Matthew’s Present

Matthew’s Present by Sarah Hadley Brook

I won a copy of this book in a drawing and I couldn’t be more pleased. I not only read a delightful story, but was introduced to a new author.

Who doesn’t remember their first kiss? I remember mine, and it was sixty-two years ago.

Matthew and Tyler both remember that day back in high school even though they never saw each other again. It took a six-year-old’s whisper into Santa’s ear to bring them together.

Although it’s meant as a story about two men falling in love, I saw more in it than that. I saw a sister who accepted and loved her brother enough to teach her six-year-old daughter that Uncle Matthew would rather have a boyfriend than a girlfriend. Admittedly, I guessed what Hannah asked Santa for, but didn’t know how he would deliver it.

My rating – 5 stars

The Adventures of Damien and Drew – chapter one

The Adventures of Damien and Drew

Part I

Damien and the Wolf

Chapter one

Damien Talon looked down at the rural gravel road. No traffic was visible for at least five miles in either direction. As he began descending, the talons wrapped around the handlebars of the big motorcycle transformed into hands. By the time the wheels of the bike hit the gravel, dragon had become fully human, and the bright morning sun hit his champagne-blond hair warming the top of his head after the chill of flight.

He was tired of following dead-end leads in this case. After six months, he’d found no sign of his quarry and was beginning to think the man had completely disappeared. This was the part of his job he hated. Hopefully he could bring this guy in alive. He hated the fact that his last case had ended in the culprit’s death before he could face his accusers.

His mind wandered to the last lead he’d followed. The person there bore no resemblance at all to Jake Bush. The two nights in the company of the bear shifter who’d provided the false lead had been enjoyable, but he wasn’t someone Damien would want to have around for any length of time. Was he ever going to find someone to fill the void in his heart left by James nearly a hundred years ago when he was killed with a silver blade? That was one problem with living so long. Just about the time you thought happiness would last forever, someone died and you were left alone. Maybe someday he’d find his ‘happily ever after’.

Damien parked the silver Harley in front of the police department of Oak Grove, stepped off the bike, brushed his hair out of his eyes, and looked up and down the street. He thought it strange that there was no one visible in the middle of the morning. A chill ran up his spine, and his magical senses told him he was finally in the right place. The evil he chased was nearby. He walked into the building and approached the desk sergeant. “Good morning. I’m looking for Captain Keller.”

The sergeant looked up from his computer behind the waist-high wall. “May I tell him who’s here?”

“Damien Talon.”

“Is he expecting you?”

“I don’t think so. I haven’t communicated with him.”

“May I tell him what it’s regarding?”

He hesitated. It wasn’t always a good idea to reveal too much to humans. “I’m really not sure. I just know I’m supposed to be here.” If he were Spiderman, he’d call it ‘Spidey senses’. He guessed he could call it ‘dragon senses’.

The sergeant stood and walked down a hall.

Damien looked around at the stark furnishings. He took a deep breath. Yes, Bush was close, but he wasn’t sure just where yet.

The sergeant returned. “Have a seat; he’ll be with you shortly. Would you like some coffee?”

“Never drink the stuff. It interferes with my senses.”

The sergeant looked at him questioningly.

“Mr. Talon?”

He turned and came face to face with an older, stocky man. His uniform identified him as a chief of police.

“I’m Chief Mason. How can I help you?”

“Thanks for seeing me.” Damien pulled a photo out of an inside pocket in his leather jacket. “Have you seen this man?”

The chief looked at the photo and then handed it to the sergeant. “Can’t say I have. How about you, Jones?”

Sergeant Jones shook his head. “No. Not that I remember.”

“Come on back to my office.” The chief opened the gate in the low wall. “Who do you work for? Do you have any ID?”

Damien pulled a badge holder off of his belt and showed it to the chief.

Mason squinted at the badge. “C.O.S.” He looked back at Damien. “I’ve never heard of this agency.”

“We keep a pretty low profile most of the time.” Damien smiled. “Rest assured, we’re the good guys.”

The chief opened the door to his office and stood back for Damien to enter.

“Have a seat. Are you an American agency?”

“That depends on who you ask and what you mean by American. We’re more international than American. We go after the bad guys who belong to our group. Kind of like good cops who go after bad cops. Some these are really bad guys, and some are just mischief makers.”

The chief went behind his desk and sat. “Would you like some coffee?”

Damien sat facing the desk. “Your sergeant already offered. I’m not much into coffee.”

“So what has this guy done?”

“Found out his wife was unfaithful. Killed her and her four kids.”

The chief’s eyes and mouth popped open. “Why didn’t he just leave? The wife, I can see. But four innocent kids?”

“Yeah.”

Chief Keller clicked his computer mouse over the screen. “I don’t see any bulletins about him.”

“We keep a pretty tight rein on our people, try to keep things out of the main stream and handle them ourselves.”

“Who are your people?”

“We belong to an elite group. Don’t like to advertise ourselves too much.”

“So you think your guy’s here?”

Damien raised an eyebrow. “I know he’s here somewhere. I just have to find him.”

The chief squinted. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“No trouble from me. Just keep your men out of my way, and I’ll handle things.”

The chief stood and held out his hand. “Don’t give me cause to lock you up.”

“Don’t worry.” Damien softly chuckled as he stood and shook the chief’s hand. “You’d have a hard time doing that anyway. Can you tell me a cheap but clean motel to stay at?”

“There’s a Super 8 on the highway north of town.”

“Thanks. I’ll see you around.”

* * *

Damien checked into the motel and left his gear. He invoked an invisibility spell and went out of the door startling a maid who was coming out of the unit next door.

She looked around frantically as he closed and locked the door. She walked away shaking her head and muttering to herself about a ghost.

Damien stood on the sidewalk outside the unit, morphed into his natural dragon form, and took off. He flew over the town watching all movement below him. After about half an hour of finding no sign of anyone who tripped his radar, he returned to the motel, landed, and morphed back into human form. He stepped behind a dumpster and dropped his invisibility. Going into the room, he pulled out his phone and called his superior officer. “Captain?”

There was a loud exhale of breath. “What have you found?” Captain Willis asked in his cigarette-roughened voice.

“He’s here; I can feel him. I met with the police chief. Told him I was looking for Bush. He and the desk sergeant both said they haven’t seen him. Keller was inquisitive as to who I work for.”

“What did you say?”

Damien grinned. “Just that I work for an international agency of good guys.”

“Keep in touch, and try to stay out of trouble this time. I don’t want to have to explain things to the mortals like I did last time. Had to do a mind cleansing so they’d forget what happened. Can’t have dragons popping up all over the place killing people.”

“Ten-four, I’ll try.”

Damien stripped and lay on the bed. Pictures of the slain children filled his mind. Why kill the kids? They were innocent. After tossing for several minutes, he finally fell asleep.

Free read coming

Watch for the Adventures of Damien and Drew to be printed here starting May 1. Each Monday will bring a new chapter between 500-1000 words.

 

 

Power Play – A. J. Marcus

Naga Industries wasn’t Calvin’s first choice of a place to intern. It wasn’t even his tenth. But when every other internship spot is taken, he finds himself at the mercy of Draeke Lindwurm and he’s way over his head.

Draeke doesn’t want an intern, but his go-to man is threatening to revolt if he doesn’t get them both some help. Calvin is everything Draeke doesn’t like in men. He’s too young, too average, never on time, doesn’t dress well, and worst of all Calvin is human which makes things complicated between them when he becomes a pawn in a power play with the world’s dragon elite.

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I’ve followed the career of this author for several years and thoroughly enjoy reading and reviewing his books. There are several elements one comes to expect from a Marcus book: drama, excitement, mystery, a growing emotional tenderness between the main characters, and erotic sex. And all of these elements are present in Power Play. However, I was a little disappointed regarding the erotic sex. It felt as if the author realized he was at the last chapter and needed to add some sex to fulfill the publisher’s requirement. I would have been okay with the scene being omitted.

I could feel Calvin’s confusion as to just what he’d gotten into when he became an intern for Naga Industries. I felt the growing emotions between him and Draeke Lindwurm. I felt the heart-racing excitement when Calvin is kidnapped and Draeke is looking for him – will they find him before something happens to him. I’ll admit I figured out who the villain was before he was named, but that didn’t lessen the drama of the chase to find him.

Did I enjoy the book? Of course. Would I recommend this book? Definitely. Will I read another Marcus book? Most certainly.

Buy at Amazon

The Cowboy’s Clown – A. J. Marcus

Scott wasn’t looking for more than a quick evening’s enjoyment when he picked up Luke while driving home for the rodeo and livestock auction. Luke makes a big impression on Scott and when a people around them start turning up dead, he hangs by Scott and does what he can to help out. But as the bodies continue to pile up, Scott begins to wonder who he can really trust. Will the emotions he feels for Luke survive as they struggle to find the answers to who’s trying to kill him, and why?

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I do a lot of reading of what are called romantic books, some erotic and some not so erotic. To my way of thinking, there are two types of erotic books whether they are gay or straight. In one type, if you take away the sex, there’s no story left. In the other type, take away the sex and you have an interesting and exciting plot. Thus it is with Cowboy’s Clown.

When Scott gives Luke a ride, it could be just another erotic sex book. But the mystery surrounding the death of Scott’s foreman, Rich, creates a whole different type of book. When a number of bodies are found in Scott’s manure heap, he wonders just what his foreman has been up to. After several attempts on Scott and Luke’s lives, they find Rich was a member of a group of people intent on keeping Mexicans out of the country. The surprising twists and turns while seeking the killers will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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Hunted by Caitlin Ricci and A. J. Marcus

Malik Converse’s life changed dramatically when vampires showed up in pack territory and killed every werewolf they could find. He was out with a hunting party and escaped the worst of the attack, and now he and a packmate are on the run. They’re doing their best to evade the vampires who attacked them while plotting their vengeance.
Aren Ibsen has roamed the vampire courts for centuries, keeping his finger in the pot of vampire politics but never straying too deeply into those tormented waters. When the king of North America is killed by a werewolf, the new king leads the vampires on a crusade to wipe the werewolves off the continent. Aren and some of the other vampires wonder if this brash move is wise.
Aren and Malik cross paths, and they suddenly realize they have similar goals and a mutual attraction. With forces rallying against them, can they survive as fate pushes them to take on roles they never expected? If they do survive this, will the vampire and werewolf communities accept them and the love that blossoms between them?

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It was with some trepidation I agreed to read and review this book after receiving it as an ARC. As a general rule, I don’t care for vampire stories because they are usually full of ‘blood and gore’. I’ll have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. In this day of everyone painting all members of an ethnic group with the same brush, Hunted proves that all groups have both good and bad members.

Aren goes against the conceived stereotype of ‘vampire’. He really doesn’t like killing people in order to drink their blood. When he meets Malik, he finds more in common with the werewolf than with many of his own kind, particularly his new king.

The pace of the book is exciting with not too much blood, and just enough sex without going overboard on either.

I have to say, I look forward to more adventures starring Aren and Malik as they strive to unite the vampires and shifters.

Buy at Amazon

 

 

The Fool – A. J. Marcus

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When the past comes back to haunt them, can these two men rekindle the flame they thought they’d lost and the magic that comes with that love?

When Arron Carmichael and Ramsey Roland broke up it devastated both of them, but Ramsey couldn’t handle Arron’s family secret. When the family business brings them together, they discover Ramsey has a secret larger than any Arron thought possible.

Arron is part of the Gardener family, a group of witches who have protected the world from daemons for thousands of years. Ramsey couldn’t deal with the magic that was an intricate part of Arron’s life, so he told Arron they were finished, and he needed to leave. His decision left two hearts broken.

When Ramsey is mugged while going to a bar to hang out with friends, it opens him up to the world Arron had hinted at, but it also brings Arron back into his life. Arron does his best to save Ramsey from the dark forces that are hunting them both. When they learn the reason Ramsey is being hunted, it shocks them both to their cores but brings them closer together. Only together can they hope to defeat the forces working against them.

 

As a reviewer, sometimes you’re asked to review something in a genre other than what you normally would read. Such it is with A.J. Marcus’ “The Fool”. I personally don’t care for what I call ‘blood and gore’, and this book has some.

I am giving it 5 stars because:

The story line is good. The writing is good. And I can recommend this for people who are into this type of story. A story of a fight between daemons and witches.

The relationship between Ramsey and Aaron is sweet and at the same time erotic as to be expected from Marcus.

 

From Extasy Books