Friday, September 29, 2017

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for The Knights of Boo'Gar by Art Roche

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours, for The Knights of Boo’Gar by Art Roche.  Please leave a comment or question for Art to let him know you stopped by.  You may enter his tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  Good Luck! 

The Knights of Boo’Gar
By Art Roche

Date Published: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Andrews McMeel / AMP! Kids

Genre: Middle Grade Humor (ages 7 to 12)

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Princess Phlema’s pet goat Babycakes has been kidnapped from Castle Boo’Gar, and the ransom note demands the kingdom’s sacred Book of Loogey in exchange for the goat’s safe return. King Mewkus summons the Knights of Boo’Gar to track down the kidnappers, but the Knights have been on furlough for so long that only one person responds to the call: a 13-year-old boy named Rowland. 

Undaunted by the lack of reinforcements, Rowland agrees to take on the quest, enlisting the help of his pet turtle and his trusty steed, who happens to be an ostrich. While Rowland treks through the Dark Woods, encountering dangerous obstacles and fearsome creatures, Princess Phlema takes matters into her own hands.

The Knights of Boo’Gar is a quirky adventure set in an engaging world of heroes, nose goblins, a spunky princess, giant bats and way too many cantaloupes. Packed with full-color illustrations, this wacky chapter book emphasizes the importance of friendship, bravery and is a delightfully easy read for kids and grown-ups alike.

Excerpt from The Knights of Boo’Gar by Art Roche. Copright © 2017 by Art Roche.  Reprinted with Permission. 

In the castle courtyard, King Mewkus and Edwart had assembled the royal court to receive the Knights of Boo’Gar as they marched majestically through the gates. Brightly colored flags hung from the castle walls, and a small band of flutes and drums played the Mewkus family overture. It was a bouncy tune called “A Hasty Retreat.”

The lords and ladies of the royal court had been advised of the tragic kidnapping, so they had gathered in their most solemn attire, their puffy red faces looking damp and concerned under a hot morning sun.

The king had changed into his formal crown, and Princess Phlema stood tall in her tiara, dressed in her favorite blue velvet jumper and wearing her favorite tool belt. She was the picture of composure now, and no one would ever guess that she’d been crying earlier. Now she stood, proud and determined.

The two monks of the Green Order, Pik and Flik, lingered behind the king and princess, wearing their stiff ceremonial robes. Pik nervously fingered the cuff of his sleeve.

Edwart the wizard stood calmly, his fingertips touching as he surveyed the festive scene, nodding to the assembled nobility and trying to look extra magical.

King Mewkus looked around the courtyard. It had been years since he felt so important and in charge. Perhaps this kidnapping was just the thing he needed to get his kingdom back on track and to start ruling like a king again—more like his father.

He pictured the scene to come. Perhaps five hundred knights would ride into the courtyard and bow to him. He’d say something inspirational and the crowd would cheer. It was going to be grand.

Perhaps he would lead the knights into battle against the evil kidnappers and ride back into the castle carrying Babycakes. His daughter would be so proud of him.
“A rider approaches!” shouted a teenage girl perched high up on the castle wall.

A ripple of movement went through the crowd as they moved toward the gate to see the gleaming armor of the imposing champions riding under their colorful banners. The atmosphere was charged with excitement and everyone held their breath and waited for that moment—the moment they’d tell their grandchildren about.

Princess Phlema stood on tiptoes to see over the crowd. “Who is it? How many are there? How handsome are they on a scale from one to ten?” she bobbed her head to see. “Um, is that an ostrich?”

Sir Rowland rode alone through the gate to the triumphant blare of the royal trumpets. The Mewkus overture reached a thundering crescendo, which unfortunately spooked Rowland’s timid ostrich. Tulip jumped back, throwing Rowland into the air and landing him in a coop full of chickens.
The royal court looked on in horror as chickens flew everywhere.

Rowland’s ostrich squawked and then pooped right in the courtyard.

“I’m fine. Not a problem!” shouted Sir Rowland from beneath twenty chickens. He jumped up pulling feathers from his hair and walked over to the king. The musicians stopped playing.

“Your Majesty!” Sir Rowland squeaked.

He pulled a small, tattered card out of his pocket and read aloud so that the crowd could hear him. “I am Sir Rowland Pockmyer, son of Rufus. I have come in answer to your call. How can the Knights of Boo’Gar assist you?”

Everyone stood in stunned silence. Princess Phlema frowned and looked back at the gate. King Mewkus plucked a chicken feather out of his teeth.

The wizard Edwart spoke up first. “Uh, good Sir Knight. Shouldn’t we wait for the other knights to show up?”

Sir Rowland looked back at the gate, hopefully. “Umm, actually, I think I’m pretty much it, Your Wizardship.”

More silence. Somewhere, a chicken squawked.

“You gotta be kidding me!” cried Princess Phlema. She turned to look at her father.

“Good Sir Rowland,” asked the king. “Are there not hundreds of you under my command?”

Sir Rowland cleared his throat. “Actually—ahem—there’s a funny story behind that. See, most of them have retired. I’m the only one left,” said Rowland uncomfortably.

“What about Sir Winston?” asked Edwart.

“Oh, he started a weasel stand in Sneezix.”

“I think I remember a Sir Justin?” asked the king.

“Yes, unfortunately Justin quit to start a boy band,” said Rowland.

Princess Phlema stepped forward. “How old are you, kid?”

“I am almost fourteen, Your Ladyship.”

The royals turned to look at each other. Edwart shrugged his shoulders.

The princess crossed her arms and scowled. The king’s dreams of leading a brave army evaporated before his eyes as he looked Rowland up and down.

King Mewkus thought to himself, “Has my kingdom finally come to this? A thirteen-year-old ragamuffin is my only knight?”

The king sighed. “Well, perhaps I should bring you up to speed on the situation then,” he said with solemn emphasis. “You see, there’s been a kidnapping.”

“A what?” said Sir Rowland.

“A kidnapping,” said the king. “One of our royal goats has been taken.”

“And you think bees are responsible?”

“Bees? No, no—a person took the goat. It’s a kidnapping,” said the king with irritation. “Didn’t you hear me?”

“Oh . . . I see, well,” said Rowland slowly. “We mostly deal with bees. At least, that’s what I was trained for.”

“You mean all you do is practice battling bees all day?” asked the wizard.

Rowland continued with confidence. “Yes, it made sense since that’s what we were asked to do last time. We developed a number of very effective . . .”

“Look, this doesn’t have anything to do with bees, you silly child!” interrupted Princess Phlema.

“My goat has been taken and we need you to go get it back,” cried the princess. “And kick someone’s behind. You guys are supposed to be so terrifying and efficient.”

“Your Highness,” called Pik the monk. “This young boy can’t possibly hope to rescue a goat from dangerous captors all by himself.”

“I was actually going to say the same thing,” said Rowland. “I have no weapons. Only my bee-handling equipment,” he continued. “Perhaps I could use one of my nets to . . .”

“Will you drop the bee thing!” shouted Phlema. “There are no bees!”

The king tried to diffuse the situation. “Look, everyone calm down, OK? Can you at least look into this kidnapping for us? We’d really appreciate it.”

Suddenly, the wizard turned around and thoughtfully walked back toward the castle door. The king called out to him.

“Where are you going, Edwart?” he asked.

“I have an idea,” said Edwart. “I’ll be right back.”

The king turned back to Rowland. “We received this note. We need you to venture into the forest and track down these kidnappers. Can you at least try?” He handed the note to Rowland.

Sir Rowland looked at the note, then at Princess Phlema. Her lip trembled with emotion again. She feared she would never see her lovely Babycakes ever again. It was all too much.

Sir Rowland felt a surge of bravery. “I will do my best, Your Majesty. It will be my honor to track down these bees . . . uh . . . I mean these kidnappers.”

He paused in thought. “Are they called kidnappers because baby goats are called kids?”

The king looked at him like he was crazy. “No! They are called kidnappers because they abducted someone against their will. Look, are you sure you’re up for this?”

Some of the nobles in the crowd exchanged concerned glances.

“Ah, of course. Yes, Your Majesty. This will be a piece of cake. Yes,” stammered Rowland.

The wizard returned to the group carrying a long object covered in fine green velvet. He stopped in front of Sir Rowland and, with great ceremony, unwrapped the object.

“Good Sir Rowland,” intoned Edwart. “May I present to you your weapon. Passed down through generations of wizards. Enchanted by the elves of Highmark, and blessed by the friars of Vallejo. I present to you the Staff of Slumber.”

The crowd of lords and ladies recoiled with a gasp.

“Jiminy jaguars,” whispered Princess Phlema.

The wizard held a long, gnarled wooden shaft out to Rowland. Rowland took the staff and looked at it. The wood had a blue-green tint to it. It was carved from top to bottom with ancient symbols, and it felt very heavy and well balanced in his hands. Rowland thought he felt a tingle run through his fingers.

“This will make a fine weapon. Thank you, wizard.”

“Use it wisely, good knight,” said Edwart. “For the Staff of Slumber has great power. All who are touched by its magic will fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.”

“Cool,” said Sir Rowland. He held the staff in both hands, making swiping gestures right and left to get the feel of it.

The princess thought he looked rather knightly after all.

With this, the crowd of lords and ladies erupted in a loud cheer.

“Hooray!” said the crowd.

The band struck up the Mewkus overture again. Three maidens came out of the crowd and threw rose petals on Rowland, and the king and his court clapped enthusiastically.

“Well then,” smiled the king. “It looks like we have our champion after all. Good luck, Sir Rowland!”

Tulip was led into the center of the courtyard wearing a finely crafted new saddle. It was packed with a mountain of fresh supplies. Rowland took his new weapon and climbed up onto the saddle. He looked down at the stable boy holding the reins.

“Uh, sorry about the mess,” said Sir Rowland.

Everyone glanced down at the “deposit” that Tulip had left on the ground. The lords and ladies held lace hankies to their nose. Tulip blushed a deep red.

 The monks, Pik and Flik, approached Rowland and called up to him.

“Start your search in the Dark Woods.”

“I will do as you say,” Rowland replied. He gave the princess a self-assured look and raised one eyebrow for effect. The princess looked at him and shrugged.

With that, Sir Rowland turned Tulip around and headed out the gates of Castle Boo’Gar to the cheers of a grateful crowd. The band played joyously, and Tulip walked with extra snap in her stride as they marched off into their first great adventure.

“Yo! Sir Rowland!” cried Princess Phlema. “Bring me back my goat!”

The princess then tossed him a single white rose. It floated through the air to the brave knight, rolling against a cruel blue sky. Time seemed to slow down as Rowland reached . . . out . . . to . . . grab . . . it . . . and . . . he totally missed.

There was an audible groan of disappointment from the crowd, as the rose landed in the mud in front of the gate. Rowland chose not to see this as a bad omen and waved enthusiastically to the crowd.

King Mewkus took a step closer to his trusted wizard. “We are in deep doo-doo,” muttered the king.

About the Author

Art Roche is a cartoonist and three-time author, previously published by Sterling Publishing. He is currently the content director for the Charles M. Schulz studio in Santa Rosa, California. Before that, Art worked in video games and was a creative director at Cartoon Network.

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Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Virtual Tour for I'm With You by Allie Frost

Welcome to my stop n the Virtual Tour, presented by Reading Addiction Book Tours, for I’m With You by Allie Frost.  Please leave a comment or question for Allie to let her know you stopped by.  

I’m With You
By Allie Frost

Publisher: Dragon Tree Books
Date Published: 9/26/16 (Print) 10/18/16 (eBook)

Genre: Teen and Young Adult

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When fifteen-year-old Ciarán Morrigan eavesdrops on a conversation between his father and two mysterious strangers, his life—and the life of his little sister, Remiel—is changed forever. After their father makes a startling decision, the Morrigan siblings are forced to flee the only life they've ever known and embark on a dangerous adventure across the nation of Empirya.

With the enlisted help of a disinherited vagabond, a cynical violinist, a fire-juggler with a fierce temper, an aspiring mechanic, and a cheerful librarian, Ciarán and Remiel must fight to escape the clutches of lethal pursuers. Their journey carries them through smog-filled cities, dark forests, humble towns, and perilous mountains, but will Remiel's dark secret and ghosts from the past prevent the Morrigan children from finding a place they can truly call home?

Winner – Indie Genius Award from Dragon Tree Books

Winner – Literary Titan Book Award (Gold) June 2017


The man in the chair fidgeted. I still couldn’t see his face, but his voice was deep and rich. “You mean to tell me that your twelve-year-old daughter is responsible for the death of your wife? Forgive me, Ernest, but this sounds a little… far-fetched.”

My father ran a hand through his tangled, graying hair. “I assure you, Maverick, Dahlia…” He looked at them in turn. “This is no deception. I curse the day that child was born!”

 “Ernest,” the woman—Dahlia—said, “I know the papers didn’t go into detail about your wife’s death, but I find it hard to believe that your daughter—”

“She is at fault!” Father insisted. “My wife was not the first victim. There have been others. That demon must be stopped before she kills anyone else!”

Others. I knew what Father meant, but none of it had been Remiel’s fault.

The man in the chair chuckled. “I must say, Ernest, from what I’ve seen in pictures, the girl greatly resembles—”

“I know!” Father slammed a fist on his desk. “I know what she looks like! But she deserves this, for killing my wife! For killing her own mother!”

Anger stewed in my chest. I wanted to storm into the room and defend my little sister, but the next snippet of conversation rooted my feet to the carpet.

“And your son?” the man asked. “What has he to do with this?”

Father buried his face in his hands, and his voice was muffled by his fingers.

“I don’t want Ciarán involved.”

His words provided no consolation. If Father wished harm on Remiel, he was condemning me along with her.

“This is an unusual proposition, Ernest,” Dahlia purred, “but for the right price, I’m sure we can arrange something. I have the perfect associate in mind to give the job to. She specializes in quieter methods of her trade.” She smoothed one hand over the man’s shoulder. “Wouldn’t you agree, darling?”

The man in the chair—Maverick—drummed his fingers on the armrest. After an agonizing pause, he drew himself up to his full, towering height, and I saw a man whose image I would never forget.

“You have a deal, Ernest.”

He reached a hand toward Father, who grasped it in a desperate handshake.

“We will kill your daughter for you.” 

About the Author

Allie Frost was born in 1992 and has spent most of her life in rural Pennsylvania. She attended Western New England University and graduated in 2013 with a degree in English Literature and Film Studies. During her college years, she studied in England and began working on the story that would become her debut novel, I’m With You.

When she isn’t writing, she enjoys playing video games, reading, traveling, and going to the movies, and she only likes dark roast coffee or very sugary lattes, but nothing in between.

More information is available at

Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for Jane Austen Lied To Me by Jeanette Watts

Welcome to my stop n the Virtual Tour, presented by Goddess Fish Promotoins, for Jane Austen Lied To Me by Jeanette Watts  Please leave a comment or question for Jeanette to let her know you stopped by.  You may enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You may follow all of the stops on the tour by clicking on the banner above.  The more stops you visit, the better your odds of winning.  Good Luck!

"Why Dance and Romance Go Hand in Hand - How Dance Is the Way to a Person's Heart" by Jeanette Watts

It just so happens, I'm a dance instructor! Dance is the only thing closer to my heart than my characters. Not counting friends and family, of course. Although all my friends and family also dance. With me around, no one really gets a choice in the matter...

Never mind those awful shows on TV showing dancers being judged. They are an abomination, a blight upon the soul! No one has the right to judge another person's dance. Dance is movement for the pure joy of moving. It is the interpretation of music, translating sound into motion.

It doesn't matter whether you are grooving by yourself, or if you are in the arms of a dance partner; while you are dancing, you are in tune with the Universe, open to all the possibilities. You are more in tune with yourself, and if you are couple dancing, you are also highly sensitive to the needs of your partner. At the same time, your partner is being highly sensitive to your needs. The only other activity two people can do with this level of care for your partner is - sex. This is why some people will get way too jealous and don't want their significant other dancing with anyone else.

The problem with jealousy is, it drives people away, it doesn't bring them closer. The absolute BEST thing you can do is insist your partner dances with other people. They come back to you better dancers. You come back to them a better dancer when you dance with multiple people. That's part of why there's so much emphasis on the last dance. At the end of the dance, you get to show your significant other what you've learned, and reassure your partner that after all the other dancers you've spent time with, you are going home together.

Dance and romance are very tricky. There are men and women who take dance lessons to try and meet someone, hoping to fall in love and get in a relationship. But social dynamics are complicated. A guy going to a dance to pick up women will be perceived as creepy. A woman going to a dance dreaming of meeting the right man might be seen as desperate. At the very least, she's going to be disappointed. She's going to fall in love, alright; over and over again. But at the end of a three minute song, her Prince Charming thanks her for the dance, and goes to find Mrs. Charming for the last waltz.

I know a dance teacher who cautions men against having expectations of finding a girlfriend at a dance. He has studied this for years, and he's concluded that women go dancing because they want to dance. It's an end, not a means. It just so happens that, while on the dance floor, open to the possibilities of the Universe, people frequently do fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. 

Jane Austen Lied To Me
By Jeannette Watts

Publisher: Jeannette Watts
Release Date: September 25, 2017
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Length: 205 Pages
ISBN:  978-1974365517

Buy Links:  Amazon

About the book:

What college girl doesn’t dream of meeting Mr. Darcy? Lizzie was certainly no exception. But when Darcy Fitzwilliam comes into her life, he turns out to be every bit as aggravating as Elizabeth Bennett’s Fitzwilliam Darcy. So what’s a modern girl to do?

Jeanette Watts’ satire pokes loving fun at Jane and all of us who worship the characters who shall forever be our romantic ideals.


I’ve been thinking about my conversation with Professor Jacobson over and over.  The thing about formulas and people.  It makes a certain kind of sense, but does it lack a romantic sensibility?

Ha!  Sense and Sensibility! 

This is the second time that Professor Jacobson has me thinking about S&S. Well, if I’m no Lizzie Bennett, there are worse things in life than being a Marianne Dashwood.  She had youth and beauty and high spirits.  She wasn’t good at the dating thing, either, and overlooked the better man at first.  Why was that?  Did Colonel Brandon seem unromantic at first impression?

Even though I’ve got an assignment due in Spanish, as well as the inevitable calc and chem homework, I grabbed Sense and Sensibility to take with me to read while I went to dinner. I wanted to read everything in the book about Colonel Brandon.

Anne spotted me in the dining hall while I was halfway through a tuna sandwich and a really big pile of potato chips.  “Hey, Roomie.” She slid her cafeteria tray onto the table across from me and plopped her book bag down beside it.  “You having a really bad day?”

“Um, no I don’t think so, why?” I asked.

“Usually, if you’re having a bad day, you pick up Jane Austen and read a little something before you start to study.  Since instead of sitting here doing your homework, you’re sitting here reading Jane Austen, I take it you had an exceptionally bad day today.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jeanette Watts had been writing historic fiction when the inspiration for Jane Austen Lied to Me hit her on the drive home from the Jane Austen Festival. The idea was simply irresistible, and she put aside other writing projects in order to focus on writing a satire, thinking it would be a "mental vacation." It turned out to take every bit as much research to write a modern story as it does to write a historical one.

She has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing.  When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.


Twitter:  @JeanetteAWatts

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Blast & #Giveaway for Dark Genius by H. Peter Alesso

Welcome to my stop on the Book Blast, presented by Goddess Fish Promotions, for Dark Genius by H. Peter Alesso. Please leave a comment or question for Peter to let him know you stopped by. You may enter the tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You may visit all of the stops on the tour by clicking on the banner above.  The more stops you visit, the better your odds of winning. Good Luck!

Dark Genius
By H. Peter Alesso

Publisher: Video Software Laboratory
Release Date: December 9, 2017
Genre: Fiction
Length: 236 Pages

Pre-Order Link: Amazon

About the book:

To the insatiably curious—science is the greatest adventure. So, when scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the ‘God’ particle in 2012, all the world wondered, “How did they find it?”

A decade later, despite his past academic failures and egregious family circumstance, Andrew Lawrence embarked on a journey of discovery, competing against rival scientists to be the first to solve the greatest unsolved mystery of the universe—dark matter—and win the ultimate prize; the Nobel. 

Emma Franklin, a PhD candidate at Harvard, developed software for detecting particle reactions using a quantum computer. To the amazement and excitement of the scientific community, her work revealed two possible bumps in the energy curve that were not predicted by any established theory.

At MIT, Lawrence created a model that predicted the scattering processes of a dark matter supersymmetry particle. Though his early work was disparaged, he improved his theory and found that it predicted the data Emma had discovered. Their professional collaboration deepened into a personal relationship, but when critical data was stolen, Emma found evidence that incriminated Lawrence. Though she withheld the impeaching material from the authorities, she felt she could no longer trust him.

Despite their troubled partnership, and notwithstanding the complexities of nature, Lawrence and Emma persevered against the egos, jealousy, and envy of rivals, on their exhilarating quest to find the ‘Holy Grail’ of physics. 


I thought all was lost—now I have a second chance.

With a profound sense of relief, Andrew Lawrence slide his tablet into his shoulder holster and walked briskly along the Boston sidewalk. His past academic failures and egregious family circumstances were behind him. He was ready for a fresh start.

Tall, slender, and dark-haired, he listened to the clicking and clacking of shuffling shoes on the pavement as students jostled alongside him. The hint of autumn from the cool morning air brought a frenzy of activity to the sprawling campuses of both MIT and Harvard which nurtured a flourishing rivalry among their ambitious students. He could feel the undercurrent of tension for the start of the fall term.

By the time he crossed Longfellow Bridge, his adrenaline was pumping. He noticed several eight-man sculls already rowing down the Charles River, their school colors plainly visible. Squinting his eyes against the glare, he could make out the MIT and Harvard boats vying for the lead, stroke by stroke.

Striding across the rambling campus, his lips concealed a secret smile as he contemplated a revolutionary solution to a problem he had been daydreaming about. When he swung around a corner, he ran smack-dab into a young woman. Her armload of books, papers, and assorted technology flew into the air and scattered across the walkway.

“Sor . . . sorry.”

“You should be,” the woman said, her face screwed into a tight scowl. “Your head was in the clouds.”

Lawrence opened his mouth, but before he could speak, she pointed down and said, “See what you’ve done?”

She stooped and frantically tried to corral her absconding belongings.

“Let me help,” said Lawrence, grasping some loose papers about to blow away.

Spying her tablet on the grass, she exclaimed, “Oh no! All my work.”

Carefully, she picked up the device and turned it on, tapping her fingers impatiently until the screen lit up. She heaved a sigh and looked Lawrence directly in the eyes. “You’re lucky. Sooo . . . lucky.”

Lawrence mumbled another apology and helped her pick up the last few books.

As she struggled to reorganize her treasures, Lawrence brushed a strand of hair away from his eyes and for the first time cast an appraising glance at the young woman.

She was attractive.

It wasn’t that she was a striking beauty—though her smooth white skin, olive green eyes, and classic profile complemented the hazelnut hair that cascaded over her shoulders. Nor was her carriage especially eye-catching, though she displayed an appealing youthful vitality. No, what seemed most appealing was her confident determined poise, as if she possessed a special hidden talent.

“You really should use a backpack.”

“The lining ripped,” she retorted.

Seeing the logos on her tablet’s screen, Lawrence asked, “Harvard? Math?”

“I can tell by your tone that you’re MIT,” she said, her eyes flashing.

Lawrence grinned, “Physics.” As an afterthought, he asked, “What are you doing on this campus?”

“Well, Mr. Physics, that’s none of your concern.”

Something in the way she said it, caused him to laugh.

They faced each other in a stand-off for a long moment—saying nothing.

Then the young woman heaved a sigh, gathered her possessions to her chest, and brushed past him.

Lawrence watched her figure disappear into the crowd.

Damn. I didn’t get her name.

As he turned to leave, something shiny on the ground caught his eye. It was a flash drive.

Picking it up, he spun around and called, “Wait!”

But she was gone.

He looked at the memory stick, thinking . . .

I’ll have to crack her password, if I’m going to see her again.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:

As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of ten books.

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Book Tour & #Giveaway for His High-Stakes Bride by Martha Hix

Welcome to my stop on the Book Tour, presented by Silver Dagger Book Tours, for His High-Stakes Bride by Martha Hix.  Please leave a comment or question for Martha to let her know you stopped by.  You may enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. Good Luck!

by Martha Hix
Texan Brides, Book 3
Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub Date: 8/29/2017

Win, lose—or fall in love . . .

After losing her mama and all she has, vagabond Patience “Patty” Sweet dreams of reuniting with her father in the New Mexico territory. So she teams up with a no-good gambler whose winnings enable her to get her closer to her destination. Patty hates hanging around saloons and poker parlors, pulling dishonest deeds. But when a game of five-card draw goes wrong in Lubbock, Texas, Patty gets offered up as collateral—to a handsome stranger who’s about to turn the tables . . .

Lawyer Grant Kincaid has no intention of claiming his prize—a nearly nineteen-year-old petite beauty with sweet eyes—who has a hold on him he can’t deny. But as he tries to help Patty untangle herself from her shady partner, he discovers she’s not as innocent as she seems. For starters, she’s already stolen his hardened heart . . .

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Chapter 1

Lubbock, Texas, 1910 
Under a full moon

It is a sad day in a woman’s life when she comes to grips with weakness of character. Today might have been that way for Patience Eileen Sweet, but she couldn’t dwell on something like that. Not this day, which had turned into a warm autumn night in 1910. Not when she intended to escape the mess of her own making. Her papa would have told her, “Patty Cake, proceed with caution.” He always claimed full moons bring babies, lunatics, and any number of disasters, particularly mine cave-ins.

Tonight would bring change; that she knew beforehand. This night unfolded for Patty in a saloon. By the midnight hour the floozies had served their last drinks and were nowhere to be seen, most of the customers having cleared out. The bartender did nothing to cover his yawns. Cigar smoke still curled toward the tin ceiling. Gaming chips still pinged. Three gamblers refused to give in or give up.

Still and all, it would be over soon.

Looking up from her mending, she meant to steal a glance at her “stepbrother,” but she locked gazes with one of the gamblers instead, and not for the first time this evening. The three were close enough that she could get a good look—he was the handsomest man she’d ever seen. As he had the other times, he nodded once. There was a puzzled, curious look to his fine features, certainly not the nasty-old-pervert leer that Dorinda had warned her to look out for.

She did like this man’s black-haired, blue-eyed looks. He wore the garb of  a West  Texan—a yoked shirt with mother-of-pearl buttons  and denim britches that hugged him just right. His boots were the same kind that cowboys wore, only this ’poke’s weren’t scuffed or worn out. His clothes looked too clean, his hair and chin too smooth for a man of the land. He looked rich.

Patty moved her line of sight to her partner-in-crime, Chet Merkel. It was his turn to deal, and she could tell he was losing at five-card stud. They couldn’t afford for him to lose, not even for one evening, yet she prayed for his bad luck.

She knew what his next move would be. He’d barter her virginity. For the third time.
Twice before to two different men in two different towns.

Tonight it was Scarlet Garter Jenny’s Saloon. The “winner” would  be a short, dark sheriff wearing a big, thick wedding ring. Or else the winner might be that curious fellow—the smooth-shaven pretty boy that the drunkards, gamblers, and preening waitresses called “counselor” and “mouthpiece,” with “Grant” or “Kincaid” thrown in from time to time. Well, the painted ladies usually said “Sugar.”

Neither of these men looked as gullible as the previous winners of her so-called prize.

Anyway, Patty knew how to get out of being the night’s reward. Did she even want to? Just looking at Grant Kincaid had her in a tizzy. One way or another, things would be different tonight. She was cutting all ties to her double-dealing snake of a “stepbrother,” Chet Merkel.

Definitely, she wouldn’t be rendezvousing with Chet later.

* * * *

Grant Kincaid spent many nights at the poker table. As a bachelor uninterested in ice-cream socials or musical recitals performed by the boring flowers of Lubbock society, he lacked choices beyond reading and visiting friends or relatives. Not that he had any local relatives, beyond the Kincaids of the High Hopes farm and ranch and their relatives, the Craigs. He hailed from the shoals of the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama. Besides, he enjoyed playing cards. After the last hand of an evening, he sometimes got lucky with one of the tarts, two if he was really lucky. He liked ’em ripe, filled out, and hotter than a thin-skinned jalapeño pepper under the broiling Texas sun.

Tonight, he’d been leery of the tinhorn already at the Garter when Grant arrived for Thursday night poker. The odd-looking fellow, who’d shown up with an adolescent sister in tow, wanted to join the game between Grant and the general store proprietor, a local rancher, noted baker Mrs. Jewel Craig, and Sheriff Wes Alington, who played whenever his mother went visiting in San Angelo.

The last seat was occupied by a cotton-gin salesman from Dallas. Since the High Hopes Ranch showed that cotton could be successfully grown in West Texas, cotton had become a popular way to make money in the previous decade.

Tonight, the table cleared early with the less-than-dapper newcomer— he introduced himself as Chet Merkel—taking several hands. Jewel the baker bowed out first. Next went the general store man and the rancher. The cotton-gin representative took his leave after his third bad hand. That left Alington, Grant, and the tinhorn.

Luck started going Grant’s way, then the sheriff’s.

Always cool and quiet at the table, the compactly built lawman wore black and a shiny silver star, but never a sign of his wealth. His history with card playing didn’t reach far back. After he’d married a Valkyrie from the Hill Country, he’d taken up gaming. His mother had and would object to just about anything that might have “enjoyment” tacked to it, but the missus advised Alington just to do what he wanted, as long as he was smart enough to hide it from Mother Dear and it didn’t involve cavorting with other women. That was laughable. The sheriff had eyes only for his Lisa-Ann. Grant hoped when he found a wife that he could love her even half as much as Alington idolized the blonde from The Divide.

“Do you plan to answer my bet, Mr. Merkel?” Wes Alington pointed to the five green chips he’d slid to the center of the baize-covered table.

A bead of sweat popped on Merkel’s temple. Carelessly flicking cigar ashes on the floor, he cast a glance at his sister who sat primly in a straight chair in the corner, mending a garment that looked to be a shirt.

Grant eyed the girl, as he had several times. This dimple-cheeked young lady had long titian-hued hair held up in a big white bow. Dressed in the childish style of a sailor, she wore leggings that covered her slender calves, and her hems were short, befitting a little girl. He would bet every last chip in front of him that she wasn’t a day over sixteen.

She was too young to be candy to the senses. Most men of his age wanted to marry girls of sixteen or seventeen—often even younger, to pluck a cherry from the tree—but this man preferred women to girls, and he wasn’t angling for a wife.

That’s what he liked to tell himself. In truth, he yearned to find the ideal lady to fill the emptiness of his heart and home.

“See your bet, Sheriff, and raise you a hundred.” The girl’s brother tossed the required chips atop Alington’s last bet.

One hundred? A ridiculous bet for a friendly game. It was time to end this nonsense. Given his excellent hand, Grant figured the only call for Merkel was “quits.” He said, “Raise you two hundred.”

It turned out that Alington had bluffed with two jacks. He folded, saying, “Too rich for me. And it’s past my Lisa-Ann’s tuck-in time. Don’t want to miss that.”

He took his leave; then Merkel covered the bet.

“Raise you five hundred,” Grant challenged, feeling confident with his four-of-a-kind and ready for bed himself. Circuit court would convene this Saturday and he had a pair of cases to review tomorrow.

The stranger sucked his cigar, squinting at his challenger. He was squinty- eyed to begin with. “Look, I’m short on chips. I can cover your bet, but I’ll have to collect the cash from the hotel’s strongbox. Tomorrow morning.”

“That’s not the way we play poker in Lubbock, my friend.” 

“I have…collateral.”

“How is that?”

“That girl—I mean, lady—over there.” The way he spoke, a person would think the room had dozens of females. “That lovely brown-eyed lady. She’s my collateral.”

“No thanks.”

“You don’t like women?”

 “Don’t go there, my friend.”

“I’m asking for a break, sir. I’m trying to bet a good hand. A hand so pat that I’m willing to put up my own sister as my stake.”

“Your sister.” Grant saw absolutely no family resemblance. Of course, this was Texas, where families socialized in barrooms, and even brought their little children along. “Same mother, or same father?”

“Same mo—same father.”

That stumble gave Merkel away as a liar. Grant saw no need to tread that avenue. 

“I don’t know where you’re from, but brothers don’t bring their sisters to places like this, not one on one.”

“I beg your pardon, sir. She’s my sister. My one and only. What was I to do with her? Leave her alone in the hotel tonight?”

Grant took another look. Earlier, he’d seen Jewel Craig buying the girl a glass of milk that went untouched. “Don’t you think she might enjoy a root beer, or at least a cup of water? She’s been sitting there for hours.” While you’ve swilled several beers.

“If Patience wants something, she’ll find a way to get it.”

If a man said something like that in Alabama, a gentleman would jump to the young lady’s rescue to fetch her a refreshment, if he didn’t have a servant to do it. He would certainly want to know what part of the North the uncouth toad hailed from. This wasn’t the Deep South. Grant asked, “Are you going to take my raise or not?”

“What about my problem? I’ve got money. Plenty. Oklahoma money. Forty-sixth state money. That’s where we’re from, Oklahoma. Tulsa. Oil country. I just made a stack on mineral rights.”

“Is that so?” Grant didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the newest state, although his friend the sheriff had mentioned Oklahoma being a place that gushed oil.

Merkel flicked his index finger along the top of his hand of cards, ruffling the five. “I’ve got a hand I believe in. Allow me to stay in the game on the strength of an evening with my sister. Just think. My sweet, untouched sister, right over there, preparing you a tasty breakfast in the morning. Could happen. Or not.”

Grant Kincaid took the measure of Chet Merkel, seeing a beady-eyed fellow of about twenty. He grew a thin, kinked beard to cover a lack of chin. Pomade slicked the brown hair over his dome. His sartorial effects had been tailored to a larger man. Truth to tell, his observer almost felt sorry for the man. He was not an impressive negotiator. All in all, he came across as hard luck.

Grant eyed the girl again. The needlework now in her lap, she stared back, her eyes big and round. She too looked desperate, with scared mixed in. He eyed Merkel again. Did this idiot even realize what he’d suggested? “What are you doing, bringing your sister into a saloon? She’s a child.”

“It’s not against the law. She’s nineteen.”

 “Fifteen. And you’re not her guardian.”

 “Says who? And she’s nineteen.”

“Save it, son. I am not fooled.”

“All right. She’s eighteen. You’re correct. She’s not my sister. She’s a stepsister…after a fashion.”

Grant groaned and rolled his eyes.

Merkel ground out his cigar. “She’s Patience Sweet, sir. In December of ’08, her pa left for a mining job in the Territory of New Mexico. He’s not been heard from since. He’s dead, likely. Her mother believes so. She took up with my pa. They live as man and wife. Somewhere in Oklahoma. Exactly where, I cannot say, because Patience and I do not know.”

Grant noticed she dabbed her eye with a hankie. Poor innocent.

“Her ma abandoned her. Left her with the rent overdue. When I arrived to find my father and to collect an inheritance that should’ve been  mine, what I found was this young woman. The total of my inheritance, you might say, was the suit on my back and the contents of Patience’s larder—a roach on a reduction diet.”

“What kind of family does she hail from, where they abandon their own?” 

What an idiotic question. One look at Merkel answered that, really. These folks scraped by. As a lawyer, Grant had witnessed how badly families could and did treat their own. The mineral-rights money? Dollars to doughnuts, there wasn’t any. 

Merkel was saying, “Me, I’m headed to Juarez, then on down to Chihuahua City. I’ve got my own mining ideas. It’s a crystal palace, that part of Mexico. Crystals have value in numerous regards and will make me a wealthy man. As soon as Patience got wind of my travel plans, she latched on. She hopes to connect with her father, or news of him, in El Paso.”

“Where’s your problem with that?”

“Not a problem one, sir. How fortunate for you, not knowing what it’s like to be hungry.”

“You don’t know that.”

“True. What I do know is, the Universe favored my mother and me in the form of a dear old gypsy who took us in when my father turned us out. Thus, I owed the universe a favor, so I have looked after Patience Sweet. It ain’t been easy. Somebody latches on; they have to be provided for. That one, she got a toothache. That meant a dentist. She got her womanly, it ruint her dress. I had to buy another. She eats like a horse. You ever fed a horse?”

This tale of desperation had a ring of truth to it, not that cockamamie oil nonsense. 

“How long has she been…‘latched’ to you?”

“Six months.”

Half a year. Hundreds of nights where Merkel begrudged every spent cent. He was now at the point to barter her services. Good God. The villain probably defiled her himself. Grant had to know: “What exactly are you offering, should I win?”

“Whatever you wish between now and breakfast’s end. You meet me back here at, say, ten in the morning. Treat her kindly, sir. Leave no visible scars that will ruin her for the Juarez market.”

Grant looked at the girl. She was listening to the exchange, the poor thing. He turned back to the man who would sell her, as if she were a hunk of meat. “I’m to wager a half thousand gold-backed dollars to spend the night with a scared little girl?”

“That’s the size of it. And you left out ‘virgin.’” 

“What does she have to say about that?”

“She won’t mind. She takes what comes to her.”

That thought further turned Grant’s stomach. He leaned toward Merkel to whisper, “Is she simpleminded?”

“Pretty much. Has been since her baby sister died while in her care and keeping. Broke her spirit.”

Grant wondered if anything good had ever happened to poor little Patience Sweet.

Merkel was saying, “I’ve offered her to you for the night, because I know in my heart that Patience will sleep in her cozy bed at the Antlers Hotel tonight. And I’ll have my thousand dollars when I reach the Rio Grande.”

“What about her father?”

“If he has my asking price, I’ll do the right thing and let him have her. I won’t even ask for the full thousand.”

“Aren’t you the gallant?” Grant sneered. “Tell me something. What makes you think she won’t have something to say about this?”

Merkel rolled his stogie from one side of his mouth to the other. He leaned his chair back, propping himself up to grin. “That’s the beauty of it. Patience can’t speak. She’s a mute. She does as she’s told. Except to stay away from me.”

He’s playing me for a fool. The issue became a case of betting five hundred dollars to save her from white slavery.

Grant hitched a thumb toward the exit door. “Forget  it.  Get  the  hell out of here.”

“Wait just a minute, sir.” Chair legs banged to the floor, sawdust swirling. “If you don’t take my offer, that means you just want to keep all the money I’ve wagered this evening.”

“This is an honest game. You played. You won for a while. You started losing.” When that didn’t seem to sink in, Grant asked, “Do you not know there are laws against selling women’s favors?”

It was then that he caught sight of the girl again. Standing now, the mending at her feet, her fingers were a steeple beneath her chin, begging his help. She mouthed the word “please.” He knew right then and there he had to win the hand.

Martha Hix grew up in Texas and didn’t mind listening to stories about how her ancestors had been in the place for a long, long time. Well, in Texas that just meant more than a hundred years. This weird kid soaked up the stories and became an ardent student of family and general history, which came in handy when she took to writing both fiction and non-fiction. Eventually, her romance novels were translated into many foreign languages, some of them very foreign, like Japanese, Greek, and Turkish. On the home front, she lives in the fabulous Texas Hill Country with her husband and their spoiled four-legged kids. Visit her on the web at

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