

“Promise,” Jazmine said, and ripped off a mock salute. “And give Trey’s ass a squeeze for me or something, ’kay?”

“Yeah, sure.” Nina snickered. “Enjoy yourselves, ladies.”

Arielle waved the hand she wasn’t using to text with, and they both peeled off to her Civic, with Jazmine chattering about the prospect of an all-she-could-eat Japanese dinner, overpriced cocktails and a buttload of sake.

Nina unlocked her Rio then grabbed the scraper from the passenger side footwell so she could brush the thin dusting of snow off the roof and windshield. She couldn’t help smiling to herself as she worked, listening to the receding voices of her friends echo against the asphalt.

It felt good to know Jazmine wasn’t going to spend the evening alone, and it was a relief—albeit perhaps a selfish one—for Nina to know she wasn’t going to be distracted from her plans by the sickly tug of guilt or shame.

She’d been looking forward to this for far too long to have anything go wrong, or impinge on her time with worries and distractions. Maybe that was silly. It was just a day, but then so was any holiday, and there was nothing wrong with wanting to make it special.

Maybe Jaz did have a point, and Valentine’s Day was kind of a hustle. All the commercial bullshit, the overpriced flowers and candy, the two-dimensional depictions of love in pink or red heart shapes… It didn’t even scratch the surface of what something between two people could be. And yet, here Nina was, ready to put her all into the occasion, loving the chance to use it as a fun, candy-coated excuse for something special.

Oh, she definitely had plans.

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About the Author

Kori Blue

Kori Blue writes adult romance with an edge. In her stories, you'll find sharp, sassy women who know what they want... and strong, sexy men who've got just what they need.

Kori's stories often involve some kinky fun, and explorations of fantasies from the sinfully sweet to the downright dark and dirty. From the intimate stories of couples in Kori's Between Lovers series to the daring exploits of a call girl-turned-madam in the Midnight Candy books, and the dark, twisted tales of passion and obsession in Juniper Lake, a Kori Blue book is guaranteed to pull you into a world of intrigue and intensity, with characters you'll love, and heat you'll never forget!

You can find Kori at her website.

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Friday, January 22, 2021

New Release Blitz: Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea by Stefania Hartley - Win a Gift package and free book!

 

Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea
by Stefania Hartley

Heat Rating: Simmering  

Sexometer: 1
Word Count: 43,630
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 179
Genres:  CHICK LIT, COMEDY AND HUMOUR, CONTEMPORARY, EROTIC ROMANCE, THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

Sicilian marine biologist Serena Ingotta has never understood men, but when she uncovers a mafia factory polluting the sea, it only adds to the things that confuse her.

Twenty-four-year-old Sicilian scientist Serena Ingotta has always misunderstood men, from her workaholic anti-mafia judge father to the Catholic seminarian she’s hopelessly in love with. Interning in a marine biology lab alongside her irritating colleague Enrico, she discovers an illegal polluting factory that is possibly connected with the mafia.

When it turns out that their boss is going to cover up the story, she publicly denounces him at a science conference and gets expelled from the lab. Alone and ostracized, Serena’s attempts to find love and expose the factory seem to be failing epically until she finally realizes that everything she has been searching for was just under her nose.

Reader advisory: This book contains instances of minors with firearms.

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Excerpt

Serena jangled the lab keys inside her bag and smiled. The cheerful clink told her that, even without a salary, a job description or a coat peg, she belonged there. The sound echoed in the silent corridor. There was no tapping of wooden soles, no irritated voices, no whispered gossip at that time in the morning. There was just her, the pickled coelacanths and the embalmed, startled pufferfish to greet her through the glass cabinets.

She stuck the key into the lab door and tried to turn it, but it was already unlocked. Strange… I’m usually the first in. As she opened the door, she found the tall green shutters gaping open and a gust of wind slammed the windows shut with a tinkling of glass.

“Hi, Sery!”

“Enrico?” He was perched on his stool, hunched over the wooden workbench with his grubby lab coat unbuttoned, as attractive as the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He straightened, turned toward her and blinked as if he were only just waking up. He usually turned up around ten o’clock. “How come you’re here so early?”

“Just to spook you. No, not really. I just suddenly thought, Shit, we have to finish our research by the end of the week, and I freaked out. Are you freaked out too?”

“A bit. Mostly about your sudden interest in our work. I thought I’d never get any help from you.”

He smiled. “I’m here to the rescue, baby.” He thrust a fist in the air, and Serena groaned inwardly. He was even wearing a Superman T-shirt.

She took off her motorbike helmet and put it down on the floor under the coat pegs. “Maybe we’ll get our own pegs after the conference.”

He shook his head. Coat pegs were for staff, not unpaid interns. “I wouldn’t hold my breath, Sery. We’re out of filter paper and we can’t order more until next year’s funding arrives. I don’t think either of us is getting a job here anytime soon.”

“Hold on. If we’re out of filter paper, what are you using for filtering?” she asked, pointing to the funnel dripping a red liquid into a conical flask on their workbench.

“Hand towels.” He grinned.

She clutched her head. “You can’t do that! No wonder our results—”

“Just joking.” He grinned, winking. “I’ve cut the discs in half so we have enough. If you pour carefully, they do the job just fine.”

“Please, don’t make a joke like that again. Not now.” They only had until Friday to persuade their boss to submit their research to the upcoming Marine Biology Conference. If they presented their research at the conference, they could put it on their CVs and maybe they’d get a research bursary or—if dreams ever came true—a permanent research position. Two years of unpaid work in Schettino’s lab would not have been in vain. “Right. Let’s get to work.”

By the time Giovanna and Titti arrived after dropping their kids off at school, Serena and Enrico had dissected the fish samples, isolated the gill tissues and filtered the extracts. Giovanna and Titti were research associates—with coat pegs, name badges and monthly salaries—but they were too nice for Serena to wish that they accidentally cut their own heads off while dissecting a fish so that she could have their jobs.

Cornetti to see us through today,” Giovanna announced, putting down a parcel wrapped with the paper from the café downstairs on a nearby bench. The heavenly buttery scent of the Italian croissants temporarily flushed the smell of the fish samples from the room. Yes, Giovanna is definitely too lovely to hate.

“Shall we have a break?” Enrico suggested hopefully.

“I want to see the spectrophotometer’s results first, but you can,” Serena said.

Enrico hesitated but picked up a cuvette with fish juice instead of a cornetto with custard and walked over to the spectrophotometer in the far corner of the room. Enrico called out the machine’s readings and Serena entered them into her laptop.

“How are things going here?” Professor Schettino suddenly appeared behind them. The boss never arrived before eleven o’clock. He must be early because of the conference deadline.

“We’re getting together the last results,” Enrico said confidently.

“Great. I want to see all your results by lunchtime.”

“Sure.”

After that deadline was issued, the cornetti weren’t mentioned anymore.

Just before midday, Schettino shouted from his office, “Enrico, Serena, are you done?”

They looked at each other. “Almost!” Enrico called back.

It was a very early ‘lunchtime’ for Italy. They entered the last few results into their table and clicked on the button that would create a curve of best fit. But what came out was not a curve by any standard.

“I’ve calibrated the machine three times!” Enrico protested, waving his arm in the air.

“I don’t think our results are wrong. The repeats are very close to each other.”

“Then why does our data make no sense?”

“It does make sense. Negative results disprove the hypothesis.”

Enrico twisted his mouth. “Negative results aren’t exciting enough to be presented at a conference.”

“Schettino will agree that science doesn’t have to be sensational. Come… Let’s show him.” She got up with her laptop and marched to Schettino’s office-cave. Enrico followed her. “Here are our results,” she announced, putting her laptop down on their boss’ desk, which was scattered with printouts crossed through and scribbled on in red pen. Enrico stopped on the threshold and leaned against the door jamb.

Schettino adjusted his reading glasses, put down the red pen and looked intently at the graph. “Ah,” he said, pushing his wheelie chair back and dropping his glasses to look intently at Serena.

Serena waited for a more comprehensive comment, possibly with some indication of his appreciation.

“So, what’s your conclusion?” he asked, shrugging.

“That there’s no correlation between heavy metal concentration in fish and distance from the shore.”

Enrico stepped into the room. “We’ve calibrated the instruments before every batch of measurements, we’ve repeated each reading at least three times and…we’ve worn gloves.”

“Uhm”—Schettino pursed his lips—“perhaps you need to plot against depth instead of distance from the shore.”

“Why? What’s wrong with our results as they are?” This was not how she had imagined the conversation would go.

“Not impressive enough to go to a conference. The selection committee won’t give you even a five-minute slot to present it. Nobody is interested in you having an idea and proving that it was wrong, Serena. I don’t care what you plot your results against, so long as you find a correlation of some sort. Otherwise, I won’t submit your work to the conference. It’s as simple as that.” He stood up, which made him a lot taller than her—but not Enrico.

“But the submission deadline is on Friday,” Enrico protested.

“You don’t have to come to this conference. There’ll be many others.”

But we’ve worked for two years with the promise of being allowed to submit to this conference.

“We’ll turn the research around by Friday.”

Schettino smiled. “I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

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About the Author

Stefania Hartley


Stefania Hartley, also known as The Sicilian Mama, was born in Sicily and immediately started growing, but not very much. She left her sunny island after falling head over heels in love with an Englishman, and she’s lived all over the world with him and their three children.

Having finally learnt English, she enjoyed it so much that she started writing stories and nobody has been able to stop her since. She loves to write about hot and sunny places like her native Sicily, and she especially likes it when people fall in love.

Her short stories have been longlisted, commended and won prizes. Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea is her second novel, after Sun, Stars and Limoncello.

You can find out more about Stefania on her website, and on the Sicilian Mama's Blog. You can also listen to Stefania's podcast.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and a FREE Stefania Hartley romance book!

Stefania Hartley's Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea

STEFANIA HARTLEY IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GRAB YOUR FREE STEFANIA HARTLEY ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 26th January 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Book Blast: LOVE AND OTHER MOODS by Crystal Z. Lee

 



Love and Other Moods follows complexities of adulting, of parenting, of the urban quest for love and finding one's place in the world…

Love and Other Moods

By Crystal Z. Lee

Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.

Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.

Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.

This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships—familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships—in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.



“This heartfelt, transporting story sparkles with a constellation of characters who call this city home while pursuing their China dream. As multifaceted as Shanghai itself, this novel follows overlapping narratives about the complexities of adulting, of parenting, of the urban quest for love and finding one’s place in the world.”

— EMILY TING, film director of Go Back to China and Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

“Awash with cosmopolitan expats and jet-setting locals, Love and Other Moods shimmers like the diamonds adorning China’s glitterati, while exposing haunting personal histories and intergenerational strife. With dazzling twirls around Shanghai’s World Expo, glitzy fashion shows, art deco architecture, jazz clubs, gourmet restaurants, and disappearing food stalls, this novel compellingly pulls the reader into the pleasures and pains of becoming an adult in a city soaring to global status.”

— JENNY LIN, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Southern California and author of Above sea: Contemporary art, urban culture, and the fashioning of global Shanghai


Amazon → https://amzn.to/2Vqx5IN

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/36iVsON

Book Depository → https://bit.ly/2VgLd6Y

IndieBound → https://bit.ly/3fIWlTE



Naomi had packed four suitcases from New York, and right now they were stacked unevenly on top of one another in the hallway, forcing the front door to open only halfway, just tight enough for her to slide in sideways. She couldn’t remember the last time she had lived by herself. The lonely apartment was mildly depressing.

She felt like walking aimlessly. She passed by wrinkled men playing a game of Chinese chess, teenage girls in designer sunglasses taking photographs of each other, a woman gesticulating wildly as she yelled into her cell phone, tourists examining a guide book, a cloud of second-hand smoke drifting from outside a cafe, Uighur men selling kebabs, well-heeled shoppers clinging to their purchases, two men in yarmulkes talking heatedly, shrieking children competing with the racket from honking vehicles, and the sea of commuters gushing out of the Huangpi Nan Lu metro stop. Naomi let herself be swept up into the human river, bodies crushing against each other, arms brushing and shoving, no apologies no offense taken. Being in this city meant your senses were constantly accosted.

A man approached her with a flier featuring images of iPhones, Rolexes, LV handbags, and said that their shop was just ahead in an alley. She declined and quickened her pace. She spotted an empty bench by a bus stop and flopped down. Barely noticing as the traffic whizzed by, the racy selfie on Seth’s phone resurfaced in her head. A steady stream of downpour coaxed pedestrians to open a colorful array of umbrellas, or duck into convenience stores, boutique shops, malls entrances. Naomi felt wholly unequipped and unprepared, again, by this city.

Her hair was stuck to her face and her forehead was damp. She was relieved that the inclement weather matched her mood, for tears had started forming and slithering beneath her eyes, blending with the droplets of rain running down her face. She wiped it away with her sleeve. She just wanted to throw up all the fury and regrets that were lodged in her stomach, she wished it could all be flushed out of her head.

It was starting to hit her, the reality of having no boyfriend, no job, and nowhere to live.

She wondered if the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai was too small to co-exist with her ex-fiancé














Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. Love and Other Moods is her debut novel. She’s already hard at work on her next novel and a children’s book.

Follow the author on Instagram @ Crystal.Z.Lee










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