2018/01/17

THE DEMON DELIVERANCE by Victoria Danann

THE DEMON DELIVERANCE
Knights of Black Swan, Book 12
by Victoria Danann

Genre: Paranormal Romance


Choices always come with consequences.

If you force a demon to agree to a deal under duress, the day will come when you’ll regret it.
Sixt was a witch nursing a centuries-long grudge of a scorned woman.

Deliverance had been a slave to sex for so long he could barely remember life before. When he learned the compulsion that was a never ending itch was caused by an addiction curse, he was elated because hexes can be reversed. But happiness was short lived when he learned what he’d have to do for the witch who cast the spell.


Deliverance remained motionless while he processed what he’d just learned. The witch was inexperienced in matters of romance and she might have an infatuation that had lingered over a passage of time that was noteworthy even for a demon. 

Perhaps his plan was due for a little tweaking. Perhaps he could pretend to tolerate his captivity, draw the witch out, even give the appearance of liking her. Gag. Perhaps she would open up like a moon magnolia at midnight, giving him all the information he would need to arrange for her eventual comeuppance. 

Once he’d settled on a course adjustment, he stepped around the corner and into the room as if he’d just arrived.

Sixt looked up. “Oh, Deliverance. I won’t be needing you tonight.”

The demon’s eyes slid from Sixt to Harm, who said, “You’re welcome to join us. Maybe a game of whist?”

Sixt wished they were seated at a table so she could kick her brother in the shin. 

“Not much for cards,” Deliverance said. There was no reason not to be polite to the witch’s brother. 

“Wine then?” Harm pressed. 

The demon kind of liked Harm in spite of himself and smiled slightly. “Thank you for the offer. I don’t drink often and tonight’s not the night.”

“Well, I don’t want you to feel unwelcome just because I’ve barged in on my sister.”

“Unwelcome?” Deliverance looked at Sixt like he’d love to throw a fireball and incinerate her where she sat. “Why does he think I’m here?”

“He knows the whole story.” Sixt looked away as she raised her wine glass to her lips.

“In that case,” Deliverance said to Harm, “you should know it’s senseless to ask a slave if he feels welcome.”

“But we can always make the best of a situation, old man. Just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street,” Harm said.

Deliverance looked at Sixt. “Is he serious?”

“We’ve been out of touch for a very long time. I’m not sure.”

To Harm, he said, “It’s easy to have a sunny disposition when you’re the master,” his eyes slid to Sixt, “or the mistress, in this case, and not the slave. If that’s all, I’ll be somewhere else.” He managed to refrain from adding, “Anywhere else.”

“Yes. That’s all,” said Sixt and the demon disappeared.

Harm chuckled and shook his head. “If you think that demon is coming around to your way of thinking, you have lost your way.”

“I don’t think I have much choice but to ride this out. Maybe cosmic intervention…”

“Cosmic intervention,” he repeated. “You ever heard of magical thinking?”

“Not the specific phrase, but I can guess what it means.”

“No, you can’t. It’s a human term for what adolescents do when they choose to believe, without logical basis, that things will ‘magically’ go their way.”

“Is there a point forthcoming? Because I’m going to bed…”

“Hold on to your patience. This absolutely applies to your situation and you know it. Your belief that any good can come from forcing that demon to be where he doesn’t choose to be is the very definition of magical thinking.”

“We’ll see.” 

“Yeah? Well, I hope that when we ‘see’, you’re still in one piece.”






Victoria Danann is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty romances. For the past four years in a row, Victoria's Knights of Black Swan series have won prestigious Reviewers' Choice Awards for both BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES and PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR. This past year three of her series and three of her novels were nominated. Two of her series took the top two places and two of her books took first and second place in the PNR Novel of the Year category.

In addition to vampire hunting knights, Victoria writes other paranormal romance, scifi, fantasy, and contemporary romance.

Victoria co-hosts the popular ROMANCE BETWEEN THE PAGES podcast which can be found on itunes or at → www.romancecast.com

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2018/01/15

Claiming His Mountain Bride by Madison Faye

 


Release Blitz
Title: Claiming His Mountain Bride
Author: Madison Faye
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Coverlüv
Photog: Sara Eirew
Release Date: January 15, 2018
 
My mountain. My cabin. My woman – she just doesn’t know it yet.
I left civilization and my demons a long time ago, seeking solitude up on Blackthorn mountain. Just one ex-marine, a remote cabin, and the wilderness, with no distractions.
But then she turns up, blowing in with a winter’s blizzard like a very fucking big distraction.
Blonde, beautiful, and mouthy as all hell, even when I save her from freezing that sweet little ass off.
A rough mountain man like me should want nothing to do with a rich little city girl like Katrina. Except one look at her sweet, tempting curves, and one taste of those sassy, pouty lips, and I want everything to do with her.
I saved her from freezing, but maybe it’s her who’s going to save my frozen heart.
We’re trapped up here for the storm, locked in a cabin with only the heat between us to keep us warm. Her wealthy, city family thinks they can marry her off to some rich little shit. But they’re verywrong.
My mountain. My cabin. My woman.
I’ll make Katrina my bride, and I’ll be damned if I let them take her from me.
       

AMAZON

   
#1 bestselling contemporary romance author Madison Faye is the dirty alter ego of the very wholesome, very normal suburban housewife behind the stories. While she might be a wife, mom, and PTA organizer on the outside, there’s nothing but hot, steamy, and raunchy fantasies brewing right beneath the surface! Tired of keeping them hidden inside or only having them come out in the bedroom, they’re all here in the form of some wickedly hot stories. Single-minded alpha hero, sinfully taboo relationships, and wildly over-the-top scenarios. If you love it extra dirty, extra hot, and extra naughty, this is the place for you! (Just don’t tell the other PTA members you saw her here…) Join the mailing list for author updates, special prices, and TWO free starter-library books! http://eepurl.com/b-b5Pz

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MAGGIE series by Mya O'Malley

MAGGIE series
Maggie, Naomi, and Entangled Souls
by Mya O'Malley

Genre: Paranormal Romantic Mystery Thriller



Have you ever wondered what it would be like to share your home with an unearthly spirit who can’t find closure? Living on the edge of a cemetery with souls dating back to the 1700s would be enough to spook anyone, but Naomi finds it oddly romantic, and becomes inspired to write her next novel. Why not, when her muse, Maggie, calls to her from beyond her own window?

After all, the story couldn't possibly be as complicated as Naomi's own love life. Torn between Ryan, the mysterious and seemingly perfect man she just started dating, and Bryce, the sexy single dad who recently moved in next door, Naomi must navigate the tangled web of dating—all while trying to solve the mystery of Maggie's death.

When things turn dangerous, Naomi quickly learns whom she can trust and, more importantly, whom she can’t. Will she be able to write Maggie’s story and finally give Maggie the peace she deserves?


Naomi sighed as she thought about the outcome of Maggie’s story. Her body had been found washed up near the river. Awful. What a horrible thing. The location of the body had been a place where people walked along a path by the river. Naomi herself had been close to the crime scene many times, unaware of the traumatic events that had taken place there. 

No clues, other than it appeared to be a drowning. Evidence pointed to Maggie going out on a friend’s boat, perhaps, and falling overboard. 

But how?

And where was the friend? It didn’t make sense. A piece of this puzzle was missing; a rather large piece. 

A cold mystery was all that was left of Maggie’s story. 

Come on, come on. Maggie. Talk to me. Tell me what happened to you. What kind of girl were you? 

A sudden screech sounded from the window. Zelda. How was she supposed to concentrate on writing when Zelda kept intruding with her unpredictable behavior? She needed to write Maggie’s story. It was calling to her. If she didn’t write the story, she wouldn’t be able to write anything else. 

Cries filled the air. This was ridiculous. Naomi wouldn’t even waste her time trying to figure out the cat’s problem. “You’re a piece of work, you know that?” Zelda cried out in response. Now the cat had broken her concentration. 

Naomi needed to get out and clear her mind. She grabbed her notebook and her jacket from the hook in the entrance foyer. 

Once she was out of the house and down the narrow path heading into the graveyard, she turned around. It wasn’t surprising to see Zelda pacing back and forth on the windowsill. Crazy. 

After walking around for a few minutes, she was pulled toward Maggie’s grave once more. 

“Maggie, tell me your story. I’m listening.” Naomi didn’t actually expect to hear a response, but she knelt down and listened. She strained to hear the slightest sound, anything at all that would open up this mystery. 

Of course, she heard nothing. 

Nothing but the faraway sound of cars passing down the one-way street adjacent to the cemetery, then the faint cry of a crow overhead. Lifting her head to the darkening sky above, Naomi could have sworn the crow was staring right at her. Was she in the middle of her own eerie dream? Brushing off the uneasy feeling, Naomi shook her head and sat in the grass. 

“Was it your ex? Was it a stranger? Or was your death your own doing?” Naomi’s fingers touched the cold stone, running up and down the gravestone. A sharp crackling from behind caused Naomi to spin around. There was nobody there. 

Naomi would have sworn she heard someone. Perhaps it had been a darting squirrel or other small animal. Her attention returned to Maggie’s grave once more. Call it a gut feeling, but Naomi was convinced there was foul play at work here. It could be her overactive writer’s imagination, but instinctively she knew Maggie had been killed by someone. 

Most likely someone close to her. Wasn’t that usually the story? 

More determined than ever to solve this crime, Naomi stood up and brushed her pants off. She leaned over and spoke directly to Maggie’s headstone. 

“I will figure this out, girl. Just give me some time. I’ll find out who was responsible for this and you’ll give me my story. How does that sound? Fair?” 

The sound came from the woods this time. Whatever was creating the sound remained hidden.




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Naomi has a knack for attracting attention from ethereal beings—whether she wants it or not. Newly engaged to her sexy neighbor, Bryce, she has little time to celebrate and plan for her upcoming wedding, because no sooner does she wrap up a heartbreaking cold case than she finds herself right back where she started, searching for answers alongside ghostly spirits.

This time, however, Naomi learns that things are not what they seem as a man from her past quickly becomes her worst nightmare. If she’s not careful, this man might crush her hopes and dreams forever as he proves to be her most difficult opponent yet.

Still, Naomi tries to focus on her relationship with Bryce. Can it withstand head games and cruel intentions? Naomi makes it her mission to keep Bryce and his daughter safe from harm, but will true love be tough enough to withstand her adversaries?

Naomi must keep her eyes wide open and question everything— and everyone—in order to survive.

She sensed it before she heard the news. She could feel it deep in her bones. All night long she had tossed and turned, unable to find sleep. 

Nick.

“No,” Naomi wailed into her pillow, pounding her fists. 

No. But, of course, she knew it was true. After all, she had a sixth sense about things such as this. Damn, Nick. Why? How?

It had been several months since she had taken in his disheveled form, those cowardly eyes scanning her face, pleading for forgiveness from the other side of the depressing, stained, plastic divider at the county jail. 

Forgiveness that was difficult to give, although she had been working on it. Too late, Nick. It’s way too late for you now. Part of Naomi’s heart ached for Nick’s troubled soul. For the troubled child he had once been. 

Another part turned cold as she conjured up his face in her mind. As she had woken from a fitful night’s sleep, the image of Nick crying out, lost in the empty dark place where challenged souls lacked peace and closure, was too overwhelming to dismiss as a bad dream. 

“Bryce.” Naomi spoke his name aloud, even though her fiancé was most likely sound asleep at his house just up the dirt road. 

She needed Bryce. 

But Naomi knew Bryce would have to wait. Right after her first cup of coffee, she would have to call Officer Marty to confirm the facts of what she already knew to be true. 

How had it happened? Possibilities swirled through her mind. Endless scenarios came forth. It could be anything. Nick had been doing time for his part in the cover-up of Maggie Field’s death. Prisons could be dangerous, particularly for someone like Nick, a man who struggled to keep his emotions in check and often had difficulty conforming to the rules. 

One with a dark, menacing presence. 

One with attitude. 

Memories of the not so distant past slammed Naomi. Images of Ryan and Maggie . . . 
Maggie. 
The ghost that had all but consumed her. Maggie had reached out to Naomi, demanding peace. Naomi admitted to herself that she had become obsessed at that time in her life. Preoccupied with putting both Maggie and Ryan to rest. Luckily, Bryce was loyal and patient to the core during the first hectic months of their new relationship. 

What would he say now, knowing that a spirit was back? Knowing that this time it wasn’t the sweet spirit of a girl named Maggie or a quirky, kindhearted man that needed her help? 

This time it was worse, far worse. 

This time the spirit was unsettled, tortured—and to make matters even more daunting . . . 

He was her ex-boyfriend. 

Would Bryce be as understanding about Nick as he had been with Maggie and Ryan? Hopping up out of her bed to make her cup of coffee, Naomi figured she was about to find out. 

***

Moments after she hung up the phone with her friend, Officer Miriam Marty, Naomi reached for her coffee mug but then placed it back on the counter with a gentle thud. 

Damn, Nick. 

Miriam had confirmed Naomi’s worst suspicions and provided the bare facts surrounding Nick’s death. 

He was, indeed, dead. But the strange thing about it was that it appeared to have been intentional on his part. It was too early to say, but Miriam suspected that traces of drugs would be found in his system.

An overdose? Could he have intentionally taken his own life? No, that didn’t sound right. Then again, how well did Naomi even know Nick anymore? For that matter, how well had she ever known him? Naomi supposed it was easy enough for an inmate to have the means to obtain drugs. And, let’s face it, prison life could be grueling. 

No, no. Something didn’t feel right about this. Nick’s sentence was only to last just a few more weeks, why would he purposely harm himself? As Naomi tried to make sense of the news, she paced the floor. Zelda, her loyal feline companion, weaved in and out of her legs as Naomi stopped and grabbed her coffee mug from the table. 

Sharp rapping on the door startled Naomi, causing her to spill her coffee on her blouse. “Shoot!” 

Voicing her own displeasure at nearly being stepped on, Zelda screeched as she tore into the living room. Naomi snatched a napkin, wiping at her top as she made her way to the door. 

“Are you ready?” Bryce raised an eyebrow as Naomi stepped to the side to allow him through the front door. He leaned over and placed a quick kiss on her forehead. 

“Ready?” 

“Ah, yes. Remember? We were going to grab a bite and then head over to the trail for a walk?” 

Yes. That’s right. She and Bryce had plans this morning. With everything going on, she had clearly forgotten. 

“I . . . I’m so sorry. Give me a minute to change my shirt. Sit, I’ll be right back.” She scurried up the stairs to her bedroom to change. This could be a good thing, the time alone with Bryce. His young daughter, Holly, was in school, and she could have Bryce’s full attention. 

Dressed in a clean shirt, Naomi sprinted down the stairs and grabbed her sneakers. She attempted her best smile as she tied the laces. “Almost ready,” Naomi managed.

“What’s with you? Why are you out of breath?” Bryce cocked his head as he studied Naomi. 

“Just excited to spend the morning with you,” she offered a bit too cheerily, glancing up at him as she felt nagging guilt rise in her throat. He wouldn’t be happy about the news regarding Nick, and that was putting it mildly. He simply couldn’t even begin to understand. He would tell her to leave it alone, not to get caught up in somebody else’s problems. 

Naomi swallowed hard and gripped Bryce’s warm hand as they made their way to his truck. Once inside, Naomi glanced at her fiancé and then gazed down at her lap. 

“Bryce?” she whispered. 

Concern etched his handsome face. “What is it? What’s wrong?” He reached for her hands. 

“We need to talk.”






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ENTANGLED SOULS

coming late 2018

If Naomi thought solving three murders was going to earn her a respite from the spirits who flock to her for guidance and resolution, she couldn't have been more wrong. This time around, helping her friend, Officer Miriam Marty, solve a particularly daunting case is just the beginning.

Newly married to her soul mate, Bryce, Naomi figured she could settle in and enjoy the first few months of marriage without the all-consuming task of helping the spirits around her find the closure they so desperately seek. She should have known there was no chance of normalcy, though - even her stepdaughter Holly's quirky friend, Lillie, adds to the confusion.

This time, Naomi's challenge is unique. Not only does she have to put her heart and soul into helping an intricate, beautiful ghost, but this precious soul soon teaches Naomi that her path in life, her fate, has led her to precisely where she needs to be.

Everything about Naomi's past experiences with the paranormal crashes together as Naomi becomes entwined in the entangled plot that has become her life, alongside the unique souls that complete her destiny.



Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and step-daughters. The family also consists of a boxer named Destiny and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.

Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her eleventh novel.

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2018/01/14

Re/Captured (Doms of the FBI 7) by Michele Zurlo





Re/Captured (Doms of the FBI 7)

Keith and Katrina are back! Reader favorites Keith Rossetti and Katrina Legato from Re/Paired (Doms of the FBI 2) return for another emotional, sexy, and dangerous adventure.
Blurb:


When a day helping out at Legal Aid puts Katrina in the crosshairs of a serial killer bent on sending his version of romantic gifts, life starts to spiral out of control. Not only is she trying to plan her wedding, but work and home life are increasingly hectic.


Keith has doubts about Kat and the reasons she keeps postponing the wedding, so he sets out to recapture her heart. Meanwhile, the serial killer’s obsession with Katrina only grows—threatening her entire family.


Sacrifices must be made, but can love help them survive the fallout?


Warnings: BDSM, anal sex, D/s

BUY LINKS


 PG Excerpt 1:

Understanding Keith’s message—he’d wanted to put her mind at ease with regard to the children so that she could focus on submitting to him—she lowered her gaze. “Can I have ten minutes to put my bag away and freshen up?”


“Yes. I set out what I want you to wear.” His voice washed through her senses, overpowering her with peace and excitement.


“Thank you.” Briefcase in hand, she turned to follow his instructions.


“Kitty Kat.”


The unspoken order halted her. She turned back to him. “Yes?”


“I want a kiss.”


Closing the distance she lifted her face. He caressed her cheek with one hand and wrapped the other around her waist to support her lower back, two points of contact only. His lips brushed hers, teasing at a third point. He massaged, a gentle pressure welcoming her home and to her role as his submissive.


Slave to his mastery, she sighed into it, dropping her briefcase and lifting her arms to twine them around his neck, and she pressed her chest to his. He deepened the kiss, plunging his tongue deep to taste and stab. The hand on her cheek slid into her hair, and the one on her back lowered to squeeze her ass. She forgot about everything. The stresses of her day fell away as she melted in the face of his demand.


He broke away to trail sucking kisses down her neck, stopping when the collar of her dress shirt got in his way. “Go,” he said. “Take your ten minutes, and then you’re mine.”


PG Excerpt 2:

“Put your dress on. Tell me how you look.”


Though he couldn’t see it, she parked her hand on her hip. “Keith, this is highly inappropriate, and it’s bad luck.” Her pulse raced. Though she thought of the wedding as a formality, she couldn’t help but get a little excited for the actual event.


His husky chuckle crackled through the phone. “I don’t believe in bad luck, and I can’t masturbate to mental images of you in that dress if I don’t know what it looks like.”


Her fake chagrin melted. She whispered her reply. “You want to masturbate to mental images of me in a wedding dress? That’s weird. You have actual pictures of me wearing lingerie.” He also had a picture of her pussy that he refused to delete. Good thing his phone was password and fingerprint protected.


“I like those pictures.” His voice dropped as the Dom in him asserted itself. “But, Kitty Kat, the wedding dress says unequivocally that you belong to me. Nothing is sexier than that.”

Her breath caught at his tone. “You’re such a romantic.”


“How about a picture?”


“Nope.” She smiled as she refused him. “I’m not bending on this. You can’t see my dress before the wedding.”


“At least tell me what the neckline looks like. And how long is the skirt? What are you wearing under it?”


She laughed. “No clues. You’ll have to wait.”


“Tease.”


“A tease would send you pictures of random dresses.”


Reviews for Re/Paired

"Wow. This book was so freaking hot!! [Re/Paired] has great balance....heavy on the romance with enough suspense to keep it interesting and that's how I like it."--Under the Covers Book Blog


5 Stars/Purest Delight from Guilty Pleasures:
"This was a great read with a damaged Dom who learns to cherish his sub, a lot of hot BDSM action, suspense, and complex relationships"



If you haven't yet enjoyed Re/Paired, you can pick it up here:
 
 

 
BUY LINKS



2018/01/13

Goddess of the Wild Thing by Paul DeBlassie III

Let nature and the elements be your guide as we introduce you to Goddess Of The Wild Thing! 

 
 
 
Paul De Blassie III
Goddess of the Wild Thing is a dramatic tale of one woman’s spiritual journey where magical happenings, unexpected turns of fate, and unseen forces influence her ability to love and be loved. Eve Sanchez, a middle-aged woman and scholar of esoteric studies, encounters a seductive but frightening man who introduces her to a supernatural world in which the wicked powers of a surrogate mother’s twisted affection threaten love and life. In the mystic realms of Aztlan del Sur, Eve and three friends struggle with whether bad love is better than no love and discover that love is a wild thing.



Paul De Blassie III
 
 
 
 
Paul De Blassie III
Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D. is a depth psychologist and award-winning writer living in his native New Mexico. He specializes in treating individuals in emotional and spiritual crisis. His novels, visionary thrillers, delve deep into archetypal realities as they play out dramatically in the lives of everyday people. Memberships include the Author’s Guild, the Depth Psychology Alliance, the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, and the International Association for Jungian Studies. 


His other award winning book: 
Paul De Blassie III
A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, "The Unholy" is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.



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Books On Fire Tours:  This was a difficult read. Not because it was a bad story. On the contrary. It was mind blowing! It was difficult because it messed with one's mind in the most clever and effective way, which only a Pscychologist can do. So what is it about? 
Eve and her friends use yoga and other spiritual means to help them navigate life when it gets tricky, and the often elusive thing called love. Debating whether or not bad love is better than no love at all, they go through life's ups and downs together. Yet when Eve meets a man called Sam, who has potential, evil lurks and causes havoc in her life. An epic battle between good versus evil ensues between her and Sweet Mary, and in the process she finds her true self. BUT, there is so much more and as a reader you can only wonder what is real and not real.
Many people will complain about the lack of dialogue on this novel, but it is rich in back stories and information vital to the development of the plot. This book is not only filled with mystical and magical, but paranormal, metaphysical and occult elements. Essentially a great read for horror/ thriller fans, those who like a little romance will also enjoy this read.  Because it catered to all my needs as a reader, I give this book 5 stars. 

"Paul DeBlassie III has an extraordinary ability to pull the reader into his mythical world, and the special effect depictions drawn within my mind while reading *Goddess of the Wild Thing *could easily match up with some of the most gruesome of horror stories on film. He transports you through an amazing spiritual journey exploring the power of fate and love. Packed with action, suspense and even romance, Dr. DeBlassie has written a truly brilliant and riveting supernatural story!” ~ Tamara Ferguson, international, multi-award-winning author"

"Paul DeBlassie III has a wicked gift in writing psychological thrillers, and he does it in a way I have never experienced before. In *Goddess of the Wild Thing*, he gave me a glimpse into his reflections, inviting me to draw closer to the dark side. His writing is rich with supernatural symbolism and, when all is resolved, deeply empowering.” ~ Uvi Poznansky, artist and award-winning author

“*Goddess of the Wild Thing* by Paul DeBlassie III brilliantly couples his in-depth knowledge of the human mind and behavior with his love of lore, imaginatively knitting a deeply psychological and esoteric story that will keep you turning the page. I could picture clearly the fantastical sense of place . . . a must-read magical tale.” ~ Luna Saint Claire, author of *The Sleeping Serpent*

"Dr. DeBlassie, author of the multiple-award-winning *The Unholy*, produced another novel with depth, action, and spirit in *Goddess of the Wild Thing*. For centuries we’ve struggled with whether bad love is better than no love. In this paranormal thriller, a fierce woman tackles the question with determination and fire.” ~ Rayna Noire, author of the *Pagan Eyes Series*


 




The stone altar was used by Eve and company to conjure natural energies of earth, air, fire, and water. Tonatzé symbolized feminine strength and ancient powers. Around the altar, the four women entered mystic states with intuitive inspirations and visions. The four mestizas frequently gathered at midnight, when the full moon shone most lustrously. They held hands, sipped their whiskeys, and inhaled magic herb. Soon the image of the Goddess flickered in rhythm with their soft singing under the light of the high-desert moon.  Chant and trance conjured natural magic. They yielded to relaxation, reverie, and trust in one another and the natural world.

Descending into a meditative state, they were whisked from one world to the next. On slips of paper, they quietly wrote their worries, dilemmas, trials, and tribulations.

Seeking answers and relief, they placed the folded papers in a granite bowl before the altar. They lit a match. Paper burned.  Silence wrapped its arms around the four. Gentle breezes stirred. Hoots of distant and nearby owls carried through the nighttime atmosphere. Flames from the granite bowl rose three feet and abruptly expired, devoured by darkness.

The ritual of fire fortified the coven, foul happenstance and unexpected hazard averted, all save one kind.  Man trouble waited for Eve like a demonic jack-in-the-box, head bobbing and grinning. Muscles up and down her back tightened. It was this that caused her to flee into denial, the thought of time wasted, mind and body pained. The desire to talk, confide in her friends about misgivings about Sam, the last worst guy ever, fled like alley cats into a lonely night. Denial made everything go away—and stay gone—better than a couple of vodkas on the rocks on a chilly evening.  

A white cab edged out of the alleyway bordering the cantina. It pulled stealthily alongside Eve. She bent down and looked through the smudged passenger window. She wanted to make sure she knew the cabbie. Past midnight was no time to be in a trusting mood.   

Paul De Blassie III


***

 At three a.m., the proverbial witching hour of Aztlan, Sweet Mary left her apartment for the gathering of Las Brujas Malas, deep in the crumbling limestone edifice of vicious spirits. The condemned downtown limestone church, once a prosperous enclave of the Ecclesia Dei, had long been  abandoned. It sat adjacent to Sweet Mary’s bedroom, badly stained by gray and black soot.    

Putrid odors of the cursed underworld that lay beneath its unhallowed edifice, curled through the atmosphere surroundingthe decaying structure. 

Sweet Mary wound her way past the fenced and barbed wired blockade that deterred homeless souls and nighttime vandals. Her lithe frame smoothly squeezed between the slightly ajar, chained doors. She walked over the toppled wooden pews and stone statues littering the concrete flooring from the back of the church to its altar.

The religious artifacts had been defaced by those news media referred to as sledgehammer-wielding lunatics claiming clerical abuse as children.

She quipped to herself, Religion mocks, uses, and abuses. Nothing new under the black sun.

She opened a narrow side door that led to a rusted iron spiral staircase. Into the haunted and torch-lined basement that stretched thirty feet beneath the surface, she stepped. At the final stair, she touched bare earth.

Torches were lit along a cave of mirrors, shards embedded in the walls,  shattered remnants taken from the homes of victims who had defamed Las Brujas.

Anyone who dared speak ill of the brujas ended the day tormented, injured, or maimed. Crises happened. One second they were safe, the next mowed down by an out-of-control car, or mugged and cut, or worse, lured in by a soft and sexy vixen loaded with a nasty biological curse. Mirrors confiscated from homes during nighttime raids reflected the victim’s horrified face when doom struck. Sweet Mary hurried past the legions of rats scampering away from her every step into the cracks and crevices of the century-old limestone structure. 

An unavoidable eyesore at the heart of one the most decayed areas of the often sinister downtown Aztlan del Sur. It was a meeting . In this haunted zone, Sweet Mary presided over the witches of black magic. They knew how to spot love, taint love, kill love. It’s what bad mothers did. It’s what Las Brujas did. It’s what Sweet Mary did—because what had been received must be given.

No one knew where they gathered. Evil demanded hiddenness. Street-smart folk and fear-ridden church folk knew them as Las Brujas Malas, the foulest of witches, not to be crossed. Even those who suspected the whereabouts of their lair dared not cross the street to look at the unholy building, now a crumbling religious edifice.

The witches met at the mouth of a deserted tunnel, which in former years led to the secret chapel of the reigning archbishop, who there entertained a bevy of female devotees. Las Brujas, the four desert urban witches, walked down the twenty-foot descent. Hard-pack dirt sloped gently into the entrance of the unhallowed region of the chapel that had become the accursed cave of Las Brujas.

They moved forward, into the mouth of the cave.

Paul De Blassie III

*** 

But here Eve was, paralyzed. Waves of gurgling and quicksand were no metaphor. Agitation could turn bad to worse. Eve clutched harder for a stable mind. It was a torment, nearly impossible not to panic. She gritted her teeth, tightened her mental hold. Gently, millimeter by millimeter, she managed to raise her right hand. Mud offered no resistance. She raised her right forearm out of the hungry maw of dirt and grit. She grabbed hold of a desert oak’s dropping branch. It held firm. Five fingers clutched like a vise. She lifted her left arm and hand. Inch by inch, she loosened her torso from the deadly mud. Low-lying olive tree branches gave steadier purchase.  Relief. 

Memories of circling sparrows, an ancient warding against fated demise, provided a moment’s comfort. She pulled upward. Branches did not snap or break. They were supple. Evenly, she pulled with breath after concentrated breath. She gazed toward the sky. There were no sparrows overhead. The silence felt unnerving. 

The sky shifted, turquoise bright turned to leaden gray. The desert olive branch snapped. Eve screamed and dropped. She sank to her shoulders. Quicksand lapped up past her chin, grains of sand forming crusts along her lips. 

Clenching her teeth, she was grateful her mind hadn’t snapped along with the branch. Wits kept panic at bay. 

Dying wasn’t a concern, survival was. It was the getting there that mattered—how it happened, how she did it. She detested the thought of dying by a witch’s curse, slipping into an underworld of final breaths and mud-loaded lungs. If she went down into the belly of the abyss and the mouth of a soul-famished witch, she’d do it on her terms. Middle finger out.


Paul De Blassie III


 
 
 
Book trailer with the Author's choice of music to listen to his book.