Date Published: May 12, 2020
Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.
To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…
Abby L. Vandiver, also writing as Abby Collette, is a hybrid author who has penned more than twenty-five books and short stories. She has hit both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller list. Her latest cozy series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery, published by Penguin Berkley, is out now, with the second book, A Game of Thrones, coming in March 2021.
Flashing red and blue lights lit up the dark, dreary corner where North Main and Bell streets met. Yellow crime scene tape draped around trees cordoned off the perimeter of the wooden overlook. Floodlights invaded the stillness that surround the falls and voices bombarded my eardrums. I was numb, but not from the cold.
I had panicked once I realized I’d tripped over a body. Not a panic borne from fear, it was because I didn’t know how I could help. What to do. Blowing out a breath, I had to calm myself so I could figure it out.
It was dark and I hadn’t been able to see clearly enough to make a decision. Had the person still been alive? Should I try to start some life saving measures?
Not that I knew any . . .
Should I go get help?
The body hadn’t moved, even after me falling over it.
Not a grunt. Not a moan. Not a whimper.
Feeling with my hands in the dark, I found a face. I leaned in, my face close, to see if I could feel a breath.
I laid my head on its chest to listen for a heartbeat.
I should call for help.
Crap. I’d left my cellphone in my knapsack, sitting on the prep table in the ice cream shop. All I had was my aluminum bowl and scoop, so I started banging them together.
“Help!” I yelled out and hit the scoop on the side of the bowl. “Hey! I need help! Anybody! Somebody help me!”
But all my noise making hadn’t gotten one response. I looked down at the silhouette of Dead Guy and back up to the street. No lights from passing cars. No footsteps crunching in the snow.
I needed to get up the hill to get help.
But the snow was thick and cumbersome, I trudged up at a slow crawl. My foot sinking into the snow with each step forward, my gloves wet and covered with the powder. It seemed to be deeper and heavier the more I tried to get up to the sidewalk. Bent over, hands clawing in the snow up the incline, I was out of breath with heavy legs by the time I made it to the top. Once my feet were planted on the sidewalk, I had to place my hands on my knees to catch my breath and slow my heart before I could go any further.
With what I knew lay at the bottom of the falls, it made the night more ominous. The streets more deserted. The lights more dim.
I looked one way down Bell Street then the other. Not quite sure where I should go to get help. I just knew that I wanted to tell what I knew. Get someone else there with me. Then my eye caught sight of the woven scarf I’d seen on the kid who’d been down the hill with me. With Dead Guy.
I started to grab the scarf but thought better of it. People always come back to where they’d lost their things to find them. The little boy might return. Maybe I’d report the lost item to the police.
The police . . .
I had to call the police. Or an ambulance.
I scurried around the block, past the front of the ice cream shop to the side door and unlocked it. I hastily dumped the contents of my knapsack and had to catch Grandma Kay’s tin recipe box as it tumbled out before it dropped onto the floor. Hands slightly shaky, still breathing hard, I found my phone and pushed in the three numbers.
“911. What’s your emergency?”
I had to make a restroom pit stop to try to collect myself.
I shook my head. There hadn’t been anything I could have done. He hadn’t moved. He hadn’t made a sound. He wasn’t breathing and I didn’t know how long it would be before someone came along to help.
I ran warm water over my hands at the sink, dried them off and started to head back into the kitchen to get my knapsack, and ran right into Felice.
“Hello there, Muffintop, I said and stooped down, running my fingers through her white coat. “How did you get down here?” She looked up at me, fluffed out the end of her tail, then eyes half-closed, she blinked slowly. I picked her up. “You want some kisses, Sweetie?” I said knowing it was me that needed comforting. She rubbed her cheek up against mine. “Thank you.”
Holding her, I walked around to the back area where the stairs led to Rivkah’s apartment, and called up. No answer. “She must still be at the restaurant.” I looked at Felice. “Did you just come down for me? To make me feel better?”
“Mrra,” she said.
I met her forehead with mine, but only for a moment, she didn’t have to be gracious. She jumped out of arms and ran up the steps. I watched as she strutted up, I didn’t know how she’d gotten out. Rivkah never left the door unlocked.
Tonight I was glad she had.
I went over to the prep table and stuffed everything back into my bag, grabbed the bowl and scooper and headed back outside. By the time I got out there, a police cruiser was pulling up in front of the store. The officer got out of the car and walked over to me.
“Are you the person who called 911?” he asked.
“I am,” I said.
“What’s going on?”
I pointed toward the falls. “There’s a guy down there. I think he’s dead.”
Today we have a guest post from Rachel Hailey. Rachel was born and raised in the South. She’s all about that nerd life and in between writing she’s dedicated herself to raising the next generation of nerds. If she’s not online or staring at a book she can usually be found at the local game store rolling dice, shuffling cards, or planning her next cosplay.
Her childhood was most prominently shaped by the works of R.L. Stine, Stephen King, Anne Rice and the Brothers Grimm.
I’ve been in love with monsters since I was a little and got angry when Belle turned the Beast into a boring old prince. As I grew older and more obsessed with fairy tales, I found two genres that truly spoke to my black heart. Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.
These powerhouses rose to popularity fast during the late ’90s, and early 2000s. Those years exploded with amazing stories of dazzling monsters. Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton were among the first and are still synonymous with Urban Fantasy. But around the time Anita was toying with the notion of staking Jean-Claude, Sherrilyn McQueen (Kenyon) introduced us to Acheron and his band of tortured but scorching hot daimon slayers. While Harry rides an undead dino, J.R. Ward first showed us the wicked streets of Caldwell where the Black Dagger Brotherhood protects their race against the Lessening Society.
Anyone who has read a good Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy will agree that there is magic in the ink. But what is the difference between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy? Both include the same elements: mystery, action, adventure, supernatural, and yes, sexy times.
So what are the differences?
All four of these series feature creatures that don’t just lurk in the shadows – they’re at home in the dark. The stories bleed tension, and the only thing higher than the number of pages are the body counts.
With so many similarities, it’s the technical details that define which side of the aisle a book gets shelved.
One of the easiest difference to spot is Point of View. Black Dagger Brotherhood and other Paranormal Romance stories are usually told in third-person, giving readers the full experience by switching perspectives among many characters. Urban Fantasy authors, such as Hamilton and Butcher, rely on first-person, fully immersing readers in the heads and hearts of their protagonists.
As Paranormal Romance series unfolds, they often maintain this same energy with each book centering on a new couple, while in Urban Fantasy a single protagonist continues to shine center stage, no matter how many books follow.
The next difference can be a little tricky to identify. Paranormal Romance are more character-driven. It’s the emotions, the development of the characters, and their relationships that keep us turning pages. The relationships are the main focus. The tension comes from the need to see a couple (or more!) handle their issues and find their happily ever after.
Urban Fantasy, on the other hand, are plot-driven. Investigating the murder, solving the case, saving the world are the defining moments for these tales. That’s not to say relationships aren’t important in Urban Fantasy. Usually, they provide much-needed motivation for the protagonist to get off their ass and do their job or save the world, pushing them to be better, stronger, harder.
This brings us to my next point. Sex. The pages of Paranormal Romance blister fingers and leave readers dry-mouthed, but so too can Urban Fantasy. Usually, the scenes are shorter, less descriptive. The relationships form slowly over books and culminate in a scene that begins scorching and ends with a closed door. (Damn you doors.)
But these rules are often shattered with impunity which continues to leave readers a little confused. Anita arguably has more sex in one book than the entire cast of the Dark Hunter universe, and it’s twice as graphic. There’s also the matter of POV. Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series is told in first person and focuses on the same characters through all seven (wonderful) books. The Night Huntress series is also heavily plot-centric but undeniably falls into the realm of Paranormal Romance.
So what is the difference?
I’ve heard Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy referred to as cousins, but I disagree. I think they’re much closer than that, and deciding where they are listed comes down to opinion.
There’s an ugly side to this – The great disdain the Romance genres garner even within the publishing community. (Which makes no sense as it is the highest-grossing genre. Don’t believe me? Google is free.) Often this contempt leaves agents and authors slapping Fantasy on a book instead of Romance to appeal to a wider audience.
It starts with the cover. They replace the image of the muscled hero with a detailed, gritty image of the heroine holding a blade as she scowls fiercely into the night. I was told recently this was because Urban Fantasy readers are so much choosier about art. But are they really, or is this just another stereotype rooted in the belief that romance readers and authors are somehow less than?
In the end, it doesn’t matter where a book is shelved, or whether the cover has a half-naked man. Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance stories speak to some of the darkest corners of the human soul. Whether you read for the action or the action, remember, genres are labels, and like all labels, they can help or hinder. Don’t be afraid to cross the aisle and reach for a new author. What you find may surprise you.
Dark Paranormal Romance
Date Published: January 18, 2021
Publisher: FyreSyde Publishing
The Sunfire Queen, Sierra, has waited for her chance to rule, thinking life would be better with her mother dead. She was wrong. The Court of Light is in Shambles. Her people are terrified and despise her. She has no friends, no love, and no hope. When a new war hovers on the horizon, Sierra must find the lost beastkyn Mikhail or her court will perish, and she’ll lose her shot at redemption.
Quick to grin and quicker to kill, Mikhail has made his share of mistakes–being imprisoned has given him time to ponder each poor decision. But when Sierra frees him, he earns the opportunity to make some more. She’s gorgeous and despite her fiery nature, as cold as the snow-capped mountains of Russia. He can’t wait to see how fast he can make her melt.
About The Author
Rachel Hailey was born and raised in the South. She’s all about that nerd life and in between writing she’s dedicated herself to raising the next generation of nerds. If she’s not online or staring at a book she can usually be found at the local game store rolling dice, shuffling cards, or planning her next cosplay.
Her childhood was most prominently shaped by the works of R.L. Stine, Stephen King, Anne Rice and the Brothers Grimm.
Mikhail leaned down, giving her plenty of time to turn her head or pull away. The orange specks bloomed in her eyes. He closed the minuscule gap, capturing her lips. They were as soft as rose petals. He stifled a hiss of pleasure as her mouth opened under his, and when his tongue swept over hers, her entire body shuddered, and she moaned.
He deliberately kept his hands where they were, but how they wanted to roam down her body. Too soon, the song ended, and she broke the kiss.
He opened his mouth to apologize, but stopped. He wasn’t sorry about keeping secrets. This was how his life was. Yet, when he looked up and found her brown eyes leveled on him, the scent of sadness rolling through the car, he was sorry this was the life he had to offer.
“How many other secrets are you hiding?” she asked, but not accusingly, more like she was as tired of his issues as he was of hers.
“So, where does that leave us?” Sierra asked, voice low.
He smiled, baring his teeth. “The closest thing to friendship two Kyn royals can have.”
The pink lightkyn made a strangled sound, her back pressed harder against the door. He expected her to disappear into the glass.
Scalded by shame again, his talons shrank. He ran a hand through his hair. None of this was the girl’s fault. He opened his mouth to apologize, but before the first syllable left his lips, she exploded into laughter. The sound was like chiming bells and as lyrical as a child’s rhyme. Although beautiful, it was joyless and manic, the kind of sound the condemned might make as they laughed on their way to the gallows.
Reassessing her threat level, it was his turn to take a step away. Was she dangerous or merely unbalanced? Any creature who laughed like that needed to be handled carefully.
“Are you well?” he asked as the loud peals continued to ring out.
“No, I am most certainly not,” she said between gasps. “Are you?” She collapsed against the door, dropping her injured arm.
Wary of the lightkyn and her bizarre reactions, he shook his head. “No.”
She sobered and looked at him with soulful brown eyes. “I suppose you wouldn’t be. Would you like to come inside?”
“Who are you?”
“Sierra,” he said, tasting the name. It rang with power and depth, matching this girl with wild laughter and sad eyes. “Will you help me escape before the new ruler finds me?”
She smiled, revealing even white teeth, and tilted her head. The last of the sunlight fell across her face like a mask. “I’m afraid it’s too late for that. I am the new Queen of The Court of Light.”
Date Published: November 30th 2020
A tale of two communities learning to live in harmony but will the trust stay strong between them?
After everything they have gone through. Why now? Why this?
Kelpie and Jason grew up in peaceful solitude, at one with nature. Yet when they are forced to move, they are also forced to change. Nevertheless, they grow to appreciate this new life and the harmony between both the human and the fae societies. When the killings start, their tranquillity is threatened and in their midst a well of fear, mistrust and discord has risen.
If she is to survive, she must learn to adjust and be ready for the danger hidden in the shadows. Will the life she fought so hard for fall to pieces? Or will Kelpie and Jason withstand the darkness and escape the misfortune of their troublesome cycle?
Emilie Dallaire was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec and now enjoys her full-time job as a QA Lead in the Gaming Industry. After having the unique opportunity to have her works – ‘My Demon’ and ‘Starved’ – published in the Melting Pot Anthology (compiled by Syndie Beaupre), she has finally been able to switch her attention more to her true passion; writing! The project reignited her deep affection for the written word and gave life back to her childhood dream.
Throughout and since her youth, Dallaire has always had a wild imagination allowing her to be the author she is today. The author likes to unwind with classic Disney movies, video games, anime and photography, that all help her to relax while still stimulating her creative juices. Dallaire adores and is inspired by relatable fiction stories including impelling romances, of which you will often see incorporated into her own works.
The Crone had left me this particular book a few times to read, but I’d avoided it several times. It was a book on different Fae, and the knowledge within was a mixture of factual and assumption. It was everything that had been learned over the years, with some common mistakes mixed into the pot.
I smoothed my fingers down the spine of it, contemplating my options. I wanted to know more about my kind, but the fear that the information would be inaccurate twisted my gut.
“Everything okay?” Jason finished his sweeping and had taken a quick look around the shop for any remaining cleaning before coming to my side. He glanced at the book and slid it out of its place for me, then arched a brow. “She’s been encouraging you to read it.”
“Why haven’t you?”
He was right, of course, but that didn’t settle the nerves twisting my gut.
At least he seemed to acknowledge that and he patted my thigh before slowly getting back up. “Why don’t you take the rest of the day? Decide what you want to do and if you need time alone to read, I can give you that. I’ll send you some coffee from that shop you like.”
“…The pumpkin spice?”
“I’ve told you a million times it’s out of season now.” His grin seemed to quirk at the question, but he wouldn’t laugh. At least, not while I was in the room.
I appreciated that, at the very least. I don’t think I would have been able to stomach his mockery. No, not mockery…I knew better than to label it as such a thing. That was the little voice talking to me. I took the book from him, nodded in thanks, and made my way back upstairs to our home. “Fine, surprise me then, since you know me so well.”
That comment did pull a laugh from him and I couldn’t help but smile. It was a sweet sound to hear from his lips.
Book 1 of The Atlantis Legacy Series
Teens, Young Adult, and all mature readers
Date Published: November 19, 2020
Publisher: Mindstir Media
Trouble is coming…coming by land…coming by sea. Coming for you…and coming for me.
What would you do if you had just prepared a perfect margarita and turned to leave your kitchen only to find a menacing assassin blocking the doorway and his stated intent was to kill you right now?
This is the situation Matt Flannery is confronted with on an otherwise typical Saturday afternoon at his bungalow on Anna Maria Island, Florida.
Who is this mountain of a man? Why is he here? What does he want? And…why me?
This day and this incident begin an unexpected, epic journey for Matt that will not only change his life, but the lives of his friends, family, and possibly…all that live on Planet Earth.
This journey of discovery will take Matt to many destinations in search of answers to his questions. Questions raised many years earlier by his explorer grandfather, James “Irish” Flannery, who Matt idolized. Sailing aboard his beloved charter fishing vessel, the Nice Catch, Matt sets out with his girlfriend Kelli, fellow seeker Lucien, and close friend Jake in search of solutions to the perplexing problems and fresh dangers that continually present themselves. The action moves in a frantic and tightening spiral that always threatens to be the undoing of our intrepid crew.
Come meet the ever-evolving cast of characters who play a part in this thrilling story and discover, along with Matt, what the real story behind the story is.
Are you ready to board the Nice Catch and take part in this stirring saga? Just keep telling yourself that “it is only a story…isn’t it?”
“Larry Hamilton keeps the intensity dialed up in critical mass, the second book of his Atlantis Legacy Series. With all the elements every good thriller needs like secrets to unravel, double-crosses, murky government types, and plenty of fireworks, he leaves you very few spots to catch your breath. Courage and loyalty face-off against greed and power reaching a climax that will leave you on your own search for the next installment.”
#1 Amazon Bestselling Author
I’m insane! Just kidding again. Forgive me…
I have been a voracious reader since my earliest childhood. Words and books became a window to the wider world for me as I grew up in poverty in the hills of Appalachia in Eastern Kentucky. So I traveled the world in the county library which was free and held unlimited mystery and exotic locations for me to sample. I used to climb the nearby hills and look to the other side in the hopes of seeing a harbor or great city. As a result, I have always loved words. Unlike video, books were interactive and required me to create the pictures the writer was trying to paint. So, I became accustomed to doing so. As I grew into adulthood, I felt the itch to try to create something meaningful with words. But, I had no formal training or encouragement to do so and I also had jobs, businesses, and families to take care of. So writing stayed on the backburner. But as I reached my 50’s, the urge to write began to resurface and I had more time and means to do so. That is why I began writing. So why write these books about these subjects?
I have always had a strong interest in the things we don’t fully understand or know as human beings…yet. Every time our scientists make a great physics discovery for example, it seems to bring into question everything they thought they knew. And they start over in their quest for true understanding. I actually love it when that happens. The mysterious unknown feeds our sense of wonder and gives us more windmills to tilt at. Humans love it. It’s what drives us and fuels us. The urge to know and see what is over that next hill. The Atlantis Legacy Series incorporates all of this. Ancient histories of this planet that are still slowly coming to light. The question of Who are We? and Why are we Here? are fundamental to everyone. New things are being unearthed, so to speak, every day. Both on the planet and off the planet. By Book 3 of this series, we will be examining all of these great unknowns and what mankind would do if our origin and place in the universe is not exactly what we have been told it is. Ultimately, I want to take the reader on this search for discovery in a fun, adventurous way but also address these great mysteries that are becoming more apparent with each new discovery. I guess I wrote these books for myself and trust they find like-minded readers who will share this thrilling ride with me. It is my life’s dream.
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