Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Guardian of the Ivalice by Laura Catherine

Title: The Guardians of Ivalice
Author: Laura Catherine 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Release Date: 
June 24, 2017
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

On Ivalice, Prince Morgan has been living in the shadow of his twin brother and older sister. She will be queen one day and inherit the power of Spirit to protect their world and guard the other elements from harm. Morgan wants this power for himself and nothing will stop him from getting it, not even his family. With her dying breath, Queen Tamsin sends the elements to another world where Morgan cannot have them.

On Earth, Nix, Grace, Kendra and Phoebe are four ordinary teenage girls living normal lives where homework and boys are their biggest problems. That is until they absorb some strange glowing balls of light into their bodies and start controlling the elements.

Everything is about to change for these girls when the weight of an entire world is put on their shoulders.

The bus was old and probably in need of replacing with ripped seats and graffiti on everything including the roof. It also smelled like those tree air fresheners.

She made her way down the aisle to her favourite spot. It was about halfway down the bus, not so close to the front that you had to sit near a teacher but not so far back that you stayed away from the school bullies in the back row.

Nix slid into her favourite seat, the one graffittied in lyrics from her favourite band Chaos Destiny.


Nix looked up to see the new girl staring down at her.

“Hi,” Nix replied. “You’re the new girl.”

“Phoebe Jenkins,” she said with an awkward smile.

Poor girl, Nix thought, doesn’t know anyone.

“Ah, I’m saving the seat next to me for my friend, but you should sit in front of us.”

Phoebe looked surprised at the offer and Nix wondered if other people had been less nice to her. 

Hopefully she hadn’t been subject to the antics of the school bully, Jasper.

“Go on, sit,” Nix encouraged with a smile.

“Thank you,” Phoebe replied and perched herself on the seat ahead of Nix.

“I shotgunned the window side,” Grace said as she pushed her way through the aisle of students still taking their seats.

Nix moved out of the way so Grace could claim her prize. Grace was always last to be called for things because her last name was West.

“What did I miss?” Grace said leaning on the back of Phoebe’s seat.

“Grace this is Phoebe,” Nix introduced.

“Ah, new girl,” Grace said with a cheesy grin. “Excellent. How are you liking Verndale?”

Phoebe sat up straight, pushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “It is a very beautiful town,” she replied. Her voice was soft like a gentle touch of fingers on guitar strings.

“Great. Just stick with us and you can’t go wrong.” Grace winked and leaned back in her seat.

Mr. Haynes appeared at the front of the bus, ushering people to take their seats so he could do a head count.

“Now today’s excursion—”

Mr. Haynes was cut short as a dark skinned girl with a shining curtain of black hair raced up the bus steps.

“Kendra,” Mr. Haynes said a little startled. “Where have you been? I called your name a while ago.”

“I’ve been objecting,” she said giving him a dazzling white smile.

“Objecting.” Mr Haynes nodded then did a double take. “Objecting to what?”

“I’m objecting to this excursion. I shouldn’t have to be forced into a swamp against my will.”

“I am sorry, Miss Tate, but there are other places out there besides the mall,” said Mr. Cole, the sports teacher who was accompanying Mr. Haynes on the trip.

The students giggled. Kendra pouted and looked like she was going to argue the point, but Mr. Haynes asked her to take a seat.

Laura Catherine was born in Melbourne, Australia and spent most of her childhood creating fantasy worlds and talking to her invisible pet cheetah who ran along powerlines.

Her imagination has carried her through childhood where her mother read stories about fantasy worlds at bedtime. Never one to face reality, Laura spent a lot of time turning boxes into ships and castles.

Laura self-published her first novel, Djinn (2013), a Paranormal Romance, and the second in the series, Blooders (2015). Laura is currently working on the next instalment in the Djinn series, Bloodjinn, as well as a few other novels including the first in a new YA series, The Guardians of Ivalice.

Author Spotlight on Rick H. Veal

Today we are learning about author Rick H. Veal, thanks Rick!  Yes, I've read Rick's epic sage The Master of Whitehall.  It appeals to my paranormal and my romantic side.   A big thank you to Rick for taking the time for me!  I really appreciate it.  

Author Bio
Rick H. Veal was born sometime during the last half of the twentieth century in the upstate of South Carolina and has spent the majority of his life there. He joined the Navy immediately out of high school becoming an aircraft mechanic. During a six year span he sailed four times around the world and had the pleasure of visiting eighteen different countries. He says of that time that he did about two thirds of everything there was to do and was accused of taking part in the other one third.
After returning home he attended The University of South Carolina graduating with a double Associates Degree with Honors. He completed his education at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in History and Education. Since that time he has worked in the education field as a teacher and in various management positions in industry. He currently lives alone and shares his home with his ‘daughter’, a six year old Tuxedo cat who graciously allows him to think he actually owns the house. Her name is ‘Daddy's Pretty Girl’ but she will actually answer to anything except ‘Late for Dinner’.
His two favorite authors are Anne Rice and Clive Cussler. He enjoys Cussler's storytelling ability and Rice's attention to detail. He considers Anne Rice, The Grand Dame of Vampire Writers, to be the architect of the modern vampire genre. Her works are the foundation on which current writers continue to build and expand the field. He believes that current writers of vampire lore owe her a huge debt of gratitude for laying that foundation. Clive Cussler, his other favorite author, is the quintessential American storyteller, one who is able to spin a yarn that draws the reader in from the very beginning. Both of them have a way of bringing their characters to life so that you feel as if you personally know them. Veal hopes that his readers will be able to see the influence of those two great writers in his writing as he tries to convey the same believability with his characters.
He has been a reader for most of his life and enjoyed much of what he's read. He has always enjoyed reading about and watching movies on the subject of vampires. He was completely hooked by Barnabas Collins in ‘Dark Shadows’ way back in 1966. After reading all the vampire books he could … Rice, Smith, Harris, Craine, Meyer … he decided that if they could write a vampire story, then so could he and he set out to do just that. 
He decided that a setting with a rich history surrounding it would be ideal for a paranormal love story. Charleston and the surrounding Low Country of South Carolina, replete with an abundant history of ghosts and the unknown, combined with the lore of Vampire stories just seemed to be made for each other. So tying the two together he formed the initial idea and built on it from there.
The result of his efforts is The Epic Saga of The Master of Whitehall, a sweeping three volume narrative set in historic Charleston and the surrounding Low Country of South Carolina. A forth novel, the first of a two volume prequel to The Master of Whitehall, is in progress with one more planned for a total of five volumes in the series.
His other works include Jennifer’s Ghost, a short story set in beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina and Hannah’s Heartache, a Master of Whitehall novelette, set in Savannah, Georgia.
It has been said that that if you want to write, you should “write the book you want to read, and then others will want to read it too”. That is exactly what he hopes he has accomplished in his own writings.
All of his books, Katelyn’s Chronicles, Lexi’s Legacy, Dale’s Descent, Charlotte Ann's Coven, Jennifer’s Ghost and Hannah’s Heartache are available at in both print and e-book formats. 
Should you wish to receive a personally inscribed and signed copy of any of his books please contact him directly for more information. He can be contacted via e-mail at, his website,

What inspired you to write the story of The Master of Whitehall?

I have read and enjoyed vampire stories all of my life and the idea of writing my own story has been around for a long time. I actually wrote my first ‘spooky’ story when I was still a child. However, the decision to write actually came after surviving two heart attacks in the same weekend. During my recovery, I realized how short life can be and how quickly it can potentially be over. I came to the conclusion that if I intended to leave anything behind that was lasting, now would be the time to do so. I began to consider my own mortality, and realized that if I really wanted to write, now was the time to begin … not next week, next month, or next year … and that was five and a half years ago. When I decided to begin my story, I followed the advice of Anne Rice to “write the kind of story I would enjoy reading, and then other people would enjoy it too.”
I chose to write “The Master of Whitehall” for the new adult/college age reader because most of the books I have read in the vampire romance genre are either in the young adult/high school or adult age range. There just didn’t seem to be anything for the transition age range. I wanted something that would fill in the gap between L.J. Smith and Anne Rice.
I’m a big fan of Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles”, Rachel Craine’s “Morganville Vampires”, Charlene Harris’ “Sookie Stackhouse”, and L.J. Smith’s “Night World”. I came to the conclusion that if they could write a vampire story, then I could do the same. I began to think about the best traits of all the characters of all the books I have enjoyed over the years and “The Master of Whitehall” was born.

Why did you choose vampires and Charleston?
I have to thank my very first childhood sweetheart, Robin Waters, for introducing me to vampires. She and I used to watch “Dark Shadows” together beginning in 1967 and we both thought Barnabas Collins was the coolest thing to come along. I was hooked by his character (Jonathan Frid once said of his role, “I don’t play a vampire, I play a man with a secret) and have enjoyed reading and watching movies about vampires ever since.
When it came time to write my story I wanted a setting in the Low Country of South Carolina with a lot of history surrounding it. Charleston is such an old and romantic city with many supernatural stories attached to it. It seemed only natural to pair Charleston with vampires and the two seemed to mesh perfectly together. I began to think more about how the two could play into each other, came up with an initial idea, built on it from there, and so Whitehall Manor was born.

You mentioned your very first childhood sweetheart, would you mind telling us about her.
I would love to tell you about her! Her name was Robin Waters, and as I’ve said she introduced me to ‘Dark Shadows’. Robin and I met when her family moved into the house next door to us in 1965 and we quickly grew into best friends. We played together, grew closer, and like all children, we had hopes for the future. In 1971, at the age of 13, she was diagnosed with what was at that time an inoperable brain tumor … and on June 3, 1972, at the age of 14, she quietly slipped into the arms of God, taking all our hopes, dreams, and plans with her … may you rest in peace dear sweet Robin - until we are once again reunited.

What do you think causes people’s enduring fascination with vampires?

There are so many fascinating aspects to the vampire that would be attractive to people. By nature the vampire is and always had been extremely sensual … there is also the eternal life and never growing old part of them … and of course their dark side is especially alluring to our own human natures. Perhaps their most appealing aspect though is their ability to have anybody or do anything, without the possibility of either rejection or punishment for their actions. I believe that each of us has our own special and deeply personal reason for being drawn to vampires.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about being a writer?

“Is that possible, does it make sense and will it be believable?” Since I am asking my reader to suspend what they know to be reality for an ‘alternate plausible reality’, that question is often the foremost in my mind when I write. I find myself asking that and then attempting to find a workable solution around any obstacles. As long as my reader says to themselves, ‘That’s possible, I believe that could happen’ then they will remain engaged with me. But, once I take them beyond the pale to the point that they say ‘That’s not even possible, I don’t believe that could ever happen’, then I’ve lost them as a reader and they will look for something else that they can believe.
Vampires by their very nature are and always have been erotic, so another big challenge is just where to draw the line with the sex scenes so that they are sensual but not pornographic. Beginning in 1897 with Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, vampires became extremely sensual. If one understands Victorian English and its nuances, they would find Dracula to be very erotic for the times it was written. Then with the development of the genre in recent years, Vampires are even more erotic now. I think the most difficult part of writing a paranormal romance is that you are beginning with a sensual character, the vampire. It can become quite challenging when you combine that with a romance, and attempt to prevent the story from becoming overly erotic and even downright pornographic.
All of the books in the Master series have some steamy scenes in them. The thought provoking part of those is fitting them in the story so that they are a part of and flow with the story and are not just tossed in as a “sex for sex sake” filler scene. Writing the various love scenes can be difficult because you have to consider each character and their personality. There are some things that one character will do that another would not. I want to always keep it fresh and not ‘cut and paste’ old ideas from one scene to another.
Finally the most problematic part of writing, after all the editing, reading and re-reading the manuscript is to know when to tell yourself, “That’s enough, it’s finished, edited and as complete as possible. Send it to the printer!”

What was the most challenging part of writing a female protagonist?

I think the most challenging part of writing through a woman’s eyes is having to stop and think about what, how, and where she would say something. Sometimes just getting Katelyn and Lexi’s perspective correct, not only as a woman, but as a young woman with limited life experiences, was extremely thought provoking. Charlotte Ann, on the other hand, a woman with nearly four hundred years of life was a little easier because she has grown into herself and become comfortable with whatever she needs to be or do to survive. There were plenty of times when I had to stop, think, and ask myself would/should she really do this or say that? Fortunately, I have a lot of female friends of all ages that I was able to call on for advice and answers.

How do you pick names for your characters when you are writing?

I try to use names that fit the time period of when the actual character was born. For instance, James, who was born in 1725, was a fairly common name during that time period being the name of several British Kings. Katelyn and Lexi are more modern names and plausible for young college aged girls born in the early 1990’s. The best way to name a character is once you identify the current age of the character, subtract that age from the current year to determine when they would have been born. Then do a search for popular baby names around that time and choose one you like.

Who is your favorite character and how would you spend a day together?

I feel like I know all of my characters and love all of them, so it’s difficult to choose just one. But if I had to, I think I would like to spend a day with either Charlotte Ann or Gale. I am a historian by trade so with Charlotte Ann being over four hundred years old, and Gale around sixteen hundred years old, both of them would have to hold a wealth of information. Although both were born and grew up hundreds of years ago, they seem to be perfectly comfortable in wherever era they find themselves. Both of them have come to understand that they cannot remain the same and so have managed to grow, change with and adapt their lives to the times. Besides, both of them are pretty hot, too … although I might be a little skeptical should either invite me to dinner!

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I have two favorites, Anne Rice and Clive Cussler. Both of them have a way of bringing their characters to life so that you feel as if they are not just characters in a story but personal friends and a part of your life.
I love Cussler’s storytelling ability. He has a way of spinning a story that will draw you in from the very first page. He will take you deep into the lives of his characters and their adventures making them become a part of your life.
Anne Rice tells a sweeping saga while paying great attention to detail. She has a special way of getting into her character’s lives and surroundings. She brings them to life with such sharp detail that you can often feel like you are in the room with them.
I think that if you have read either of those you will see their influence in my writing. I have tried to emulate both of these great writers in bringing the characters of Whitehall Manor to life for my readers. I want all of the characters of the Whitehall family to become a part of your life and numbered among your friends. The greatest reward for me would be for someone to tell me that they laughed, loved and cried with each of the characters as they told their stories.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The best advice I can give comes from Anne Rice, the Grand Dame of the vampire genre:

“If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less. Ignore critics. Critics are a dime a dozen. Anybody can be a critic. Writers are priceless.”

I would also add to that not be a hurry to get your book out there – there will be plenty of time to see your name on the cover of a book (probably one of the best feelings in the world) but take your time and make sure that your book is right … because once it’s out there, it’s out there forever, complete with all the bumps and boo-boo’s.

Who do you think should read your books?

Everybody! But, seriously, The Epic Saga of The Master of Whitehall is meant for anyone who enjoys a good romance story. Although the books are Paranormal Romance, neither is overly dark. My intention has been to open a window into the lives of two everyday girls whose lives are tremendously affected by their introduction to James. My desire was to make a way for the reader to follow them as their lives blend together eventually becoming one family. Of course they are all faced with obstacles to overcome as they face new lives and new worlds to make that transition a reality.

What is one of the biggest misconceptions that you think people have about authors in general?

Sometimes I think the public in general thinks being an author is a life of ease … all we do is live in a fantasy world and write our stories. They have no idea how much blood, sweat and tears, goes into developing and growing a character and their story. They’ve never been woken up at two in the morning by a character that suddenly decides to share a major part of their story, then have to get out of bed and get a draft of it down on paper. After that you’re awake for the remainder of the night!

If money was no object and you could travel to any place in the world for your dream vacation where would you go and what would you do?

I have traveled around the world four times, visited eighteen different countries and many other places besides so I am content being right here at home. But for just a few days away, there’s no place like Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana. The first is the setting for my books and the second is the traditional ‘Land of Voodoo and Vampires’ … and both have the best seafood and entertainment ever!

If vampires were to really exist and you had the option to become immortal would you do so yes or no and why?
Can I answer ‘Maybe’ – although I lean toward the yes side of that question but only if no one else knew that I was an immortal. I would enjoy watching the advancements of mankind and see where they would take them and what they would do with them. Imagine having been around and watched such advancements in transportation as the invention of the railroad, the airplane, the car, or the spaceship. I think perhaps it would be difficult for the first couple of centuries because we are all men and women of our time, making the most difficult part of immortality being able to adapt to the times in which I lived.

Mr. Fiance by Lauren Landish

Title: Mr Fiancé
Author: Lauren Landish 
Genre: Romance 

It’s fake, but it feels so good.

Oliver Steele is supposed to be my knight in shining armor. He’s tall, handsome, and as cocky as he is rich. With his good looks and charm, no one’s going to suspect a thing. No one’s going to believe our engagement is fake. 

But he’s taking this thing way too far. The way he wraps his arm around me like I'm his. The way he kisses me and presses his hard body up against mine. I almost believe that it's real. Almost.

He's doing it on purpose now; he loves that this is getting to me. 

Two can play his game, though. I won’t let him win. By the time our week together is done, I’ll leave Oliver on his knees and begging.

But the minute we’re alone in the bedroom, I know I’m in over way my head. When he undresses me with his eyes, I realize I lost before the game even started. It’s only a matter of time before I lose myself in his touch and let him do whatever he wants to me.

I know what I want, but I can’t tell what’s real anymore.

Mr. Fiance is a full-length Romance with an HEA, no cheating, and no cliffhanger!

I turn around to see him beginning to unbutton his shirt. 

“What are you doing?” I ask, my voice unsteady. “You can’t be serious!” 

He gives me a look before pausing. He’s got his shirt half opened, revealing a set of perfectly sculpted abs and tanned skin beneath.  

“I’m unbuttoning my shirt. What’s it look like?” Oliver asks. “You know, I can’t exactly go to bed in a sports coat and khakis.” 

My mind is flooded with thoughts of all the dirty, sexy things that could happen if I let them. I’d normally be down for a night of fun with a man like him, but I just can’t get over his cockiness. My pride’s getting in the way of a good fuck. But lying in a bed with him, only a few inches and some cloth between us? Asshole or not, his body is irresistible. 

I grab myself by the arms, squeezing, trying to ward away the desire flowing through my body as the image of his lips burning into mine flashes in my mind. My pussy clenches as I remember the kiss that seemed to promise paradise.  

I’m not caving on the first night. No fucking way. 

I set my face like a stone as I stab a finger at the floor. “I think you should sleep on the floor for tonight. I’m not sharing a bed with you.” 

Oliver looks at me like I’m crazy before letting out a chuckle. “Like hell. I’m a man, not a dog. If you want to sleep on the floor, be my guest.”  

He pulls his shirt all the way off, tossing it to the side. In an instant, I have a full view of him. Every muscle on his torso is defined and flows like a piece of artwork from one to the next, and all of them are saying fuck me, Mindy.  

My knees give a wobble as they become weak. Sweet baby Jesus. He is on fire.  

I place my hands on my hips, trying to be strong. “Yeah, that’s exactly why I want you to sleep there. You are a dog, and I don’t fucking trust you.” 

On one hand, I’m pissed that I can’t let my pride go. I want to get in that bed and lick him from head to toe, but beyond him being an ass today, I’m scared. I’m scared what would happen if I slept with him. And it’s totally not me. I’m on guard because he’s different. He feels… I can’t decide if the right word is dangerous… or special. 

And he’s not really my fiancĂ©, I remind myself. It’s pretend. 

“When are you going to learn, Princess?” he says, walking over and placing his hands on my waist. “I don’t follow your orders.” He leans into me just a little, invading my space, and whispers in my ear, “And I think you like it.” I can hear the smirk in his voice. 

Lauren Landish is a WALL STREET JOURNAL & USA TODAY bestselling author and her books have garnered a legion of praise from her readers.

When she’s not plotting about how she will introduce you to your next sexy as hell book boyfriend, you can find her deep, deep in her writing cave, furiously tapping away on her keyboard, writing scenes that would make even a hardened sailor blush.

Lauren, who lives in NC with her boyfriend and fur baby, warmly invites you to her worlds of rock hard abs, chiseled smiles, and men with deep, fat pockets…but beware! These stories are guaranteed to have you addicted and needing your next fix!

Raffles to Rattles by Stacy Eaton

The Celebration Township, book 8
by Stacy Eaton

If you enjoyed The Hand Maid's Tale...

Might I suggest you take a look at Women's Work by Kari Aguila.  The setting is the future, and focused on women and how the world will work.  Can women running the world make it better or will they fall to the same follies as the men before them??  Only time will tell.


"So when most of the men were dead, women saw their chance to take over?" Kate searches her son's eyes as he asks this. "Not take over," she says. "Fix things." It wasn't hard to justify what the women had done since the end of the Last War. They rebuilt their bombed-out neighborhoods as best they could and tried to establish peace and gender equality. But small groups of men roam the country, viciously indicating that the pendulum may have swung too far. When a bedraggled man shows up on Kate's doorstep one night, will she risk everything to help him? Does he deserve her help?

Women's Work is set in a dystopic world in the Pacific Northwest, where women struggle to survive through sustenance farming, clever engineering, and a deeply rooted sisterhood. Kate and her family are led through a journey from anger and fear to forgiveness and hope. It is a compelling story that challenges all of us to question traditional gender roles and to confront the fragility of love.

Kari Aguila

Would anything change if women ruled the world?

It wasn’t hard to justify what the women had done since the end of the Last War. They rebuilt their bombed-out neighborhoods as best they could and worked to established peace and equality. But small groups of men roam the country, viciously indicating that the pendulum may have swung too far. When a man shows up on Kate’s porch one night, gaunt and filthy, will she risk everything to save him? Does he deserve her help?

Women's Work is a dystopian look at feminism, where women struggle for survival through sustenance farming, clever engineering, and a deeply rooted sisterhood. This compelling story is highly relevant to modern gender issues, and reminds us of the dangers of separating any group of people from society. It’s a subtle yet suspenseful love story that will leave you breathless! 

Besides the pulse-quickening romance between Kate and Michael, readers and reviewers will be thrilled to discuss the underlying theme that it is easy to turn one group against another and make them into "the others", all the while espousing the ideas of fairness and compassion. Follow Kate and Michael on their morally complex journey in this thriller that is sure to spark conversations among families, friends and book clubs!

5 Stars!  "Women's Work is empowering and exhilarating. Aguila is a pioneer for crafting such an overdue and particularly necessary contribution for readers everywhere."
-The San Francisco Book Review

5 Stars!  Winner of the IndieReader Discovery Award “If the purpose of WOMEN'S WORK is to make a reader think, Aguila has achieved this."
- Indie Reader

“Aguila didn't even miss a beat. "Women's Work" is almost immediately engaging…”
- The Baton Rouge Advocate

"...Beautiful and terrifying all at once... Starts methodically and the tension builds with each page, with characters and a story that lingers. At times it's impossible to put the book down."
-The S-P Review


Michael sits on the stool, his feet resting lightly on the floor. Kate steps behind him and shakes the sheet open. She wraps it around his neck, clipping it behind him to keep hair from falling on his clothes, and lifts the comb and scissors off the counter behind her. She pauses, studying the back of his head, trying to focus on the job at hand. His hair falls just above his shoulders, tangled and uneven, and she pauses before she begins.
“How short do you want it?” she asks.
“Not too short,” he replies. “Whatever you think is best. Anything would be an improvement.”
They both smile, and Michael gives a small nervous laugh that is cut short when Kate runs her right hand along the side of his head, her fingertips brushing the top of his ear as she combs through his damp hair with her fingers. She slowly lifts her hand to the top of his head and drags her fingers over his scalp from the top of his forehead all the way to the base of his neck.
Michael closes his eyes as Kate touches him, and the muscles in his neck begin to release. She can feel the warmth of his body in front of her, and has to struggle against the urge to lean into him.
Kate pulls the comb through his hair and pinches a section between two of her fingers as she makes the first snip. When she has worked her way around the right side of his head, she steps behind him and starts again at the back. She works slowly, trying to savor the closeness, this justifiable reason to be touching him. Long locks of soft brown waves drop down to the floor below.
She moves her body to his left side as she cuts, her arms raised to hold the tools. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Michael watching the deep rise and fall of her chest as she breathes. When her hip gently brushes against the side of his thigh, his eyes shut again. She stops fighting the feeling growing inside, and allows it to swell and rise.
Kate lowers the scissors and steps to the front of him. She can feel him watching her, and forces herself to look only at his hair. His legs are spread slightly apart as he sits on the stool, and she slides her body between his knees as she lifts the scissors to his head again. She can feel the inside of his knees slightly squeeze around her and, in the silence of the room, she hears the change in his breath, each inhale and exhale deeper now than before. With her this close, he has nowhere to look but her chest.
His eyes are at the perfect level to trace the curve of her breasts under her thin shirt. Embarrassed, he drops his chin to his chest. His hands lie heavy on top of his thighs, below the bottom of the sheet encircling him. Kate watches as his fingers lift ever so slightly in her direction, so close to touching her hips. The sheet draped around him has tented between his legs, and the sight of it forces her to pause. She closes her eyes for a few seconds in an effort to keep control.
“Keep your head up, please,” she whispers, and he complies, slowly raising his chin back to chest level.
A few minutes more, and the haircut is finished. She pulls her body out from between his legs, circles around to his back, and unclips the sheet, shaking the last of his locks to the floor. She folds the sheet loosely and sets in on the counter, then steps in front of him again.
She tilts her head from side to side as she inspects her work, and reaches up to run her fingers through the front of his hair, checking the length around the curve of his brow, over the tops of his ears. Finally, she drops her eyes to his and smiles.
He does not smile back, and his eyes burn so brightly, the blood rushes to her cheeks.


Would anything change if women ruled the world? 

Fifteen years after the Last War devastated families and infrastructure, women have taken over under the banner of peace and equality. Only too late do they realize it’s a slippery slope to oppression. 

In a devastated country, those in charge rule by fear, inequality, and oppression. Rhia, a strong and independent sea captain, just wants to keep her head down and do her job, unitl she finds herself trapped in a re-education facility designed to help people fit into the rules of the New Way Forward. The warden claims to be guiding those in her care, but Rhia quickly sees the cracks in the system. As she is faced with torture and brainwashing, those cracks become gaping holes that threaten to pull her down into the depths of despair. Can Rhia resist the slow subversion of re-education and become the reluctant hero the new world needs?

RUN Ragged is the thrilling second story by the award-winning author of Women’s Work. This brilliantly imagined novel is both a scathing satire and a profoundly poignant look at the price we are willing to pay for peace and what we are willing to ignore to keep our conscience clear.


Kari Aguila

Kari Aguila was the recipient of an IndieReader Discovery Award for her first novel, Women’s Work, and it’s follow-up story, RUN Ragged was listed as one of the Best Indie Books of 2016 by the Huffington Post. Her stories are gripping and thought-provoking looks at gender stereotypes and relationships set in a dystopic future. She is also an avid gardener, geologist, outdoor enthusiast and mother of three. Aguila lives with her family in Seattle, and is available to Skype with Book Clubs around the world.