“Ready to Post” Mini Tour Sign Up: Last Blue Christmas by Rose Prendeville (Dec 13 – 17) Genre: Holiday Romance @RosePrendeville @RRBookTours #Romance #Books

Hey Bookworms!

This is super short notice but I have a feeling it will be hard to turn down a holiday romance AND a $50 Amazon gift card giveaway!

I’m organizing a mini tour for Last Blue Christmas by Rose Prendeville and I am looking for hosts. Reviews would be lovely and there will room for a few book spotlights. Since it is short notice, review copies will be available in digital formats and as I said the giveaway is a digital copy of the book and a $50 Amazon e-Gift card!

Sign up below!

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Last Blue Christmas

Expected Publication Date: December 1st, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Holiday Romance

The only case they haven’t cracked is how to be together.

Not on Officer Maggie Kyle’s Christmas bingo card:

• A homemade bomb in a bus station locker.

• A child, the prime suspect in the bombing.

• Her partner of ten years abandoning her to solve the case on her own.

Max St. James might be the worst cop in the world—or at least in Toronto:

• He fell in love with his partner.

• He’s the reason she never became a detective.

• He doesn’t much care who planted the bomb.

The IED’s blast ignites years of tension, sending Maggie and Max careening in opposite directions—but opposites still attract.

Can they find a way to come together to solve the case before another bomb goes off?

And will it mean another ten years sacrificing the future they want for the partnership they already have?

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About the Author

RosePrendevilleHeadShot

Rose Prendeville is a librarian and honorary Canadian with a passion for stories about found families and flawed people doing their best.

She’s been devising such tales for as long as she can remember, including secretly in the back of her tenth grade French class (Pardon, Madame Gonzales), and she went on to double-major in screenwriting and creative writing.

Hydrangeas are her lifeblood, hot baths and hiking are her solace. She adores baking (and mostly eating) macarons, and she can’t wait to share this and future books with you.

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Book Release Blitz: Pretty Deadly by Kelsey Josund @KelseyJosund @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #PrettyDeadly

Happy book birthday to author Kelsey Josund! Today marks the release of her murderous Cinderella retelling, Pretty Deadly! Read on for details.

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Pretty Deadly

Publication Date: October 26th, 2021 (TODAY 🎉)

Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Fairytale Retelling (Not YA)

Cinna would quite literally kill for the throne.

She’s spent years forced to serve her wealthy cousins rather than attend society events alongside them, waiting for the chance to prove herself and exact revenge. When a ball is announced at the castle, promising to bring many powerful people to town, she seizes the opportunity to strike.

She bets her best friend, a small-time thief and con-man, that she can land a greater score the night of the ball than he can. They embark on parallel heists. But as their plots unfold, things begin to unravel: by the end of the night, the castle’s on lock down, a duchess is dead, a mansion has burnt to the ground, and Cinna hasn’t stolen anything. Or has she stolen something more valuable than gold and jewels?

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Excerpt

How interesting, Cinna thought. She had spent so many hours bent over a stove in the kitchen or crouched before the hearth, stoking flames carefully that refused to light. But she had prepared: this house was waiting tinder, ready to be consumed. 

She couldn’t hear the screams over the roar of the flames, but surely they were there. Strangely, she didn’t feel cheated to have not heard their voices. It was fine that they died in silence. 

It did not take long for the neighbors to begin streaming out of their own houses, and she did hear their screams. They swarmed around the flames, politely mute once they realized they could not do anything, full of awe before the enormity of the fire. Cinna blended into the crowd, nearly invisible in her costume. 

At last, just as she had always pledged she would, she watched the house fall in on itself.

Now Available on Amazon

About the Author

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I am a software engineer and author living and working in Silicon Valley, California. I studied computer science at Stanford University, but I’ve always loved stories in all their forms. I approach writing fiction the same way I approach writing code: I like to know where it’s going, but I want to figure out the details as I go along. Good software is a lot like a good story, full of neat and clever solutions to tricky problems, beautiful at a granular level but also from a distance.

Originally from Seattle, I love getting outdoors and living in places that allow me to escape to the mountains on the weekends, and I care deeply about the ecosystems that humans impact and that impact us. My writing explores these issues while also following classic coming-of-age arcs in science fiction and fantasy. I’m also very interested in stories and characters that complicate the traditional and familiar, leading me to fairytale retellings from unexpected angles.

Kelsey Josund | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Book Release Blitz & Giveaway: Silver Lining by Viola Tempest @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #SilverLining

Happy publication day to author Viola Tempest! Check out her new novel Silver Lining, and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of this genre-blurring book!

Silver Lining

Silver Lining

Publication Date: September 26th (Today🎉)

Genre: Dystopian/ Dark Romance

Tired of one-night stands and failed relationships, Marissa Sinclair sets out to change her luck by creating Silver Lining, a revolutionary contact lens that matches people with their one true love.

Like Marissa, Bethany Rose, among others, is hopeful the lens will help her find the love of her life. But soon, the perfect solution becomes her worst nightmare…

A major malfunction blurs the line between reality and disaster. Bethany, a once bright, beautiful young woman, loses touch with reality. Her life spirals out of control and leads her down a dark tunnel between madness and the consequences of gambling with her love life.

Witnessing the disturbing transformation, Thea is convinced the technology is to blame. The only problem is, no one believes her. With her desperation growing stronger and her desire to pull her friend out of the abyss, she risks everything to let the world know the truth. But will she succeed in her mission, or will the desperate all fall victim to the Zetas?

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Excerpt

Bethany wasn’t safe though. She thought it would be easy to just forget, to just immerse herself in the fantasy world and ignore the real world, because it’s not like she was happy in it anyway. But the façade kept falling apart.

Haven didn’t have a job, so he was around her all the time. She needed space, needed to breathe, needed somebody she didn’t have to babysit or take care of.

And then when he did get a job, she wanted him back in the apartment, back in her life all the time, because they no longer spent any time together. So, he got a part-time job as a waiter, but part of her knew that wasn’t real. She didn’t know what she wanted anymore.

And then when he was at home all the time again, the cycle started all over. And he never called her out on it, just bent to her will. And the more he did, the more the logical part of her brain piped up, saying that this couldn’t be real. She was living in some sort of love-sick nightmare.

“Honey, please stop pushing me away.” Haven looked up at her from the couch. “Let me say this, no matter how much you try and push me away, I will never leave. You can’t argue your way out of this relationship by nitpicking at me. I love you too much for that.”

“But that isn’t healthy! You need to be your own person, not let me walk all over you!” Bethany finally screamed.

She heard a thump somewhere in the background, but when she tried to focus on it, she couldn’t register where it had come from. Bethany looked around herself, and her eyes fell on the remote. She walked over.

“Please, don’t hurt yourself with that anymore. You know how you feel when you turn it off,” Haven said.

She glared at him and clicked the button. The smell hit her nostrils, and Bethany screamed, trying to get the crawling bugs off her skin. She needed to turn on the lens again; she couldn’t live like this.

“Miss, open the door,” someone banged on the entrance to her apartment.

“Shit.”

A heavy thump sounded, and a man shoulder-pounded against the door so hard that the lock broke. Bethany clicked the remote on instinct.

She managed to register the police uniform right before her world shifted, and Haven returned. Then, she saw nothing but him, sitting in the middle of the couch, smiling as the sunlight streamed through the open windows.

“What’s wrong with me?” Bethany asked.

She could feel a pressure on her arms, but she had no idea why.

“Relax, honey, you’re okay.” Haven got up and hugged her. His fingers carded through her hair.

“I’m still mad at you.”

“I know, but everything will be fine. You’ll see.”

“Miss, miss, can you hear me?”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Rising author, Viola Tempest, yearns to find truth in the modern world. She loves to write dystopian fantasy and dark romance novels depicting human reality.

Viola Tempest

Giveaway: Paperback Edition of Silver Lining (Giveaway ends on September 29th)

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Book Release Blitz: The Perfect Murder by Kat Martin @katmartinauthor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

Congratulations to Kat Martin on the release of The Perfect Murder! A romantic suspense perfect for the beach or pool! Read on for details and a chance to win a $20 Amazon e-gift card and a digital copy of The Ultimate Betrayal!

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The Perfect Murder

Publication Date: Today 🎉

Publisher: HQN

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is back with her most thrilling novel yet in the Maximum Security series—The Perfect Murder.

The eldest of the three wealthy Garrett brothers, Reese Garrett is in the middle of a major purchase for his multimillion-dollar oil and gas company, Garrett Resources. The Poseidon offshore drilling platform venture will greatly enhance the company’s value.

But when Reese is on a trip out to see the rig, his helicopter crashes, leaving him hospitalized and two men dead. It’s discovered the chopper was sabotaged, and Reese is determined to find out who’s behind the crash—and whether he was the intended target. Then, when his lover, Kenzie, is accused of her ex-husband’s murder—a man with a vested interest in the Poseidon deal—clues start pointing to a connection that puts Reese, Kenzie and her young son in the sights of a killer.

From the Texas heat to the Louisiana bayous, Reese and his brothers must track down the truth before the body count gets any higher.

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Chapter One

Galveston, Texas: Last Day of July

Seconds after the chopper lifted off the pad, Reese felt the odd vibration.  Along with the pilot and co-pilot and five members of the crew, the Eurocopter EC135 was headed for the Poseidon offshore drilling platform. 

For a moment, the ride leveled out and Reese relaxed against his seat.  As CEO of Garrett Resources, the billion-dollar oil and gas company he owned with his brothers, he was always searching for the right investment to expand company holdings, the reason he was flying out to the platform.

For months he’d been working with Sea Titan Drilling, the owner of the offshore rig, to complete the five-hundred-million-dollar purchase, an extremely good value when the average price of a similar rig was around six-fifty. 

The vibration returned and with it came a grinding noise that put Reese on alert.  The men in the cabin began to glance back and forth and shift nervously in their seats.  A sharp jolt, then the chopper seemed to fall out of the sky.  It climbed again, began to dip and sway, dropped then climbed as the pilot fought for control.

The pilot’s deep voice rumbled through the headset.  “We’ve got a problem.  I don’t want you to panic, but we need to find a place to set down.” 

There was definitely a problem, Reese thought, as the vibration continued to worsen.  The chopper was out of control and the whole cabin was shaking as if it would break apart any minute.  His pulse was hammering, his adrenalin pumping.

 Along with the men in the crew who rode back and forth from the rig every few weeks, he stared out the window toward the ground.  They were no longer above the heliport.  Clearly the pilot was looking for an open space big enough to handle the thirty-six-foot blade span.  All Reese could see were the rooftops of warehouses and metal commercial buildings.

The chopper kept shaking.  The crew was grim-faced but resigned.  The pilot did something to take the pitch out of the rotors and the chopper started falling.

“No need to worry,” the pilot said.  “We’ll auto-rotate down.  I’ve done it a dozen times.”

Auto rotate down.  Reese knew the concept, the technique helicopter pilots used to land when the engine failed.  The trick was to find a safe place to hit the ground. 

Both engines went silent.  The blades were flat now, the wind whistling through them, tying his stomach into a knot.

“Brace for impact,” the pilot said.  Below them, Reese spotted an open flat slab of asphalt in the yard of a small trucking firm–the only possible landing site anywhere around.  Trouble was it didn’t look wide enough to handle the blades. 

At the last second, the pilot flared the helicopter in an effort to slow the descent, then the ground rushed up and the chopper hit with a jolt that wracked Reese’s whole body.

For an instant, he thought they were going to make it.  Then one of the spinning rotor blades hit the corner of a building and tore free.  The Plexiglas bubble shattered as the long metal blades exploded into a hundred deadly pieces, careening like knives through the air, slicing into buildings and the cabin of the helicopter. 

Reese didn’t feel the impact.  One moment he was conscious, then the world suddenly went black.

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Giveaway: Win a $20 Amazon e-gift card (US Dollars) and a digital copy of The Ultimate Betrayal! Giveaway runs from today until June 25th!

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About the Author

Kat Martin head shot (high res)

New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.

Kat Martin | FacebookTwitter | BookBub | Instagram

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Book Release: Come Midnight by Kat Martin @katmartinauthor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours (June 1st) Genre: Romantic Suspense

Congratulations to author Kat Martin on the release of her latest novella, Come Midnight

510Sfk+fJCLCome Midnight

Publication Date: June 1st, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Suspense/ Thriller

Length: 84 Pages

A routine flight turns into a suspenseful race through the remote jungles of Honduras

When strangers Breanna Winters and Derek Stiles met on a flight to Colombia, they never imagined they would need to rely on each other for survival. Taken hostage by a group of radical environmental vigilantes, Bree worries her secret identity has been discovered—and her fears are confirmed when she learns a ransom request has been sent to her father. Though she’s the daughter of a prominent tech mogul, Bree’s wealth can’t guarantee her safety, so former Navy fighter pilot Derek pretends to be her fiancé in order to accompany her on a dangerous jungle trek led by the radicals. With chemistry building between the pair, a romance isn’t hard to fake, though they can’t let their attraction distract them. If Bree and Derek ever want to see civilization again, they’ll have to work together and rely on their wits to escape their captors.

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Excerpt

The sound of a baby’s high-pitched, incessant crying put his teeth on edge.  Derek Stiles forced himself to relax as he settled back in his wide business class seat.  The airplane engines hummed outside the window, dulling the noise a little, but the crying only grew louder.

Derek silently cursed.  His trip to Colombia had already gotten off to a rocky start when a meeting in the Houston office of Garrett Resources, where he worked as VP of Mergers and Acquisitions, ran overtime and he’d missed his non-stop flight.  Now he’d be landing in El Salvador, laying over a couple of hours before changing planes and continuing on to Bogota, not getting to his hotel until well after dark.

He pulled out his laptop and set it on the fold-down table in front of him.  He usually worked on a flight.  He always had plenty to do, but he’d been staying up late every night so he also needed some sleep.  It was important to be at the top of his game first thing in the morning.

The baby’s cries grew louder and his nerves revved up.  He hadn’t really noticed the woman sitting in the seat beside him until she stood up and turned toward mother and child in the row behind him. 

She jangled her car keys over the back of the seat and smiled.  “Look, baby.  Look at these.  I bet you’d like to play with these, wouldn’t you?”  The baby’s crying slowed, turned to whimpers, then sniffles, then stopped altogether.  Glancing over his shoulder, Derek watched a little girl bundled in pink, maybe a year old, reach up for the car keys.

“I never thought of that,” the mother said, sounding desperate and making him feel guilty.  He didn’t have kids but he could imagine how tough it would be to take a child on an international flight.

The mom, a black-haired woman in her mid-twenties, took out her own set of keys and held them up, but the baby ignored them, fascinated by the glittering heart on the end of the other keychain dangling in front of her.

“I hate to ask you this,” the mother said, “but is it all right if Sophie plays with your keys for a while?”

“Absolutely,” his seatmate said.  She was pretty, he realized, with long blond hair and big blue eyes.  A little above average height, slender but curvy in all the right places.  “Once we’re in the air,” she continued, “if you want me to hold her, give you a little break, I’d be happy to.”

The mother’s smile held relief mixed with gratitude.  “I might just take you up on that.  My name is Carmen, by the way.”

“Breanna.”  Her smile went even brighter and Derek felt an unexpected kick.  He was usually able to leave his libido behind when he was away on business. 

“You have a darling baby,” Breanna said.

Carmen smiled.  “Thank you.”

The flight attendant urged Breanna to sit back down so the flight could get underway, and the engines roared, preparing for take-off.

“So I guess you’re a mom,” Derek heard himself saying, though he made it a habit not to talk on a flight.  He always had too much to do.

Breanna shifted toward him.  “I’d love to have children someday, but I’m not a mother yet.  I work with kids so I know a few tricks.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m with a non-profit called Shelter the Children.  Abrego Los Ninos in Spanish.  We support an orphanage in a little village outside San Salvador.  That’s where I’m headed.”  

He smiled and held out a hand.  “Derek Stiles.  I know your name is Breanna.”

“Yes.  Everyone just calls me Bree.”

They were an hour out of San Salvador International Airport when Derek noticed a commotion at the rear of the cabin. 

Then the curtain behind the business class section jerked open and a lean, black-haired man stood in the aisle.  Derek’s blood ran cold when he noticed the assault rifle strapped across the intruder’s chest. 

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Kat Martin head shot (high res)

New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.

Kat Martin | FacebookTwitter | BookBub

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Book Release & #Giveaway: The Tribesmen of Juno (The Survivors #3) by Robert I. Katz (May 25th) Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy @robertikatz @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BookBirthday

Today, we are celebrating the release of The Tribesmen of Juno by Robert I. Katz! It is the latest installment of his sci-fi series The Survivors. Read on for more details, a peek at the first chapter AND a chance to win some great prizes!

Tribesmen of Juno v.2.1The Tribesmen of Juno: The Survivors #3

Publication Date: May 25th, 2021

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

Publisher: Rukia Publishing US

From USA Today bestselling author, Robert I. Katz, comes The Tribesmen of Juno, Book Three of The Survivors.

Thirty years ago, Terence Allen left his father’s home in the city of the Viceroy, and under the assumed name of Blake Pierce, gained both fame and fortune, first as a wandering ronin, then as a mercenary commander. Now, Blake Pierce is the Duke of Taverno, and he controls half the nation of Venecia.

Blake Pierce is a power in the world, but the cities that owe Taverno loyalty are being bribed to switch allegiance to his principal opponent, Benedetto Corsi, the Duke of Siena.

In far away Fomaut, the Primate has been assassinated. Wolford is beset by unknown forces.

All over the continent, unrest is stirring.

Men are digging into the ruins of the dead cities, seeking riches and the weapons of the nearly forgotten Empire. The industrial revolution encouraged by Blake is slowly grinding to a halt.

For three thousand years, the Viceroy has ruled over all the nations, rarely exerting his authority but tolerating no opposition to his reign. Only the Viceroy retains any remnant of the Ancient’s lost technology. Many men have tried to challenge the Viceroy. All have been crushed.

But the seven nations are stronger and richer than they were, and the Viceroy has expended much of his hoarded arsenal. Has the time come to finally throw off the Viceroy’s rule? Or will Taverno turn into just another dead, radioactive city?

Blake would prefer not to find out, but unseen forces are moving against him, and in the end, he may have no choice but to fight back or lose everything he has gained, including his life.

Chapter One

And so it came to pass in the thirtieth year of the reign of the Viceroy Gaius Tiberius VII that a rebellion arose from a minor princeling in the city of Poitiers. This princeling was tall and handsome, a writer of poetry and a singer of songs, unrivalled with a blade, strong with phrygium, quick with praise for the accomplishments of others. His people loved him and he had been told since he was a small child that he was destined for great things.

His rebellion was small, at first. He questioned the primacy of Inquisitoria over the spiritual needs of his people, arguing that a relationship with the creator could be forged by every individual through devout prayer and without the intercession of God’s anointed.

The Inquisitoria declared this to be heresy, but heresy, though frowned upon, is not forbidden. Only words that encourage active disobedience to Imperial edicts are forbidden. All other enquiry is allowed. The Prince’s thoughts, at first spoken, then written, and then disseminated throughout all the nations, were much discussed.

The Viceroy took no position on this issue.

But then, the Prince decreed that the mandate of heaven had fallen from the Viceroy, since the Empire from which the Viceroy’s authority derived had turned its face from this world. This was rebellion. This was not allowed. The Viceroy, ever merciful, gave the Prince a chance to repent. He refused.

The Viceroy then led an army to the gates of Poitiers and called upon the Prince to emerge, to recant his words and pay homage to his rightful overlord. Again, the Prince refused. The Viceroy, much saddened, returned with his army to the City of Varanisi.

The Prince, joyful in his defiance, decreed a celebration, and declared that the Viceroy’s rule was at an end.

One day later, an Earthquake shattered the city of Poitiers. A day after that, a ball of fire descended from the heavens upon whatever remained. The Prince and those few of his people who had not already abandoned him vanished in the conflagration.

The city of Poitiers no longer exists. Where it once stood, a blue, placid lake now fills a gigantic crater. Fish swim in the lake, but those who eat these fish grow ill. Their hair falls out. Their blood grows thin and pale and then oozes from their mouth and their eyes, and then they die, screaming in agony.

Three hundred years passed before the Viceroy’s rule was again challenged.

From: The Reign of the Viceroys of Gault, Third Edition, New Imperial Library, 4753

“Your Grace?”

Blake Pierce looked up. Colin McGregor insisted on following the rules of protocol and decorum, in public at least, and he did so with an unruffled air of gravity and calm. Colin had been with him for many years, first hired as the purser for Pierce’s Marauders, Blake’s former mercenary company, now serving as seneschal and principal advisor to the Duke of Taverno, Blake’s current and most illustrious title.

“Sit down, Colin.” Blake tapped a piece of parchment sitting on the table in front of him. “What do you make of this?”

Gingerly, Colin picked up the parchment, quickly scanned it, frowned, and then read it again. “Unfortunate,” Colin said.

Yes, the sudden death of Blake’s principal factor in the city of Mitre was “unfortunate.” Natural causes, supposedly. An elderly fellow, he went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. Elderly, and fat, but he had been vigorous and had displayed no prior symptoms before suddenly dropping dead.

Unfortunate.

Mitre was a small city but strategically placed, at the confluence of two rivers providing excellent access to the sea and both isolated and partially defended by a range of encircling mountains. Three large passes cut through the mountains, all surrounded by steep cliffs. Easy enough to rain arrows, boulders or boiling oil down onto an invader. It would take a large and determined force to break through. Unfortunately for Mitre, a small but rich city with a tiny military of its own, at least three such armies were currently considering an invasion.

In years past, Mitre’s small military, combined with the difficulty of reaching the city, had been sufficient to keep them independent, but that was in the days when the King of Venecia aided in keeping the peace. The King was long dead and times had changed.

At least four different poisons could have killed silently in the night. Probably more. Blake was not an expert on poisons but as a sometime agent of the Viceroy, he knew the basics.

“Suggestions?” Blake asked.

Colin puffed up his cheeks and tapped a finger on the arm of his chair while his eyes wandered to the harbor outside the Castle windows. “This changes nothing. We’re offering Mitre protection and an alliance. Prudence would dictate their acceptance.”

“And yet it appears that a message has been delivered, one that the Elders of Mitre cannot fail to understand. They deal with us at their peril.”

Colin shrugged. “If they refuse to deal with us, they will suffer the fate of a thousand other conquered cities. That message, too, will be clearly understood.”

Blake sighed. “We shall see. It is up to them to decide.”

“And,” Colin added, “it is entirely possible that he did die from natural causes.”

Blake reluctantly grinned. “Make certain that an autopsy is performed, and that the results are made public. I expect that his heart has been weak for several years. His courage in performing his duties, suffering as he must have been, is an inspiration to us all.”

“Indeed,” Colin said.

“And give him a nice funeral.”

“Of course.”

Abel Barker knew a thousand ways to kill, but only a few of these left no distinguishing marks upon the body. Of these, poison was the least obvious but was often the most difficult to administer. Poison, to be effective, must be delivered to the body of one’s victim, which means that the assassin must have access to that victim, or must suborn someone in the victim’s circle.

Poison itself might leave no trace, but the method of delivery all too often left a trail.

Almost always better to mix violence with misdirection. Strangle a man, for instance, and then throw him off a tall building, or have him stumble at the edge of a cliff or leave him in the desert for the sand lizards to devour. Anything to destroy the evidence.

And if you don’t mind leaving questions behind, the body can simply disappear.

Poison, though, did have its uses. Sometimes, nothing else would do.

Abel Barker, for most of his life, had served the Viceroy. He had been recruited as a boy, having been discovered in his parent’s small village by a Finder team searching for children with the ability to weave soul-stuff. He had been brought to the Viceroy’s city, Varanisi, educated in the Viceroy’s scholium and been sworn to the Viceroy’s service. In this, he had not been given a choice. Abel Barker would, if necessary, die for the Viceroy. All of his classmates would.

In theory, change could be good, for the individual and for the society in which the individual lived, but more often than not, change brought instability, and the Viceroy prized stability. The Viceroy suffered no challenge to his own rule. After more than two thousand years, the Viceroy had managed to arrange things pretty much the way he wanted them.

Blake Pierce, or Terence Sergei Allen as he had once been known, had started a revolution. The Viceroy had reluctantly allowed that revolution to proceed. Blake Pierce had not been the first to mix the uses of phrygium with the ancient remnants of technology but in theory the innovations he had introduced would advance the Viceroy’s own goals upon this world.

Now, ten years later, the wasteland was filled with searchers, looking for they knew not what, hoping to strike it rich and ignoring the first lesson they had been taught as children, which was to avoid the dead cities.

Abel Barker crept among the trees. It was a dark, quiet night, warm with a light breeze. Somewhere, not far away, an owl hooted.

Seven men slept in the clearing. An eighth stood watch, sitting on a fallen log facing the woods. The sentry yawned, straightened his back and re-filled a ceramic mug with coffee from a pot simmering over a small fire.

Abel Barker’s night vision goggles gave him a clear view of the clearing. His hazmat suit protected him from residual radiation.

The ruins began less than a hundred meters from the clearing. A small city had once stood here. The city had not been physically destroyed. Neutron bombs, followed by radioactive dust, had killed off the population. Centuries later, most of the buildings had crumbled into rubble, but the rubble, and the dirt beneath the rubble, was still filled with both treasures and lingering poisons.

These men were digging for treasure. Unknown to themselves, they were finding poison. Idiots.

In the past ten years, hundreds of small teams, almost all of them poorly equipped and ignorant of the real risks, had decided to try their luck. The majority returned with little of value or did not return at all.

These men had already ingested sufficient ambient radiation to kill them, but it would kill them slowly, over months, perhaps even years. Slowly was not good enough for the Viceroy’s purpose.

Whistling under his breath, Abel Barker opened a small box, pressed a button and quickly retreated. Silently, odorless and invisible, a volatilized gas sprayed upward and then, blown by the breeze, drifted toward the campsite. The gas inhibited the action of acetylcholinesterase on neuromuscular junctions, preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, the body’s principal neurotransmitter. The gas was readily absorbed, either through the lungs or the skin. The first symptoms of exposure included a runny nose, nausea, then, a few minutes later, difficulty breathing. Convulsions and death by asphyxiation would soon follow.

Not a pleasant way to die, but necessary. If any of their comrades came looking for them, the decomposing bodies of these men would serve to reinforce the lessons that they had been taught as children and foolishly chosen to ignore.

An hour later, it was done. Three of the seven had awakened after exposure. They had stumbled out of their tents, vomiting, hoarsely gasping for breath that would not come. They had tried to run but had fallen, twitched a few times, groaned, cried out, struggled and then died.

Abel Barker, a compassionate man (when allowed to be), regretted the actions that circumstances had forced him to take, but knew that good men are often compelled to unpleasant and otherwise regrettable deeds, for the greater good of us all.

Sad, Able Barker thought, but necessary.

An adversary is someone who wants the same things that you want. Nothing personal. It’s competition. You win some and you lose some. An enemy, on the other hand, wants you dead…because he hates you.

Benedetto Corsi was an adversary, not an enemy. Blake was happy about that. Corsi and Blake Pierce had struggled against one another for many years, and to some extent, each had enjoyed the rivalry. Blake had, at least, and he was fairly certain that Corsi had as well.

The same could not be said for Johannes Stryker, and even more so for Saverio Narcena.

Stryker was Corsi’s spymaster, a man whose emotions ran cold, at best, but Stryker, from what little Blake knew of him, took pride in his own intellect, in his objective evaluation of the world around him. Blake, by besting Corsi all those years ago with tactics that neither Corsi nor Stryker had foreseen, and thereby establishing himself as Corsi’s principal rival, had offended Stryker.

Narcena had other reasons to hate Blake. His reasons, in Blake’s estimation, were childish. Years ago, Blake had defeated him in battle, making him look foolish. Corsi had relieved him of command and placed him under Stryker’s tutelage—to learn wisdom. Narcena, in Blake’s estimation, should be thanking Blake for having shown him the error of his ways and setting him upon a path more in keeping with his talents. Narcena, or so Blake’s spies told him, saw things differently.

Blake stood on the highest balcony of Castle Taverno, looking up at the stars from which his ancestors had come, thousands of years ago, and brooded. Mitre was not the first small setback he had suffered. A message had indeed been delivered to the city fathers of Mitre. A similar message had been delivered to Blake. Those messages had been coming more often, their unmistakable sub-text growing louder and louder.

Stop.

Blake sighed. For many years, Blake had served as an agent of that stability the Viceroy so prized. He knew how things worked. He had never grown so complacent, however, as to think that he himself, and the others like him, represented the limits of the Viceroy’s reach.

Blake well remembered the meeting he had with the Viceroy, when blood feud had first been declared against him by Thierry Jorge Garcia. The Viceroy had gently and sadly explained to him that in the world outside Varanisi, his commands meant little. The Kings and Queens and leaders of the various nations paid lip service to the Viceroy’s primacy but had no hesitation in ignoring him when they felt like doing so.

The Viceroy had seemed so regretful at his inability to help, so sincere. Blake, being young and naïve, had believed him.

Each year, the Viceroy sent the finders abroad, looking for children with the talent to weave phrygium, soul-stuff as it was often called. The parents of such children were handsomely rewarded, the children taken to be educated and raised in the Viceroy’s palace, and once in the Viceroy’s palace, a worm was planted in their brains, a worm which grew and bored deep, doing no harm, but enforcing the Viceroy’s will. A neural web it used to be called, in the far-off and long vanished Empire of Mankind, a tool to control the victim’s behavior.

Tindall and Eliza, whose services the Viceroy had loaned him, were once such children. They had helped Blake achieve hegemony over half of Venecia but Blake had never taken their services or their loyalty for granted. Tindall and Eliza were loyal to the Viceroy. They had to be. They had been given no choice.

There were rumors of agents deeply planted in the bureaucracy of all seven nations, of secret assassination squads. Blake did not know for certain, but he suspected those rumors to be true.

Ambition had come slowly to Blake Pierce, once a satisfied, indolent young man named Terence Sergei Allen, but it had come. Seven men and women before him had discovered that phrygium could be used to power the technology of the ancients, something that the Viceroy in theory approved of and encouraged, but then, succumbing to pride and ambition, all seven had then set themselves against the Viceroy. That, at least, was the story. All seven were now dead and long since forgotten.

When you play a game that you cannot win, Blake thought, stop playing…or change the rules. Thousands of years ago, the commander of what was then the greatest military force ever assembled had said, “If you have a problem that you cannot solve, then make it a bigger problem.”

Blake had done his best to make the problem bigger. It remained to be seen what the Viceroy would do about it.

Available on Here (All Countries) and on Amazon

Towering Flame Final v.3The Towering Flame (The Survivors #1)

From USA Today bestselling author, Robert I. Katz, comes The Towering Flame, the first book in a brand new series, The Survivors.

Once, long ago, the Empire of Mankind spread among the stars, but the Empire fell into civil war and anarchy, leaving every human inhabited world across the galaxy to go its own way.

Today, after two thousand years of isolation, the Viceroy rules over seven nations on one long-abandoned planet. He alone possesses any vestige of the technology left behind by the vanished Empire and he uses it to rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove.

But below the surface, ambitious men are struggling for power and rebellion is simmering.

Terence Allen is the third son of a wealthy father. Terence is satisfied with his life. He has few responsibilities, fewer challenges and little desire to change.

Terence Allen is an unlikely catalyst for rebellion, but Terence’s destiny changes the moment he sees Thierry Jorge Garcia striding toward him one night at the Summer Fair in Varanisi, the Viceroy’s city. Thierry, the heir to a long-standing military tradition, will let nothing keep him from pursuing Irina Archer, the woman he had known and loved as a young man in far-off Cathay, the woman who is now Terence Allen’s fiancée.

The feud that results will have repercussions far beyond the borders of the city, as the seven nations seethe with conspiracies, rumors and strife. A war that has been brewing for over a century is coming, a war that will upend the foundations of both men’s world.

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Antiquarians GuildThe Antiquarians Guild (The Survivors #2)

Twenty years ago, Terence Allen left his father’s home in the city of the Viceroy, and under the assumed name of Blake Pierce, has gained both fame and fortune, first as a wandering ronin, then as a mercenary commander.

Since the king’s death, ten long years before, the nation of Venecia has fallen into chaos, as the smaller city-states strive to maintain independence and the stronger states try to conquer all the rest.

Blake Pierce’s company, Pierce’s Marauders, has entered into a contract to provide security for the city-state of Taverno, which is beset by numerous enemies, the most serious of which is Benedetto Corsi, the Duke of Siena.

But Blake is facing other challenges, some that he knows about, others that he merely suspects.

In far away Fomaut, the Primate and the leader of his armies, Alejandro Garcia, are digging in the ruins of dead cities, seeking the lost technology of the Ancients and preparing for war against their neighbors, while Davida Montoya, the woman Blake loves above all others, is still living in her father’s castle, refusing to join him until his wars are over…which, the way his career is going, may be never.

For Corsi, and his shadowy spymaster, Johannes Stryker, the Kingship of Venecia represents the culmination of their ambitions. For Blake Pierce, rule of Venecia is only one step toward his own secret goal: to free the world of Gault from the heavy-handed tyranny of the Viceroy, who has ruled the world for over 2000 years.

About the Author

Robert I Katz

I grew up on Long Island, in a pleasant, suburban town about 30 miles from New York City. I loved to read from a very early age and graduated from Columbia in 1974 with a degree in English. Not encouraged by the job prospects for English majors at the time, I went on to medical school at Northwestern, where in addition to my medical degree, I acquired a life-long love of deep dish pizza. I did a residency in Anesthesiology at Columbia Presbyterian and spent most of my career at Stony Brook, where I ultimately attained the academic rank of Professor and Vice-Chairman for Administration, Department of Anesthesiology.

When I was a child, I generally read five or more books per week, and even then, I had a dim sense that I could do at least as well as many of the stories that I was reading. Finally, around 1985, with a job and a family and my first personal computer, I began writing. I quickly discovered that it was not as easy as I had imagined, and like most beginning writers, it took me many years to produce a publishable work of fiction. My first novel, Edward Maret: A Novel of the Future, came out in 2001. It won the ASA Literary Prize for 2001 and received excellent reviews from Science Fiction Chronicle, InfinityPlus, Scavenger’s Newsletter and many others.

My agent at the time urged me to write mysteries, as mysteries are supposed to have a larger readership and be easier to publish than science fiction. Since I have read almost as many mysteries as science fiction and fantasy, and since I enjoy them just as much, I had no objection to this plan. The Kurtz and Barent mystery series, Surgical Risk, The Anatomy Lesson and Seizure followed between 2002 and 2009. Reviewers have compared them favorably to Patricia Cornwell and Robin Cook and they’ve received positive reviews from The Midwest Book Review, Mystery Review Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Lady M’s Mystery International, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and many others.

In 2014, I published a science fiction short story, “To the Ends of the Earth in the Deep Blue Sea” on Kindle for Amazon. Since then, I have made all of my previously published novels available for purchase on Kindle and now, in June, 2017 I am about to embark on a new venture. I will be publishing new novels on Kindle, the first of which is entitled The Cannibal’s Feast. It’s a science fiction story of corporate warfare in space. The next, coming out in early 2018, will be another science fiction novel tentatively entitled The City of Dust, a tale set on an abandoned world after the collapse of the First Interstellar Empire of Mankind.

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