Review of 3 Minutes to Midnight by L.M. Hatchell: 4 Stars

W

Refreshing Premise with a Well-written Story

I really enjoyed this book! For a change from many books in this genre, the ancient prophecy doesn’t foretell the birth of the savior of the world, but the one who will destroy it. Phoenix knows she’s considered an abomination in the supernatural world, and she doesn’t want any part of it anyway. She loves her simple life with humans, but the paranormals are not about to let her get away. This story had plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and surprises around every corner. I liked the characters and rooted for Phoenix throughout the book. Of course, I had to buy the second book in the series, and now I can’t wait for the third. The books do end on cliff-hangers. I would have preferred that each book complete a narrative arc, but I’ll definitely buy more from this author.

Here’s the blurb:

A small Dublin pub …

… holds the key to humanity’s survival.


Who will learn its secret?

Half vampire, half fae, Phoenix is an abomination in the eyes of the supernatural community. Screw them! She’s more than happy to play human in the cosy Irish pub she calls home.

At least until an annoying werewolf comes knocking.

Because Phoenix may be done with the supernatural world, but it’s not quite done with her.

Her birth has triggered a prophecy, and now the clock is ticking. Humanity will be the first to suffer for her existence.

Everything, and everyone, she loves is in danger, and as the body count rises Phoenix must learn to embrace the darkest parts of herself.

Or lose it all.

If you like gripping urban fantasy with some serious attitude, you’ll love this debut novel from Irish author L.M. Hatchell.

Alone in the Dark ~ Excerpt and Interview with Khardine Gray

Welcome to October! This post continues the series of excerpts and interviews with authors of A Darker Shade of Evil: A Demon and Devil Anthology available now!

Many thanks to Muffy Wilson for creating and compiling the interviews and excerpts.

     

Alone in the Dark

Tagline 1:  The Demons and devils threatened to take everything and rip their world apart.

Tagline 2:  I shouldn’t want him, we want different things. 
I’ve always known I should stay away from the alpha wolf. But when the demons and devils unleash their evil it’s only us who can stop them from tearing everything apart.  

BLURB:

He was a werewolf…


There, that should have been reason enough to keep me away.


Witches from the Coven of Shadows and werewolves do not mix.
Even before it was forbidden, they didn’t do it.


But… that never stopped me from wanting him, the alpha wolf.


Attraction brought us together, but the demons and devils may drive us apart.
A war is coming, we both know it.


If he plays by his own rules, I’ll be alone in the dark…

 

EXCERPT:

I looked around the room and my spirits fell.

That was the best words I could find to describe how I felt.

I knew this would happen. After Father’s betrayal, it was a wonder how anyone was here at all.

This was the first Realm’s Council meeting since we found out who and what he was.

This was the state of us four months later. A shadow of what we’d previously been.

A meeting hall that was once full of magical and mystical beings from every realm known to man and creature was now less than half. I’d counted a total of sixteen people present, and that included me. The room was designed to hold sixty people. We had a long table that seated each and every one of them. All representatives from the mystical and magical community who’d trusted us as the Ravenwood family to be their leaders.

Us who were high witches from the Coven of Shadows. The oldest witching coven that had been around since the dawn of time.

Bad enough that we were already rare with the few numbers we had since you belonged to the coven by birthright but add this debacle to it and I would say it was a sign of serious change.

When people no longer trusted you to lead that was a big problem. Never mind the fact that it wasn’t you who dealt the damage. It was sufficient that the same blood flowed through my veins.

It was all however, problems I would have to deal with because it would be me taking over from Father. Not my mother as I assumed.

That was what she wanted to tell everyone today.

Everyone which included my sisters: Juliana and Gabrielle, The three vampires from the Order of Raphael- Tristan my soon to be brother in law and his brothers, Ivan and Virgil, and ten others. The ten were a mixture of fae folk. The weaker beings who’d always looked to us for protection over the centuries.

It was a given that they’d always follow us, and I got the feeling that the Order of Raphael were only here because of Tristan. Ivan was leader but Tristan had a strong influence over them. They were brothers and much like my sisters they’d support me.

Mother stood and looked around the room. We’d given time for lateness and waited for half an hour already just waiting to see who would be coming.

She looked to me and I nodded. Yes, better to start than piss off the people who were already here . It would be disrespectful.

She waved her hand and the large oakwood doors closed at her will. With them my heart crumbled.

No point looking out for anyone else. This was it.

It was just that there was one person I’d always looked out for and it crushed me to see he really wasn’t coming.

Lucian Feynnoir.

Lucian the leader of the lycans and werewolves.

We used lycans and werewolves interchangeable here no matter you were who was born with the lycanthropic abilities and or a human who’d been bitten and changes with the moon. They all answered to him as their leader regardless of whichever pack they traveled in or what part of the world or realm they came from.

It was him. His absence meant they were no longer with us.

It also meant he truly didn’t care about me.

He never did. I was a witch and he was a werewolf. Why would he?

Even if I thought he did, I was totally wrong. If I wasn’t then I would have seen him after Father’s betrayal and he would be here now.

 

INTERVIEW WITH KHARDINE GRAY:

Why do you write?

Writing is my passion. I’ve never gone a day without writing. I love creating characters with their own wonderful stories.

What genre does your work fall in?

I write contemporary, paranormal, and interracial romance.

Why did you chose that genre?

I love love and writing about people falling in love and the adventures they go on.

How does your work contribute to that genre?

I write with a creative passion that evokes the essence of romance. I take my time to ensure my pages leap out at you with the story as you read my work.

What would the title of your life story be?

The Girl who did everything and never stopped trying.

 Besides writing do you have any other creative passions?

I love ice skating and dancing.

 

Khardine Gray

Khardine Gray is an USA Today Bestselling author.

She writes contemporary romance, multicultural romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense.


Her books have sexy, drool-worthy heroes who will make you melt, and sassy, fun loving, ambitious heroines.


She simply adores her readers and loves spoiling them.

Website  Amazon AuthorPage  BookBub Author Page  Twitter  Facebook  Newsletter Sign-Up  Email

Alone in the Dark by Khardine Gray
USA Today Bestselling Author
@khardinegray1 featured in
A Darker Shade of Evil

A Darker Shade of Evil Cover

A Limited Edition Devil & Demon Fantasy Collection Kindle Edition

Available ***N*O*W***

☆.•°*°•.☆ Lock in the 1.99 price before it goes up! ☆.•°*°•.☆

or
Get it *F*R*E*E* on Kindle Unlimited
Featuring USA Today and International Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors and they’re coming in like Demons!

★✩★Authors Featured in this Collection★✩★
Khardine Gray – USA Today Bestselling Author
Alone In The Dark
Dariel Raye – USA Today Bestselling Author
The Devil Upstairs
Lori Titus – USA Today Bestselling Author
Talons
Muffy Wilson – USA Today Bestselling Author
Succubus Unleashed
Keta Diablo – Bestselling Author
I Spy A Demon
Marilyn Harlow – Bestselling Author
Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend
Gracen Miller – Bestselling Author
Hex
Michelle Scott – Bestselling Author
The Demon’s Prisoner
Katherine Smits – Bestselling Author
Siren Descending

Like your romance a little on the devilish side?

A Darker Shade of Evil available NOW!
ADSoE_Transparency-WhiteFont (1)

Deadly demons, diabolical devils and other creatures of the night will hold you spellbound in this one-of-a-kind anthology. In a world of dark delights, they trifle in forbidden passion, suspense, and kick-ass battles. It’s all right here for you in this captivating urban fantasy and paranormal romance anthology!

Brought to you by USA Today and International Bestselling Authors, these stories of sexy alpha heroes and heroines will keep you turning the pages. Devils, demons and their lethal hunters will draw you into their conquests, twisted deceptions, scorching heat, and yes, even love.
Don’t miss A Darker Shade of Evil! One-click now will claim your copy!

* Heat Rating: Spicy to Erotic Romance
* No Cliffhangers
* Happily-Ever-After or Happy-For-Now

Warning: If you like demonic games, angelic interventions, and thrilling temptations, you’ll love this demons and devils romance collection of twisted proportions in A Darker Shade of Evil.

Get it *F*R*E*E* on Kindle Unlimited

 

Bio Pic

Katherine Eddinger Smits grew up wanting to be a mermaid but discovered to her dismay this was not a viable career choice. Instead, she became a clinical social worker and helped veterans and their families.

Now she brings social work training and experience to her stories of mermaids, mages and magical creatures. Within the context of fantasy and romance, her novels explore real-life issues of self-acceptance, body image, relationship dynamics, and fears and phobias. Mystery, suspense, and a little sex add spice to her books.

She is the author of four paranormal romances.

Katherine and her husband divide their time between Florida and West Virginia. Their children and granddaughters live in Virginia.

Besides writing, Katherine is a blogger, mom, Mimi, dressage rider, and clog dancer.

Sign up for her quarterly newsletter and receive a free short story! Newsletters always include contests, freebies and fun.  http://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/

 

The Demon’s Prisoner ~ Excerpt and Interview with Michelle Scott

Welcome to October! This post continues the series of excerpts and interviews with authors of A Darker Shade of Evil: A Demon and Devil Anthology available now!

Many thanks to Muffy Wilson for creating and compiling the interviews and excerpts.

     

Tagline:  Can a desperate escape from Hell lead to a match made in heaven?                 

The Demon's Prisoner Cover

BLURB:

Working as a veterinarian for an animal rescue shelter has given Harper a heart for abused strays. So when a mysterious, sexy man shows up at the clinic looking for someone to tend to his wounds, Harper is there to assist. The man calls himself Bishop, and he says he’s on the run from a demon named Barbas who has made him its slave. It’s a hard story to swallow, yet Harper can’t deny that Bishop is surrounded by magic, and that his supernatural allure is impossible to resist. 

She’s all set for a steamy one-night stand, but then Barbas makes Harper his target and things get personal. Now, she’s willing to help Bishop take revenge on the demon who’s destroyed their lives. And if she falls in love in the process, that’s even better. After all, what can go wrong when you give away your heart to someone who’s been living in hell for the past twenty years?

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

     Harper stood in line at the roadside market with a Diet Coke, two apples, and four boxes of dog cookies. Today was her day to visit the Ravenstock animal shelter, and she wasn’t going to arrive without treats for her patients. Only three people stood ahead of her, but the line crawled along. The clerk, an older man with a white, bushy beard, chatted to every customer while ringing them up. Harper forced herself to keep from tapping her foot. Now that she’d moved to the country, she had to accept things moved slower than they had in the city.
     The bell over the door rang and a man in a long, black coat swept in on a gust of wind and rain. His dark hair had been cropped brutally short, and he had several piercings in his left ear. Harper lowered her gaze, not wanting to catch his eye. He wasn’t a large man, but an aura of danger enveloped him.  His shoulders were tense, and his lower jaw was clenched. Harper had occasionally seen his type in Detroit, but he looked out of place here in northern Michigan.
     As the line inched forward, Harper sensed the man in the long coat prowling around the store.  She tensed, certain he was about to rob the place. However, no one else seemed concerned. The clerk laughed at something one of the customers said, and the woman in front of Harper kept her eyes on her phone.
     The man in the coat stepped in line behind Harper. He carried one of the red, plastic shopping baskets over one arm. In it was a loaf of bread and a half-gallon of milk along with a package of sandwich meat. Certainly nothing dangerous. Harper let out a sigh of relief.
     The problem wasn’t the man, she realized. It was Greg, her ex. Greg had been stalking her ever since she’d left him three months before. At first, he’d sent her texts demanding to know why she’d gone. Then he’d started forwarding candid pictures of her at work and the gym to let her know that he was always watching. His latest messages had been downright threatening. You better stop ignoring me, or you’ll be sorry. When he left a dead cat on her doorstep, it was time for her to leave town. Now, even though she was three-hundred miles from Detroit, she still looked over her shoulder.
     “That’s a lot of dog biscuits,” the man behind her said.
     To prove to herself she wasn’t afraid, Harper looked directly at him and smiled. “I have a lot of dogs.”
     “Animal hoarder?” he said.
     “Veterinarian.” She nodded toward the door. “I volunteer at the Ravenstock animal shelter.”
     He broke into a smile, softening the hard angles of his face. “You like helping strays. Good for you.”
     Harper was about to reply when the clerk cleared his throat. “I guess I’m next,” Harper said and placed her purchases on the counter.
     As she left the store, the wind whipped at her hair and blew rain into her face. Although it was the beginning of May, spring hadn’t yet arrived this far north. Harper loved the quiet of the country, but this cold weather had to go! She hurried toward her car.
     “Harper.” A long-haired, heavy-set man in a bulky coat leaned against her car. Greg.
     Harper gasped and almost dropped her groceries. “How did you find me?” she demanded. Because Greg was a private investigator, she’d been very careful when she’d moved, not even telling friends and family where she was going. She’d cut up her old credit cards so they couldn’t be traced back to her, and had changed her phone number. She’d done everything right, yet here he stood.
     “You can’t get away from me.” He stood straighter and came toward her, forcing her back a step. “You should know that by now.” He smiled when he said this, but the threat was all too clear.
     “Leave me alone!” If she was loud enough, maybe she could attract attention from someone inside the store. She fumbled for the can of mace hidden deep within her purse. “Go away, or I’ll….”
     She cut herself off, but Greg picked up on her threat. “You’ll what?” he jeered. “Call the cops?” His smile was cruel and cunning. “I’m sure they’d be interested in hearing my side of the story, too.”
     Harper knew she was trapped. If the police did come, she’d be in as much trouble as Greg. “Leave me alone,” she said, this time begging. Her hand went to the scar above her left eyebrow. Greg had hurt her before; he would surely do it again.
     Greg shook his head. “No can do. You, however, will get into my car if you know what’s good for you.”
     She retreated another step. Suddenly, the safety of the market seemed leagues away. “Greg, please… .”
     “Greg, please… .” he said, parodying her.
     Harper felt a presence behind her. “Leave her alone.”
     Greg’s sneer became a snarl. “Who are you?”
     The man from the store stepped in-between Harper and Greg. “I’m someone who wants to talk sense into you.”
     The man sounded calm and assured, almost friendly, but Harper wasn’t fooled. Tension thrummed throughout his body. She had the feeling he was sizing up Greg and looking for weaknesses.
     Greg stuck out his chin. “Get lost. This is between Harper and me.”
     The man held up both hands to show he wasn’t a threat. “Let’s be reasonable and talk this out.”
     “Real men don’t talk,” Greg said and reached under his jacket.
     “He’s got a gun!” Harper shouted, but her warning came too late. The gun went off, and Harper shrieked.
     “You stupid son-of-a-bitch,” the man growled the words. In the yellow light of the parking lot lamp, the man’s coat darkened at the shoulder as blood flowed from the wound.
     Harper dropped her groceries and ran to her rescuer’s side. “Oh my God! Greg, you idiot!”
     “He made me do it,” Greg said. “It wasn’t my fault!”
     The man leaned against Harper’s Jeep, his hand clamped over the wound. Even in the dim light, Harper noticed the pale look of shock.
     The gunshot had drawn attention from those inside the store. Shouts rang out and someone peered around the doorway. No doubt, at least one person had called 911 which meant the sheriff would arrive any minute.
     The scrabble of tennis shoes against gravel let Harper know Greg was fleeing the scene. He leapt into his car and sped off so fast his car fishtailed on the road, making his tires squeal against the asphalt.
     Harper had been terrified moments before, but now she was furious. How dare Greg come after her like this! And how dare he shoot her rescuer! Hopefully, someone would call the police. Even if it meant she got into trouble as well, she couldn’t let Greg get away with it.
     She hurried back to where her rescuer leaned against her Jeep. “We need to get you to a hospital.”
     He shrugged off his coat and examined his arm. “It’s nothing more than a scratch.”
     “Doesn’t matter. It’s a gunshot wound, and it needs to be looked at.”
     “You’re a doctor,” he said. “Can’t you do something?”
     “I’m a vet,” she corrected, “and I could lose my license if I practice medicine on people. But don’t worry. I’ll call an ambulance.”
     He shook his head. “I can’t have the authorities involved.”
     “This isn’t a debate,” she said.
     “You said you were heading to Ravenstock, right? Take me there and clean the wound. Once I know you’re safe, I’ll be on my way. Then, you can speak with the police.”
     Harper’s stomach was in knots. She owed him a debt of gratitude, but the man threw off warning signals like police flashers at a four-car collision. He had a desperate, dangerous feeling about him. As if someone hunted him.  And the last thing she needed in her life was another loose cannon.
     Seeing her hesitation, the man shrugged. “Look, it’s okay. I know this looks sketchy as hell.”
     He was right; it did look sketchy as hell. “Are you running from the cops?” she asked. “Are you wanted? Is the mob after you?”
     He laughed. “I’m wanted, but not by the mob.” He picked up the bag of groceries she’d dropped and handed them over. “Don’t worry about it. I don’t want to get you into trouble.” He turned to go.

     Ah, Hell. She couldn’t turn her back on someone who had just rescued her from Greg, the maniac. “Get in the Jeep. “Ravenstock is only a mile up the road.” She never could resist helping a stray.

 

INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE SCOTT

  What is your most treasured possession?  

I have to admit that it’s my phone.  I grew up pre-computer, yet I’m still a techie!  I love that I can read books, store and take pictures, and listen to music all on one device.  I really marvel at technology and am always eager to see what they come up with next.

Who or what has been the greatest love of your life? 

Definitely my husband.  We’ve been married for over thirty years, and I knew from the beginning that he was the one I was meant to be with.  He’s my cheerleader, my life coach, and my best friend.

Dogs or Cats?   

I would have to say both!  I love how dogs can be so enthusiastic.  They’re active and rough-and-tumble not to mention loyal.  Cats, on the other hand, (or at least my cat) can be a little finnicky, but I love to sit in a chair, reading a book, with a cat curled up in my lap.

What quality do you most admire in a woman and/or a man? 

Generosity.  I admire people who donate their time, as well as their money, to worthy causes.  I also love it when people tip well.

What are your writing quirks?  

I am a thirsty writer!  I always have a glass of iced tea or a cup of coffee when I write.  I try not to snack, but I figure drinking is okay.

What do you do as a hobby?  

I love to knit and crochet.  If I don’t have a book in my hands, then I will have a pair of needles or a hook.  I also love exploring new music.  I’m a big fan of indie bands.

Which are your three favorite books?  

The Stand by Stephen King; Jane Eyre; and Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

What is your Writing Routine?

  I always write first thing in the morning and last thing before I stop working for the day.   My ideas are always freshest in the morning, and writing actually relaxes me at night.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?  

Both!  It can be draining, especially if I am really into a scene, but it can also perk me up.

What are you working on now?  

Right now, I’m working on the third book in my Restless Spirits series.  Restless Spirits is about a young man who can see ghosts, but has always hated his ability.  Throughout the series, he comes to terms with his special gift while helping put ghosts to rest.

More Favorites from the Restless Spirits series:  I am in love with my characters!  Ethan, the main character, struggles with his visions because, all his life, he was told that he was mentally ill and not clairvoyant.  His boyfriend, David, struggles with his identity as a gay man.  Ethan’s friend and business partner, Christian, is more easy going. He recently lost someone he cared deeply about, but that loss has encouraged him to move take more risks in life.  He and Ethan have started a paranormal investigation business, and have gone on many adventures.

Tell us about your other books?  

I write a lot of different kinds of books.  I’ve written cozies in my Straight to Hell series and straight-up romance in Just the Two of Us.  Mostly, I enjoy books with an otherworldly element.  Straight to Hell is urban fantasy whereas Restless Spirits is more supernatural thriller.

What are your Top Writing Tips? 

Write every day. Don’t be afraid to write a terrible first draft, lol.  Read, read, and read some more.  Always appreciate your readers.  Connect with other writers.  Never give up!

Finally, what are we likely to find in YOUR nightstand? 

Right now, I’m in the middle of three books.  The first is for my book club, and it’s called There There by Tommy Orange.  The next is a thriller called Cut and Run by Mary Burton.  The final one is a favorite classic of mine – The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot.

Michelle Scott

Michelle Scott has lived in Michigan all her life, and loves to explore its coastlines and camp in its forests. Although she’s written romance, she mostly pens urban fantasies and supernatural suspense novels. When she’s not writing or reading, Michelle loves to knit, discover new indie bands on Spotify, and explore antique shops. She’s been married to Mr. Right for over thirty years, and has three children.

Website  Blog  Amazon AuthorPage  BookBub Author Page  Twitter  Pinterest  Facebook   YouTube

Newsletter Sign-Up  Goodreads   Instagram   EMail

 

 

A Darker Shade of Evil

A Limited Edition Devil & Demon Fantasy Collection Kindle Edition

Available ***N*O*W***

☆.•°*°•.☆ Lock in the 1.99 price before it goes up! ☆.•°*°•.☆ 

OR

Get it *F*R*E*E* on Kindle Unlimited
Featuring USA Today and International Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors and they’re coming in like Demons!

★✩★Authors Featured in this Collection★✩★
Khardine Gray – USA Today Bestselling Author
Alone In The Dark
Dariel Raye – USA Today Bestselling Author
The Devil Upstairs
Lori Titus – USA Today Bestselling Author
Talons
Muffy Wilson – USA Today Bestselling Author
Succubus Unleashed
Keta Diablo – Bestselling Author
I Spy A Demon
Marilyn Harlow – Bestselling Author
Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend
Gracen Miller – Bestselling Author
Hex
Michelle Scott – Bestselling Author
The Demon’s Prisoner
Katherine Eddinger Smits – Bestselling Author
Siren Descending
Like your romance a little on the devilish side?

A Darker Shade of Evil is available NOW!

Deadly demons, diabolical devils and other creatures of the night will hold you spellbound in this one-of-a-kind anthology. In a world of dark delights, they trifle in forbidden passion, suspense, and kick-ass battles. It’s all right here for you in this captivating urban fantasy and paranormal romance anthology!

Brought to you by USA Today and International Bestselling Authors, these stories of sexy alpha heroes and heroines will keep you turning the pages. Devils, demons and their lethal hunters will draw you into their conquests, twisted deceptions, scorching heat, and yes, even love.
Don’t miss A Darker Shade of Evil! One-click now will claim your copy!

* Heat Rating: Spicy to Erotic Romance
* No Cliffhangers
* Happily-Ever-After or Happy-For-Now

Warning: If you like demonic games, angelic interventions, and thrilling temptations, you’ll love this demons and devils romance collection of twisted proportions in A Darker Shade of Evil.

Get it *F*R*E*E* on Kindle Unlimited

 

Bio Pic

Katherine Eddinger Smits grew up wanting to be a mermaid but discovered to her dismay this was not a viable career choice. Instead, she became a clinical social worker and helped veterans and their families.

Now she brings social work training and experience to her stories of mermaids, mages and magical creatures. Within the context of fantasy and romance, her novels explore real-life issues of self-acceptance, body image, relationship dynamics, and fears and phobias. Mystery, suspense, and a little sex add spice to her books.

She is the author of four paranormal romances.

Katherine and her husband divide their time between Florida and West Virginia. Their children and granddaughters live in Virginia.

Besides writing, Katherine is a blogger, mom, Mimi, dressage rider, and clog dancer.

Sign up for her quarterly newsletter and receive a free short story! Newsletters always include contests, freebies and fun.  http://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/

 

The Devil Upstairs ~ Excerpt and Interview with Dariel Raye

Today on my blog I’m featuring the fascinating Dariel Raye. Read on for an excerpt from The Devil Upstairs, her contribution to A Darker Shade of Evil: A Demon and Devil Anthology. Here’s the anthology cover and buy link:

A Darker Shade of Evil Cover

Buy A Darker Shade of Evil here: https://www.amazon.com/Darker-Shade-Evil-Demon-Anthology-ebook/dp/B07TK6LLCP/ref=sr_1_1?crid=114JS5W4T2EVM&keywords=a+darker+shade+of+evil&qid=1569860040&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Darker+Shade+of+Evil%2Caps%2C170&sr=1-1

Here’s the amazing cover for The Devil Upstairs. This story sounds awesome!

The Devil Upstairs Cover

Tagline 1:  A thin line separates the hunter from the hunted.                                        
Tagline 2:  An ancient being, the last of his kind, a fiery woman sought by evil…and the story begins…

Blurb:

A thin line separates the hunter from the hunted.

An ancient being, the last of his kind, a fiery woman sought by evil…and the story begins…

Charged with shielding the souls of the Chosen from demons, Gateway is of an ancient race, the last of his kind. A lifetime of fighting evil, a lonely existence has left him jaded, hardened, and from his perspective, there’s no such thing as a happy ending.

An orphan with anger issues, Katrina Hollinger has just lost another job because of her temper, a pile of “PAST DUE” notices are piled up waiting for her on her kitchen table, including an eviction notice, and to complicate her life even more, a tall stranger with major control issues seems to be trying to take over her life. To make matters even worse, he’s the spitting image of the man in her fantasies – just in time for Christmas.

The moment these two meet, the course is set for a ride beyond anything either of them could have imagined. They will both have to sacrifice their tenuous hold on reality and take major risks to come out intact.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

I pressed my shoulders against the earth as it shifted around me, packed at first, then giving slowly. Keeping my mouth closed, I was grateful to whatever or whoever made me for the gift of not needing to breathe while in this state. Gratitude was not something I felt often. One quick intake of the putrid air proved I didn’t want more, so I exhaled, keeping the acquired human-like habit at bay. 

 
I couldn’t be certain why I had been awakened after what must have been a very long time, but they usually woke me when it was time to fight again. I could feel the passage of time in my bones, the stiffness of my limbs proof of disuse. Yes, this form had been dormant for years, and my first order of business would be to find a new one.

 
I forced the earth away and burst through the soil, splintering the wooden box as I rose, keeping my eyes closed along with my mouth. I absently wondered what I would find this time; what had become of this place since I last walked among its people. The loud, high-pitched calls of hawks and ravens greeted me. Animals always had a way of knowing when an even more dangerous predator arrived on the scene.

 
I shook the earth from my body and opened my eyes, relieved to find that at least my cave remained unchanged – pitch black, secluded, and barren – the image of its sole occupant. Far from civilization, I shifted into my eagle form. Two things were paramount: finding sustenance, and replacing this body, and I prepared to take care of both of them at once.

 

***

 


Things had changed. The others were gone, and I, the son that even history forgot, was the only one left. A mixed bag of emotions struck me – relief, satisfaction, and the one that surprised me most, sorrow. I dropped to the ground behind a clothing store, stretching my newly acquired human form before conjuring clothing similar to what I had seen during my flight. 

 
Red and green lined the streets as far as I could see. Trees with silver and gold lights, ribbons and bows, candy canes, angels, even crosses filled the windows of shops and apartment buildings. Doing a double-take when I saw the crosses, I shook my head. 

 
“Such a waste of time and energy. They do not even allow the poor babe to be born before they revel in his death, and they insist on celebrating his birth on the wrong date. Every fucking year I am bombarded by these hideous reminders,” I mumbled, unable to help myself. I knew the true story, but as people rushed along the sidewalks and streets, in and out of shops, carrying bags on both arms, memories invaded my thoughts. The ridiculous scene took me back to a dark place, and once again I relived the nightmare behind my hatred for this time of year, the night I became what I am.


Early Middle Ages, Egypt

 
Returning from a hunting trip with my younger brother, Stefan, I stumbled over the ravaged body parts of my entire village – my mother, father, and sister among them. 

 
There was no time to mourn, only to act. Stefan and I knew the murderers. “Adrian! I’ll go this way and cut them off.”

 
“No, Stefan,” I commanded. “We confront them together.”

 
The evil bastards had murdered our entire village while we hunted, all because the guards had been lured away by their demonic ploys. I learned later that the demons had taken the form of humans, telling the guards that vampires, also our natural enemies, were on their way to attack our village.

 
That night, the vampires were the least of my concerns. Demons were the enemies our rivaling races shared. 

 
Against my orders, Stefan shifted to his wolf form and dashed into the mountains ahead of me.

 
I shifted as well, desperate to catch him before he got himself killed and left me completely alone, but it was too late. I arrived to find his ravaged body in pieces, strewn about the mountain, the image of his bright red blood against the luminous green of the mountain grass burned into my memory forever. Returned to his natural form in death, his dead eyes looked up at me in silent apology.

 
Rage overtook me and I shifted from the wolf to my lion form, unable to think of anything other than killing and death. I would avenge my family, my race, no matter what.


 

***

 

Kat 

 

Present

 


It had been a royally jacked up day…again. I’d mouthed off one time too many at my ass-hole boss, so I was jobless with only ten days to pay my rent or I’d be homeless for the holidays on top of everything else. No, I’m not sentimental. If not for the cold, the time of year wouldn’t have mattered to me in the least. Yeah, freezing to death outside is not on my bucket list. 

 
Taking my precious time, I gathered the few things I kept at work and still cared about and marched toward the exit. Before I left, I just had to give my former boss one last glare. 

 
He sneered. Bastard. 

 
It took every ounce of self-control I could muster, and unfortunately that’s not saying much, to keep from throwing something at his shiny, bald head. I was cool, though, turned the back doorknob and used my knee to shove it open. 

 
Once outside, I exhaled, then slid into my trusty second-hand Honda CRV. My itchy fingers couldn’t wait, so I hit the call button as soon as I sat behind the wheel and called my friend, Shell. “Hey. Can you talk?” I whispered when she answered because in my mind, whispering made it okay to call her at work in the middle of the day.

 
“Um, yeah. Give me a minute to clock out for break.” 

 
The voices in the background reminded me that it was just after 1 p.m. and some of the restaurant’s lunch diners were still hanging out. A few minutes later, I heard the door opening, then the chaos of cars passing as Shell stepped outside. “What’s up?”

 
“That dirty bastard fired me.” 

 
Before I could launch into details, Shell sighed and asked her usual question. “Kat, for crissakes what did you do this time?”

 
“Nothing. Why do you always assume…”  I caught myself just in time before sounding like one of those life-time criminals who claim they’ve never done anything wrong and they can’t imagine why the whole world is persecuting them. “Well,” I continued, owning up to my stuff. “I know I need to get a handle on my temper but he deserved it. I’ve been sick of him hitting on me for the longest, and today just wasn’t the day.”

 
“I can’t float you much right now. With Christmas right around the corner and you know I’ve gotta get the kids something so—”

 
“Did I ask you for anything? I’ll be fine. Unlike you, I don’t have anybody to buy presents for. Christmas is just another spot on the calendar as far as I’m concerned. Besides, you’re the only one who cares about me.” Somehow, that last statement sounded a whole lot sadder when I said it out loud.

 
“That’s not true. You—”

 
I laughed, cutting Shell off before she started in on me with her counseling act. The last thing I wanted was a pity party, and I damn sure didn’t need a counselor. I’d already seen more than I cared to count and none of them did any good. “Hey. Remember when the sisters forced all of us to exchange good deeds at the orphanage?”

 
“Yeah,” Shell joined in. “We did our good deeds for each other.” She laughed. “We had some good times there, girl. You made it good times. It’s gonna be alright.”

 
“I know. Hell, I feel better already. Just telling you made me feel better. Anyway, you’d better get back to work so at least one of us has a job. I don’t need money,” I lied, “but I might need a place to stay.”

 
“What’s that saying? Mi casa and all that. Anytime and always, girl.”

 
My mind was already made up before we ended the call. Right then, I wanted to go almost anywhere other than home to my depressing apartment and the loud, unappealing sounds coming from my stomach reminded me of yet another regrettable decision to skip lunch. Changing direction, I turned away from my apartment, heading towards fast-food strip. 

 
That was when I felt it – someone was watching me.

 
I looked in every direction, but the people around seemed to be going about their own business. Shaking my head, I brushed it off. Why would anyone be following me? No reason. No reason at all. 

 
In the midst of deciding what I wanted and could afford to eat, I glanced over and smiled. My plans were changing once again. Taking up half a block on the other side of the street was possibly the best night spot I’d ever visited, the perfect pick-me-up for tonight. 

 
With something to look forward to later, I ditched the idea of wasting my pennies on fast food and headed home after all. Thankfully, I had food at home, I’d stocked up on my medicine so the migraines wouldn’t take me out, one paycheck in hand, and a final check coming in two-weeks. A turkey sandwich would do just fine for now, but there it was again, the prickling sensation at the back of my neck. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being followed.

 
Interview:

Why do you write?

I write for two main reasons:

  1. Reading has always been one of my favorite things, and I feel gratitude towards authors who offer an escape from the difficulties of real life. I strive to do the same, and in writing, I manage to escape as well.
  2. Human and animal rights. Animals and their welfare play a prominent role in my stories, and I am driven to subtly shed light on the dearth of Black and interracial female heroines as standards of beauty and desirability. Too often, people from other cultures don’t realize the lack and the resulting negative impact erasure and subsequent neglect have on us as women.

What genre does most of your work fall under?

Urban fantasy/ paranormal romance. I’m also collaborating on a mystery with Muffy Wilson, and after its release I’m working on a psy-thriller/suspense with romantic elements to be released next year.

Why did you choose that genre?

Feels like home to me. These sub-genres allow my imagination complete freedom, and I can better offer the sense of escape that I’m seeking.

What are some of the drawbacks of this genre?

There are so many creative authors, thinking of something that hasn’t been done to death can be challenging.

What are some of the benefits?

In some ways, the drawbacks are the benefits as well; i.e., accepting the challenge to think outside the box and create yet another world for readers to escape to is exhilarating. I enjoy taking real people who have always considered themselves to be ordinary, and placing them in extraordinary, supernatural situations and environments. It adds even more fire when the “ordinary” person develops strong feelings for a paranormal being, or in some instances finds that they, themselves possess exceptional abilities.

How does your work contribute to the genre?

I write interracial/multicultural characters who are not only dealing with the main plots, romance, and conflict, but there’s always a subplot dealing with a real-life issue such as animal cruelty, human rights issues, and racism. The subplots don’t slap readers in the face and snap them away from their escape, but I like to think they shed light on issues that might not have been considered in the same way before.

What would the title of your life story be? And why?

Driven. I’ve always felt driven to do something with the gifts God has given me. Now, managing chronic illness along with daily pain and numerous surgical procedures, has added a level of urgency because I’m constantly faced with my own mortality.

Besides writing, what other creative passions do you have?

Music and art. I also love dance, but with my tomboy roots, I’m about as graceful as a donkey.

Which quote best sums up your writing style?

“Strong heroines, badass heroes, fast-paced, action packed…lots of twists and turns…filled with romance, suspense, and drama…”

Totally Addicted 2 Reading

Tell us about your background and education?

My degrees are in music (piano and vocal performance), counseling psychology (mental health, substance abuse, and career decisions), and I have all but dissertation (ABD due to illness) towards my Ph.D. Along the way, I’ve taught every academic subject, private piano and voice lessons, and worked from child support investigations to mental health and substance abuse therapy to band director and college career counselor. It’s been an interesting journey so far.

Which are your three favorites?

Whichever story I’m writing at the moment. Right now, it would have to be “Devil’s Claim,” from the “Wings of the Wicked” boxed set, “Dangerous Beauty, Sexy Beast,” and “Dark Opius,” a Cursed Angel story from the Charmed Legacy.

What writing advice would you give to yourself prior to completing your first novel?

Write at least 2 books of an entire series before releasing the first one, then release them 2-months apart. That way, by the time people start to forget, there’s another one in the wind. Wish I’d taken that advice.

Dariel Raye
Dariel Raye, an author, musician, counseling psychologist, and animal rights activist, writes interracial/multicultural paranormal romance and dark urban fantasy featuring shifters, Nephilim, angels, and reluctant demons, all filled with action, alpha heroes, and strong heroines. As a child, she could always be found curled up with her dogs, cats, and a good book, even if the book was a dictionary or encyclopedia. Things have not changed much.

Dariel is a classically trained soprano and plays more than 11 musical instruments. She also completed coursework and passed comprehensives for a Ph.D. in Instructional Design (ABD), teaches piano and voice, tutors writing, algebra, and statistics, and readily admits to being a Netflix paranormal and action series binge-watcher. For more about Dariel, join her VIP Readers’ club, follow her on BookBub, or visit her website.

Awards:

     2019 Florida Authors and Publishers Assn (FAPA) Contest First Place Gold Medal Winner in Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Dark Opius

     2019 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Award Winner Romance ~ Fantasy/Sci-Fi: Dark Opius

    2019 Readers’ Favorite Finalist Award Romance ~ Fantasy/Sci-Fi: Devil’s Claim

    2017 SWFRWThe Joyce Henderson Contest ~ First Place Paranormal Award: Mystic Rapture

   Website  Blog  Amazon AuthorPage  BookBub Author Page  Twitter  Pinterest  Facebook  Facebook Fan Page  Facebook Street Team   Newsletter Sign-Up  Goodreads   BookSprout   Instagram

 

Many thanks to Muffy Wilson for arranging these interviews and compiling all the information!

Bio Pic

Katherine Eddinger Smits grew up wanting to be a mermaid but discovered to her dismay this was not a viable career choice. Instead, she became a clinical social worker and helped veterans and their families.

Now she brings social work training and experience to her stories of mermaids, mages and magical creatures. Within the context of fantasy and romance, her novels explore real-life issues of self-acceptance, body image, relationship dynamics, and fears and phobias. Mystery, suspense, and a little sex add spice to her books.

She is the author of four paranormal romances.

Katherine and her husband divide their time between Florida and West Virginia. Their children and granddaughters live in Virginia.

Besides writing, Katherine is a blogger, mom, Mimi, dressage rider, and clog dancer.

Sign up for her quarterly newsletter and receive a free short story! Newsletters always include contests, freebies and fun.  http://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/