What Are You Reading This Weekend?

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The Antlered Ship Cover by Eric Fan

For kids, I recommend The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater with fabulous illustrations by the Fan brothers.  BTW, it’s a great story too!

Art available at Society6.

I’m reading a new scifi/steampunk novel by R. J. Theodore.  It’s called Flotsam and is the first in a series called Peridot Shift.  I admit, I was drawn in by the cover.  🙂 So far, it’s been all action and colorful characters!

On the audiobook side, I’m listening to Beneath a Waning Moon.  This is actually two books in one, featuring the very gothic A Very Proper Monster by Elizabeth Hunter which I’ve actually finished, and Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven.  As you might have guessed by the title, I am immersed in steampunk right now!

What are you reading this weekend?

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Tempting Jupiter (Arena Dogs, #2) by Charlee Allden – Feature

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About Tempting Jupiter

Two scorching hot heroes and one dangerously secretive woman are about to collide.

Jupiter and Seneca are Arena Dogs, genetically engineered slaves created to serve at the will of their masters. From the beginning, Jupiter was destined for the gladiator arena where a Dog faces death every day. Seneca became a gladiator only after years of abuse in a pleasure house and he owes his success in the arena to the Dog he secretly loves—Jupiter. Slated for death after a rigged match in the gladiator arena, they’re instead rescued and taken off the planet by the Resistance. When the escape ship is recaptured, their only hope to remain free is a human woman with an agenda and secrets of her own.

Feeona is a thief and a con artist, but that doesn’t make her one of the bad guys. Normally, the Arena Dogs would be safe in her care. Even if she wasn’t crazy attracted to them she’d want to help them, but their presence has interfered with her plans and a cause so close to her soul that nothing can be more important—not even the two men who are rapidly taking up residence in her heart.

Will Feeona find a way to save them all or will she be forced to choose who to save and who to betray?

This is book two in the Arena Dogs Series, but the story is a novel length, stand alone romance.

Excerpt from Tempting Jupiter

Jupiter woke to a sharp spasm in his belly and a confusing mix of scents. An unfamiliar figure leaned over him. Acting on instinct, he tried to shove the shadowy attacker away, but his muscles were weak. The silhouette hunched over him blurred at the edges as light bled around to reveal hints of the creature’s identity. Clothed, small, bloody—with Jupiter’s blood. When he lurched forward, the flex of his abdominals shot shards of icy, strength-stealing pain through his muscles. His right arm didn’t respond at all and the left moved only inches before it bumped benignly against his torturer.

“Hey, hold still, big guy. I’m working here.”

The voice was gruff, annoyed, and female. As she looked up from her task, light painted her features and Jupiter’s vision adjusted to his current reality. She was human. He lay on the floor and she kneeled beside him. There was something chemical overpowering her feminine scent markers. What he could read from her, told him she was anxious but not why. Despite her demanding tone, she was not a guard. Not a threat.

“What are you doing?” Forcing out the words helped focus his mind. Roma had few females on staff. Most were medics.

“I’m trying to close this wound. I’ve got sealer here, but it’s a mess.”

He lifted his head to look down his body. The woman’s hands were steady, but she was trying to push the edges of the wound closed with only her fingers and they kept slipping in the blood.

“I said hold still, damn it. You’ll only make it bleed more.” She reached for a crimson-soaked wad of gauze and wiped futilely at the blood. “Crap! The sealer won’t bond if I can’t get the edges together. I think the major repair job inside is okay, but you’ve ripped the wound open and torn it even farther. What did this, anyway? Looks like someone tried to punch a hole in your chest.”

The memory of the spike stabbing into his chest flashed in and out of his thoughts. It had been an accident. A misplaced elbow and a spiked gauntlet worn by his opponent. Jupiter’s thoughts went to Seneca. They both were meant to die in that match. The ache of worry for his pack brother rivaled the pain of the hole in his gut.

“Damn.” The woman’s curse refocused his attention on the present.

Her focus was entirely on her task.

It was going badly.

Where were the tools of her trade? He’d spent enough time in the med center to know them all on sight. Clamps? A suture threader? No arena healer lowered themselves to the floor to treat a Dog. No, she was no medic. He looked around but recognized nothing. The unadorned walls were close. A bunk hung from one wall, and an energy field of some kind filled the only exit.

Jupiter tried again to lift his left hand. His arm stretched out along the floor until it bumped against the woman. He managed to bend it, but lifting it clear of her was beyond his strength. “Help me pull my arm over you.”

“Uh, I’m a little busy—”

He growled with all his strength to stop her flow of words and gain her compliance.

Her head lifted and she met his stare with wide, surprised eyes. The vivid green of them startled him when everything else about her was muted and unadorned. She wore her hair in a skull-hugging style that ended in a knot at her neck. Her clothes were a dull black and they covered her skin, neck to toe.

“Do. It.” He ground the words out between clenched teeth.

“Oo-kay. But if you die, it won’t be my fault.” She stopped and twisted to wrap her hands around his left forearm.
She ducked under it, and then brought it close to his torso. His nostrils flared as he got a better whiff of her. Beneath that chemical tinge that masked her scent, there was none of the stench he associated with humans. Her subtle female essence coiled in his lungs, soft and tempting.

“You’re human,” he accused. Her scent shouldn’t stroke his senses.

She leaned over him again. “Yeah, you got a problem with that?”

“Yes.” He flexed his hand and his claws flicked out.

Her startled gaze darted to his and she studied him through her lashes. She swallowed as if her words had lodged in her throat and sat back on her heels. “Well.” A false note of teasing lilted through her voice. “I suggest you wait until after I’m done patching you up before you kill me.”

He dipped his chin in agreement. “That was my plan.”

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About the Author

Charlee Allden is a long time fan of love, adventure, and happily-ever-after. She grew up in Florida where a huge fallen oak tree in the swampy woods near her home served as her very own Star Ship Enterprise. Luckily the alligators were almost never a problem on her spaceship as the flight-deck was several feet above the muddy ground. She did lose a few tennis shoes on away missions, though. Today, Charlee is a multi award winning author of sexy romance. She still lives in Florida across the street from a miniature version of the swamp she lived by as a child.

You can connect with Charlee online at www.charleeallden.com or on her Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/CharleeAlldenAuthor.

London Calling: Three Scintillating Victorian Steampunk Tales – Review

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Review by KJ Van Houten

Review of London Calling

London Calling is a trilogy of novellas, so I will first discuss each individually:

Seducing the Assassin (The Ladies League book 1) by Sorcha Mowbray

This novella features Jo Stanton, a trained assassin who also runs a popular London brothel, and John Griffin, Earl of Melton. The story begins as Jo is hired to assassinate the Earl of Melton. When her attempt fails, Jo and John are drawn together, not only by attraction but also as an investigative team trying to discover who wanted John dead in the first place. Their search takes them across England and into the world of politics, where the debate between steam power vs. electrical power divides Parliament and the mysterious Lord of Cogs becomes a rallying point for some and a nuisance for others. As Jo and John uncover the secrets each holds, they find that falling in love is a greater power than any other. The romance seemed a bit rushed but that’s almost expected in a novella where there just isn’t enough time for more. This novella reads very much like a typical historical romance — often found it easy to forget I was reading a steampunk story. It was an enjoyable read, seen as either steampunk or not.

Darkness Rises (The Dreadfuls, book 1) by TL Reeve and Michele Ryan

This novella could easily have been cross referenced as paranormal as well as steampunk. The cast of characters involved ‘monsters’ such as vampires, werewolves, demons, and ‘monsters’ that are suspiciously like but not called Frankenstein’s monster, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, and the invisible man. Lead by vampire Jonah McRae, this team of ‘Dreadfuls’ join up with monster hunters led by Annabelle Craig to fight a horde of zombies that are invading London. In addition to fighting his vampiric urges, Jonah’s life is complicated by a growing attraction between Annabelle and himself. How can a ‘monster’ fall in love with a monster hunter and protect humanity at the same time? I found this story to be quite enjoyable in its concept of ‘monsters’ coming together to better themselves and to protect humanity. Each of the ‘Dreadfuls’ mentioned seems to have an interesting background and story to tell, sadly a novella is too short to go into enough of those. Unfortunately, the novella does get too heavy just with introductions of these characters. Too many characters and too many new names for those characters put into the story. I found myself frequently looking back to see who is who. Again, the steampunk aspects could almost be overlooked in this novella. Other than some references to interesting weaponry, a robotic butler, and a twist on the zombies, of course.

Her Clockwork Heart by Dena Garson

This novella focuses on Nathaniel Dennison, an investigator with the Royal Intelligence Office, and Trixie Wadeworth, an enterprising businesswoman with whom Nathaniel was previously romantically involved. The story starts as Nathaniel is working late in the office one night, working on a case of missing scientists. Hearing an odd noise, he stumbles onto Trixie breaking into the RIO trying to find information about her inventor and businessman father, who died several years before, as well as her missing brother. As the two reconnect and discover the fire of their previous romance is not dead after all, they discover their two cases are related and team up to find their answers together. This story felt much more ‘steampunkish’ than the other two in this anthology. Trixie has many interesting mechanical assistants that help her in a number of ways, and the presence of airships and other steam-powered transportation options is much more prevalent in this story. There was also a really nice mix of mystery and romance in this story. I would love to see this one expanded into a full-size novel!

Overall, I enjoyed the London Calling anthology very much. Although it’s been a while since I’ve been drawn into either the steampunk or a paranormal genres, this set peaks my interest in both again. The only reason I didn’t give a full 5 stars is because the cast of characters in Darkness Rises got confusing at times, plus two of the three didn’t have a typical steampunk feel, more as if steampunk elements were thrown in incidentally. (Although I will stress that those two were equally enjoyable to read.) I do hope each of these novellas is a start for more and longer stories to come!

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