Friday, May 7, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author Nadia L. Braeckel!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Nadia Braeckel. Nadia writes spicy contemporary romance and romantic suspense. The daughter of a Lebanese father and German-American mother, Nadia believes she sees the world through a unique lens. Her debut novel, "Torn Ties," is based on her own experiences with love and romance, and is based in her hometown of Tulsa, OK.  She currently lives in Tulsa with her husband and son.

Author Nadia L. Braeckel

S:  Welcome to The Loft, Nadia!

Why did you become a writer?

N:  I became a writer because after writing my first book, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else with my life and time.

S:  For most authors, the urge to write is unrelenting. The thrill of holding your book in your hands is almost addictive.

Do you write in other genres?

N:  Yes, I write romance mixed with a little suspense or mystery, because writing just romance over and over can feel a bit monotonous without a little thrill to back it up.

S:  What is your favorite thing about writing romance?

N:  The steamy sex scenes.

S:  Not many authors would admit that!

Do you believe in love at first sight?

N:  Yes, but I feel like it should be called attraction at first sight, because you can’t love someone you don’t know.

S:  There are so many facets of love, so many layers. Sometimes, it's difficult to distinguish between love and lust, or love and attraction. For me, instant attraction has led to love, but I have to agree with you, you can't love someone you don't know.

What inspires your books?

N:  Everyday life scenarios turned into twisted stories

S:  What’s the best advice you have ever given?

N:  No matter what happens, just know the only person or thing you can control is yourself. Even if you marry, you can’t control anyone, and if you want to control someone, then you don’t truly love them.

S:  Good advice!

What inspired "Torn Ties?"

N:  I wrote this book when I had no voice. It is a fiction novel based on true events that happened to me.

S:  Is there anything special that you would like readers to know about "Torn Ties?"

N:  It’s based on the story of how I met my husband, but it's fiction. My hope is that this is a novel that people will be able to relate to it on some level.

Here's the blurb--

How can a relationship that starts for all the wrong reasons feel so right? That’s the question Natalya Zaher keeps asking herself. After all, her daily routine isn’t usually so dramatic…or so damn hot. By day, she works at a local men’s clinic, fending off advances from dirty old men and dealing with her boss’s angry tirades. By night, she sits at home, watching Twilight. Life has been remarkably routine—and lonely—until a chance encounter with a handsome man at the gym turns unexpectedly steamy. The only hang up? He’s already in a relationship. And Natalya wants more…much more. Alex Bowman isn’t sure what he wants. His long-term relationship has been slowly losing its luster. The sex is dull, and he’s growing frustrated with feeling controlled and demeaned. So when he meets the alluring, radiant young Natalya at the gym, he’s intrigued by her charm and upbeat nature. And when he discovers her sexually adventurous nature, he can’t stop thinking about her…and just how right their relationship seems to be. But Alex’s girlfriend doesn’t intend to let her man go without a fight, and she’s certainly not going to play fair. Even worse, Alex has been keeping secrets that threaten not just to destroy two reputations…but threaten to break Natalya’s heart too. Set in the heart of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Torn Ties is a roller-coaster ride of danger and desire that leaves the reader breathless to the last steamy page.

S:  Wow. That certainly sounds steamy! Where can readers buy your book?

N:  It's available from all major booksellers, including--

Bush Publishing:  https://bushpublishing.com/torn-ties/  

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Torn-Ties-Nadia-L-Braeckel-ebook/dp/B08X1V7T6R

Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/torn-ties-nadia-l-braeckel/1138863838?ean=9781637520468

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/torn-ties

S: Nadia, thanks so much for joining me today, and good luck with your first book! If you would like to learn more about Nadia, please visit--

Author Page:  https://bushpublishing.com/torn-ties/  

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authornlb

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authornadialb/ 

Friday, April 30, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author Ruth A. Casie!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Ruth A. Casie. A USA Today best-selling author, Ruth writes historical romance. Prior to retirement, Ruth was a speech therapist, client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and a product/marketing manager for an international bank. After retirement, she began writing. She is the author of several series, including The Druid Knight (historical time travel), The Stelton Legacy (historical fantasy), and Havenport Romances (small-town romance). When not writing, Ruth enjoys counted cross stitch, ballroom dancing, reading, and Sudoko. Ruth and her husband live in Northern New Jersey. 

Author Ruth A. Casie

S:  Good morning, Ruth. Thanks for joining me in The Loft!

Why did you become a writer?

R:  Before I retired, I was an international product manager for a large U.S. bank. I usually traveled alone. To fill my time on the long flights or to keep me company at dinner for one, I read historical romance books. Many times, I found stories that were centered on the cities I was visiting. Fast forward to 2009. A good friend told me she was going to write a romance novel and I volunteered to brainstorm, beta read, do anything to help her. Once we started, I realized I had my own story to write. We decided we would each write our books and try to sell them together. Because she had several other priorities, she put her writing on hold. I continued to write and in four months, I had 104,000 words and my first book completed.

S:  Wow, that's pretty impressive!

What attracts you to the romance genre?

R:  When I traveled, I would stuff my suitcase with six to eight romance novels. They were quick reads. I enjoyed the historic aspect. I was hooked on historic romance by the end of my first trip.


S:  Do you write in other genres? 

R:  I write in two genres. I write historical romance. In order to write with my critique partners, I also cultivated my voice for contemporary romantic suspense. We decided to write anthologies in one genre, and since I was the only one writing historicals, I opted to write contemporary stories with them. These stories are now sold separately and some of my favorite. There are challenges writing both, such as research, world-building, and speech patterns. Historical stories, even fantasies like the stories I write, require a healthy amount of research into time periods, belief systems, the food eaten, and clothes worn. I want my stories to sound realistic and to do that I must include as much realism as possible.

S:  Attention to detail is so important to historical romance. It's hard to read a book where the author hasn't done the research. It really detracts from the story.

What attracted you to your current partner?

R:  I was a single mom with two young daughters. I had no idea how to socialize other than with other moms, usually in play groups. I joined a singles group that played softball. I’m not an athlete, so I volunteered to handle the BBQ. As the season changed, a small group in my age range broke off. They asked if I would host parties at their houses. At the time, our local paper had a singles page. I advertised the parties and if you wanted to come, you had to call for reservations. A gentleman called to make a reservation for the Super Bowl Party. He came to the party and called me the following day. He thanked me for the dinner and asked that I put him on the list for the next party. Then he invited me to the Philharmonic. During a light supper, I took out index cards of women his age and went through them to see who he was interested in. He humored me. We spoke during the week and went out the following Saturday. I took out another bunch of index cards. He showed no interest in any of them. I was quickly running out of people to introduce him to. At our third meeting, I took out the cards, looked at him, then put them away. He took my hand across the table. “I’ve been waiting three weeks for you to realize it is you I want to be with.” It is 37 years later. He is called Daddy by my girls and our son, and Pop Pop by our grandchildren. He is my hero in so many ways.

S:  What a wonderful love story!

What would you like to people know about you?

R:  I am passionate about my family. Nothing is more important to me. I bring that passion into my writing.


S:  What is the best or worst thing that has ever happened to you as a writer?

R:  This is a hard question. There are so many wonderful things. Fangirl moments with Diana Gabaldon, Eloisa James, Nora Roberts. The first time a person recognized me and showed me my book on her Kindle. A call that my story made the USA Today bestselling list.

S:  Do you read reviews? 

R:  My first book, "Knight of Runes," was published in 2011. I was so eager to see how it was accepted. I read every review. People liked my story. Then one review that was posted tore me apart. Yes, the book was mentioned, but it was a character assassination of me. I got over it, eventually. In 2017, I was writing a contemporary story, "Happily Ever After" for an anthology with my critique partners. I decided it would be about an author who falls off "the lists" after getting a scathing review. I used pieces of that first review in my book.

S:  I think many of us have had similar experiences with reviews. It's amazing that we remember the bad reviews rather than the good. I need to remind myself that my books are not for everyone and there will be detractors.

If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose to write books?

R:  Yes, but I wouldn’t have waited so long. I loved my job at the bank and spent over 25 years there. However, the creativity and camaraderie I have found in the writing community has been wonderful, and I find out more about myself as I write. 

S:  How do you get in the mood for writing? 

R:  Music instead of chocolate. I have writing playlists on Spotify that I call up. Some are cinematic and others are more lyrical. I also have one that is aggressive, action motivating. I put the phone in my office on mute. I put on the music and write.


S:  Muting that phone is important.

Have you ever “shelved” a book?

R:  Yes. I shelved a book I called "Einstein’s Theorem." I’ve spoken to several publishers and agents. They love the concept, but they have no idea how to sell it. So it will be a series that I will indie publish. The series traces the lives of Dr. Lori Holt, particle physicist turned art detective and Jayson Stone, a top cybersecurity officer, as they use an unknown theorem Lori found in a journal penned by Albert Einstein to time travel and investigate the truth behind the art and artifacts they’re hired to authenticate. The overarching plot of the series focuses on the romance between Lori and Jayson and their ongoing quest to rebuild their relationship while they develop their cutting-edge business, Empyrean Enterprises—Provenance Guaranteed.

S:  That sounds like a fascinating tale! 

Ruth, thanks so much for joining me today. If you would like to learn more about Ruth and her books, please visit--

Website:  https://ruthacasie.com/

Personal Blog:  http://www.ruthacasie.blogspot.com

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/ruthacasie/

Facebook private reader’s page, Casie CafĂ©: https://www.facebook.com/groups/963711677128537/

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/RuthACasie/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RuthACasie

Amazon Author Page:  https://amazon.com/author/ruthacasie

Newsletter Signup: 

http://ruthacasie.com/contact.html#newsletter

http://bit.ly/RuthsNewsletterSignUp


Friday, April 23, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author Nola Li Barr!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Nola Li Barr. Nola has worked as an engineer testing space equipment and growing LEDs and microchips, as well as an event planner, but her love has always been books. Now, she writes Women's Fiction with clean interracial romance. When she’s not writing, Nola can be found reading, making photo books, and navigating the path of motherhood.

Author Nola Li Barr

S:  Good morning, Nola. Welcome to The Loft!

Let's start at the beginning. You first had a career as an engineer. Why become a writer?

N:  Like many authors, I love books and creating stories. I’ve got notes galore in notebooks, on scrap paper, and on my computer. But nothing ever got more than a page of writing before I stopped. During maternity leave, I started listening to webinars and came across self-publishing. I got really excited that now I was at home I might have the chance to write a book. Of course, with a baby, it was a slow process, but I found other authors online and realized that many have made it work. Now I write because it’s the most amazing feeling to see my story on paper, to be able to share them with the world, to be able to work from home and have a flexible schedule for my kids, and to see the finished product on my bookshelf.

S:  What attracts you to the romance genre?

N:  I love reading about couples falling in love and getting that tingling sensation. I love exploring how people interact with each other. I read stories to get away from the real world and the romance genre does that so well.

S:  I think many of us write for that reason. We offer an escape from the real world.

Do you write in other genres? 

N:  Not yet, but I want to. I have story ideas in paranormal, time-travel, and fantasy. Time will tell if I venture into those, but I have a feeling there will always be a little romance in them.


S:  Personally, I have a difficult time keeping romance out of my books. I want my characters to be happy and fulfilled, and sometimes, that requires a little romance.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Has it ever happened to you?

N:  I do! My husband and I fell in love aboard an international flight. We were both on a flight from Taipei to the U.S. and ended up sitting next to each other. Before take-off, we both pulled out our Kindles but ended up talking for the entire 12 hours. We exchanged contact info and flew back to our respective cities, only to start e-mailing the next day and every day after.

S:  Chance meetings, lasting love. I love when that happens.

What attracted you to your current partner?

N:  He's tall, dark, and handsome. We just had great conversations about many different subject matters, he loves his family, and he loves to read.



S:  If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose to write books?

N:  Yes, absolutely. It is the best career I have ever had. I wish I had started it sooner, but my focus was always on becoming an engineer. I thought that’s what I wanted to do, but when I discovered I could actually publish my own books it was like a dream come true.

S:  What’s the best advice you have ever been given?

N:  You can’t accomplish a dream if you don’t have one to start with.

S:  Great advice!

Complete this sentence: “When one of my books is released, I….”

N:  ...celebrate by eating ice cream. Really, any kind, but if I can, I’ll get mocha almond fudge.


S:  What inspired "Forbidden Blossom?"

N:  A dream and the realization that I did not know my own American-Chinese heritage. I started reading up on the history of American Chinese a few years back and realized I wanted to write stories with American Chinese characters. Mix that in with the romance books I like to read and that sparked "Forbidden Blossom."

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "Forbidden Blossom?"

N:  It’s the very first book I’ve ever published and centers around two main characters. One is a Chinese-American girl in 2010 and the other, a seventeen-year-old Taiwanese girl who immigrates to the U.S. in 1946. They both fall in love with Caucasian men, and it was interesting to figure out what love would have been like for them during their eras. Incidentally, the next two books in the Skyline Mansion series will be released in mid-July and mid-August.

S:  Nola, thanks so much for joining me today. If you'd like to learn more about Nola Li Barr, please visit--

Website: https://www.nolalibarr.com

Facebook:  https://facebook.com/nolalibarr

Instagram:  https://instagram.com/nolalibarr

Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/nolalibarr

Amazon Author Page:  https://amazon.com/author/nolalibarr

Friday, April 16, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author Bernadette Jones!

Joining me today in The Loft is romantic suspense author Bernadette Jones. Bernadette has imagined casts of characters in every state she's called home, including Texas, Oregon, Washington, South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, and New York. Her travels have led to an appreciation of a wide variety of book genres and music. After a career in corporate writing, Bernadette decided to settle down and write books. She now lives in New York City with her canine companion.

Author Bernadette Jones

S:  Good morning, Bernadette! I'm glad you could join me today.

What attracts you to the romance genre?

B:  Romance is for women, written about women, and mostly by women. This genre allows us to touch on topics that are important to all of us. With these books, we can subtly share good and bad experiences, and teach our sisters how to survive and flourish while giving them an avenue to escape. I have learned about self-defense for women and where to find training, the character traits of a narcissist, and even banking tips. Romance is women teaching other women.

S:  Do you write in other genres?

B:  I really want to write paranormal romance. I have five or six ideas on my shelf but haven't jumped in yet. I’m currently committed to four more books in the Aspen Gold series and I have a four-book series for my own release, which is scheduled to start at the end of this year. Maybe next year I will take the plunge. At a friend's insistence, I also have dipped my toes into the short erotica.

S:  I just released my first book in the paranormal romance genre. It's a different worldview and mindset. However, it was the most fun I've had writing a book because anything goes.

What inspires your stories?

B:  Every book I have ever written has come to me as if a movie reel randomly starts playing a scene in my head. Then my job begins. Who? What? Where? When? Why? I’ll give you an example. One night, I woke up and a scene began to play in my head of a tall dark-haired man dressed in grey sweatpants standing on a muddy shoreline looking down at the naked body of a young, strawberry blonde woman. I could tell he knew her by the anguish in his eyes. This was the birth of "Sleepin’ Alone." Another time I was sitting with my dog at the park and enjoying the sun. An image of an isolated track on the highway during a raging rainstorm came to me. A young boy was trudging through the downpour when a large truck came around a bend and exposed him in the headlights. "Lonely Eyes" was conceived. I have no explanation for why this happens, I have learned to go with the flow, and to keep a pad and paper or recording device close at hand.

S:  Recording those ideas is so important. Sometimes, they come at you so fast, it's hard to remember them all.

Have you ever shelved a book?

B:  Yes, two. One, because I didn’t feel I was ready to write the story. I needed to mature in the craft before I could give it justice. It’s about a simple woman who inspires the love of three men and her unfaithful husband. The second is about revenge. I started this one when the market did not embrace dark stories with abuse. Both of these stories have been telling me now is the time. Maybe soon.

S:  What is the best advice you have ever been given?

B:  Write with your heart and put everything in it. Then go back and clean it up.

S:  Good advice. It all begins with what's in your heart.

What inspired "Lonely Eyes?"

B:  You constantly read stories about people finding a long-lost family. The initial cause of losing contact is sometimes due to separation or relocation during war times or exile. Most, however, don’t ever get to reconnect. The pain of losing someone you love happened in my family and I understood the grief of never knowing. 

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about this book?

B:  It's Book 12 in the Aspen Gold Series, a unique continuity series where the town and its founder are the thread tying all stories together. Each author writes within their own style, and the books range from sweet to steamy. My books are all standalone, with characters that have met in other books, making guest appearances or perhaps, taking the limelight. 

Here's the blurb for "Lonely Eyes"--

There is an art to pursuit. 

Keira is running out of time. The handsome stranger with the dragon tattoo says he can keep her safe, but he doesn’t know the demon on her trail… Will her mysterious past lead her to escape or drag her back to living hell?

Owen Strong has suffered tragedy, but he’s made a new family in Spencer, Colorado—one he will protect at all costs.  When he finds determined Keira HoaThi, she rouses more than just trouble. Looking into her lonely eyes, he sees that everyone’s in danger. 

But she’s come to the right place. He’s the monster hunter. 

S:  That gave me shivers! Where can readers buy "Lonely Eyes?"

B:  It's available at all major booksellers, including--

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JJL2BSR/ 

Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lonely-eyes-bernadette-jones/1137714832

Apple:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1532665553

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/lonely-eyes

Books2Read:  https://books2read.com/u/mdlyrZ

S:  Bernadette, thanks so much for joining me today. If you would like to learn more about Bernadette and her books, please visit

Website:  https://www.bernadettejones.com/

Newsletter:  http://www.bernadettejones.com/newsletters

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/BernadetteJonesAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RomanceBJones

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/bernadettejonesauthor/

Friday, April 9, 2021

It's release day!

 


She's smart, she's sexy, she's tough as nails! She's MI6 agent Tillie Spencer, tasked with locating errant relatives of the Queen. And her partner, well, he's one hot Arab prince who tries to control Tillie's impulsiveness while he woos her. He wants babies and the white picket fence. She wants nothing to do with nappies. All she wants to do is serve the Queen!

Their adventures will never hit the press--the Monarchy will make sure of that--but royals gone rogue keep them busy. Very busy!


Thursday, April 8, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author Cadence Vonn!

Joining me today in The Loft is award-winning romance author Cadence Vonn. Cadence writes the erotic stories that dance in her head. The result is tales of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Since moving to a rugged island in the Pacific Northwest, Cadence has been inspired by the dark brooding winter days, which led her to write her most recent dark romance series, Choice & Consequence. Cadence and her husband share a view of Puget Sound outside their front door.

S:  Good morning, Cadence. Welcome to The Loft!

How do you get in the mood for writing?

C:  I’m not a plotter in the sense that I outline everything first, and then sit down at a particular time of day and write. When ideas rumble around in my head or I wake up in the middle of the night with a solution to a scene problem, I head to my laptop and write them down. Also, with every story, I’ll create a music playlist that’s usually about one and a half hours long. When I sit down to write, I wear my noise-canceling headphones, turn on the music and tune out everything around me. At the end of the playlist, I know it’s time to get up, stretch, and make another cup of tea. Then it’s back to my office for another round of writing and music.

S:  (Chuckles.) I have to set alarms so I get up and move while writing. Your system seems much more enjoyable!

Do you believe in love at first sight? Has it ever happened to you?

C:  I’m probably the CEO of the love-at-first-sight club! My husband and I met in high school and that was that. We’ve been together for decades. So in most of my books, all my characters know the moment they see each other that something special is about to happen. Romantic angst between them isn’t a major part of my stories. My hero and heroine get together then struggle and fight to survive the external dangers that threaten them. They do it as a team--sort of love-conquers-all scenarios.

S:  I also prefer that my couples work as a team. Romantic angst does nothing for me, especially when the reasons for it are silly.

Do you write in other genres? 

C:  I’ve tried. The first novel I wrote is a paranormal romance with dragons, but as my first attempt with writing a book, it’s now part of my collection of unedited stories that would require an army of editors to make it presentable to the world. As much as I love to read paranormal romances and fantasy novels, I realized early that I don’t have the patience to build a believable world.

S:  What would you like people to know about you?

C:  I’m a crier. I cry during sappy commercials, at happily ever after endings, and when I read about gestures of kindness. I cried as I typed a scene in my first book where the heroine’s dog died. I don’t watch movies with sad endings. I call them "message-in-a-bottle" movies, since the Nicholas Sparks’ movie by that name was the first and last one I watched with a sad ending. That’s probably why I write books with happily-ever-afters. I might kill off a villain, but the lovers will always win in the end.

S:  I don't cry often, but when I do, it tends to be... cleansing? That said, I never know what will trigger tears. It's never what I expect.

If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose to write books?

C:  That’s a tough question. I’m sure I’d still be writing. But looking back, I would’ve started earlier. Maybe even ventured into writing screenplays. I love writing dialogue so it’d be fun to create a movie or mini-series for television. Who knows, they say it’s never too late to try something different. That might be my next career.

S:  What inspired your book, "Houston?"

C:  I love suspense and wanted darker overtones to my new series, Choice & Consequence. After finishing the first book, "Harlow," I knew I had to write Houston's story. If it weren’t for him, Harlow would be dead. So he deserved his own happily-ever- after. What’s fun about the story is it incorporates all the characters from Book One, knowing that one of them will be the hero or heroine of Book Three.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "Houston?"

C:  "Houston" is my favorite book that I’ve written so far. When I started writing it, I had no idea the twists it would take. I was surprised at every turn and I hope readers have the same experience. Nothing like saying, “I didn’t see that coming,” when you get to the end of a book!

Here's the blurb--

Bodyguard Houston Templeton goes with his gut. Lucia Larrson believes in fate. Danger will test their skills—and trust—to stay alive.

It’s another dreary December day for Houston Templeton until a beautiful woman crashes into him on a busy New York City street. The kiss she steals ignites his desire for more. But the man chasing her threatens to kill them both, unless Houston intervenes. As their relationship intensifies, will it destroy his ability to keep her alive?

After surviving a sadistic Dominant, Lucia Larrson struggles to trust anyone. She panics when a stalker follows her to New York City from Chicago. Driven by fear, her chances of surviving alone are slim. Led by an inner voice, she discovers safety in the arms of a stranger. Now she’ll trust him with her life…and her heart.

If you love to read about a serial killer, a heartless Dominant, betrayal, and sex hot enough to sear your eyebrows, this book is for you.


S:  Where can readers buy "Houston?"

C:  It's available at--

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08Y3G26DQ/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/houston-cadence-vonn/1138965088?ean=2940162219965

S:  Cadence, thanks so much for joining me today! If you would like to learn more about Cadence and his books, please visit--

Website:  https://cadencevonn.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Cadencevonnauthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CadenceVonn

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/cadencevonn/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cadence-vonn

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Cadence-Vonn/e/B077H4PQYF?

Friday, April 2, 2021

Happiness is a scintillating read on a rainy day!


Blurb:

Lady Annabelle Trask is missing. Unfortunately, MISix doesn’t know if they’re looking for a woman, a cow, or something in between!

Is it real or is it fantasy? That’s the question MISix Agent Mathilda Honoria Spencer struggles with on her latest assignment. Tasked with discovering the whereabouts of Lady Annabelle Trask, Tillie is thrust into the world of Hucows and other human animals. It’s a world that raises serious questions about sexual fetishes, intentional physical enhancements, and even pornography, but in the end, Tillie has only one mission—to rescue and return Lady Annabelle to the Queen. However, as she and her partner, Agent Abdul Ali, attempt to find Lady Annabelle and keep her out of the clutches of terrorists bent on destroying the monarchy, they must also wrestle with their feelings for each other. Can they draw the line between their duty to the Crown and their relationship with one another? Or must they embark on separate paths to continue to serve the Queen?

Excerpt:

Harun stood and hugged his brother. Then he turned to Tillie. His gaze was steady, but his eyes were cold. “Forgive me if I cannot give you a similarly warm welcome, but my wife and I have not yet recovered from the brutal attack on our daughter.”

“Harun.” Marianne Benson spoke softly, but her gaze was fierce. “I believe Hope and the Agency have settled the matter. You don’t need to pursue it further.” She turned to Abdul and smiled. “I am pleased to see you, Abdul.” She cocked an eyebrow. “Though for a while there, the rumor was that you had gone rogue and were dancing with the devil.”

Abdul laughed. “I may dance with the devil occasionally, but that does not mean he owns my soul. I am still slaving away for the Queen.” He smiled at Mari. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”

“Well, it’s hard to ignore a summons from the Queen, and when your husband has a plane, it is much easier to respond quickly.” Mari motioned to the chairs at the table. “Please sit. Let’s get down to business. It was made clear that time was of the essence.”

Everyone sat, and Mari walked over to a control panel set into a console. She pushed a button, and a whiteboard lit up. “As you know, after we rescued the people off Flight Eight Seven Zero and The Mars were prosecuted, Dianna and Anders interviewed them extensively at Guantanamo Bay. We were able to collect a considerable amount of information on the organization, its members, and its financing.”

Twelve photos appeared on the screen. “These are the current members of Marwolaeth I’r Frenhines. Six are incarcerated at Guantanamo, three have been released, and three are recruits.”

Tillie leaned forward and studied the faces. It always amazed her how normal terrorists appeared. There was nothing in their faces to indicate that they were evil. Most were smiling in their photos. However, the tell was in the eyes. They were stone cold.

Mari pointed at the photos of those recently released. “These three have been fairly quiet. We could not detect any significant communication or contact between them and the new members, which makes me think this may be a new group that merely adopted the name.” She brought up a few more photos. “These gentlemen are believed to be the financiers of the new order.”

Tillie studied the group and gasped. “But that’s a former member of Parliament.”

Harun nodded. “And someone who wishes to dissolve the Monarchy. Apparently, he has put his money where his mouth is.” Another screen popped up. A bank statement.

Abdul cleared his throat. “Fifty million pounds? That’s pretty significant. Has this been verified?”

Harun gazed at Abdul. “I’m afraid so. We have transfers to the account, bank acknowledgments, and proof the newest members of The Mars have been drawing on these funds.”

Mari pulled up another screen. “Though we were a little puzzled by their purchases until now. We thought they had gone into farming.” She pointed at an invoice. “Everything you need to raise a cow, or in this case, a human cow.”

Tillie hugged herself and shuddered. “Lady Annabelle is most certainly in their sights.”

Mari gazed at her husband and nodded. Harun opened a file he had set in front of him. “Apparently, it is much worse. There were also several purchases for the care of an infant. Either Lady Annabelle is pregnant, or they intend to impregnate her.”

Abdul slammed his fist on the table. “Bloody hell. A royal baby? The Queen would move heaven and earth to protect her own blood. What a crafty way to manipulate her for their own purposes. She would be damned no matter how she responded. That could end the monarchy.”

Tillie stood. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

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