Here's a peak at my TBR for January. I have a few review books due this month and I also want to read at least one book for me and at least one book for the Blogger Shame Review Challenge.
What are you reading in January?
The Darkest Torment (Lords of the Underworld #12) by Gena Showalter
Published: June 1, 2016Publisher: HarlequinPages: 512Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he's back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he's unable to withstand the touch of another...and he's quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride—just not his own.
Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she's taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she's plunged into a war between two evils—with a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them...and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart.
But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she'll have to teach him to love...or lose him forever.
Baden reached the keeper of Defeat’s door and knocked hard enough to crack the wood.
Note to self: Buy a new door.
“Coming, coming.” A patter of footsteps rang out and the door swung open, revealing Strider’s mate, Kaia. She greeted him with a dagger in hand, her mass of red hair anchored in pigtails, her eyes bright with fury.
She’s armed…a true threat. Kill her!
Baden did his best to ignore the beast, staring over Kaia’s shoulder. He scanned the room, checking for hidden threats out of habit. Well. Her decorating style could probably be classified as a hoarder died here. “Did you reach your sister?”
“Yep. She’ll meet you at Downfall in an hour.”
“Save your thanks and do me a favor.” She gave the hilt of her dagger a kiss. “Next time you’re with Hades, demand to know each of William’s hideouts.”
The urge to protect suddenly overwhelmed him. Protect William? Or Hades?
Both. Destruction snarled inside his head. They are mine, and I will annihilate anyone who even thinks to harm them.
His mouth watered. Her blood, I’ll taste it. His hands itched. Her bones, I’ll break them.
As a predator, Kaia sensed his intentions and reacted accordingly, crouching, readying for attack.
Rational thought intruded: No, no. Not her.
But Destruction had already pulled back his fist to strike. At the last second, Baden regained a semblance of control, raining the fury upon the wall with punches and kicks.
The beast roared as more and more of Baden’s friends sprinted from their rooms, grabbing hold of him to try to stop him.
They dare try to restrain me?
Again, the beast was able to overtake him, flinging one warrior after another across the hall.
“How do we corral him?” someone shouted.
“Keeley.” Torin’s voice poured over the intercom. “You’re needed in Strider’s room. ASAP.”
“No time. We need Katarina,” a female called. “She calms him, I think.”
A handful of warriors rushed him at once, tackling him to the floor, but again, flinging them away wasn’t difficult. Power expanded his limbs, reinforced his bones. He was able to work his way to his feet.
I might fall, but I’ll never stay down.
A grinning blond stepped into his path. The male named Strider. Killing him would be a pleasure.
Baden screamed at Destruction. He’s my friend. They all are!
“Hey! Over here.” One of the women said, “I’m going to rip you a new asshole—in your face.”
Not my friends, Destruction told Baden as he grabbed her by the neck and lifted her off her feet. Anya. Destruction had made of point of learning the identities of the residents. Know your enemy…
“No!” Lucien shouted, tackling him from behind.
The goddess of Anarchy twined her legs around Destruction’s neck and, as he stumbled, squeezed with surprising strength.
From the corner of his eye, he spotted Katarina and the one named Ashlyn rounding the far corner. Both females stopped to gap at him. He paused, he wasn’t sure why, giving Baden the opportunity to regain a bit of control. Not enough to claim ownership of the body, but enough to slow him down as their wills clashed. He bellowed to the rafters.
“Run, Ash and take the girl with you,” Maddox demanded. “She’s only making him worse.”
Baden and Destruction worked together to pull Anya off their shoulders and drop her. They sidestepped Lucien and stalked to the woman who’d haunted them. The woman who belonged to them. If only for a little while.
“Go!” multiple voices screamed at once. The warriors were giving chase, trying to beat him to the object of his fascination.
Ashlyn attempted to tug Katarina away, but Katarina shook off her hold and stepped forward. Toward him.
The moment she reached him, she framed his face with her delicate hands. He had to crouch to allow the action, which wasn’t exactly a prime position to mount a proper defense—but worth it.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
He drew in a breath, his usually useless lungs suddenly infused by the sweetness of her scent…as if he were coming back to life. “They are threats.”
“Wrong. There are no threats here.”
“They are threats,” he insisted.
She brushed her thumbs over the rise of his cheeks, gentle, so gentle, and yet still the action stung. But he didn’t pull away. The air between them thickened and crackled with awareness. He liked it.
The others stopped their pursuit and maintained a proper distance, whispering with incredulity.
“Is this really happening or am I hallucinating?” someone asked.
“Does the human have a magic hoo-ha?”
“You have a job to do,” Katarina reminded him, ignoring the others. “Why don’t you go do it, and I’ll take care of the threats here?”
He snorted. “You’re not strong enough.”
That earned a raised brow. “So you’ve told me.”
“Dude. Isn’t she married?” Kaia asked.
He snarled at the Harpy, though his gaze remained on Katarina. She’d lost weight and looked more fragile than ever, and yet her beauty took his breath away.
Breath he now needed to survive?
“Baden,” she said.
“Destruction,” he corrected.
“Since he’s affected by you, I’m willing to bet you’re affected by him. Why don’t I call you Baduction?” She smiled at him, inviting him to play with her. “And a hat tip to you. If your newest job is to stare at me, you’ve got it nailed.”
He didn’t know how to play, but he liked seeing her like this. Happy rather than despondent.
He shouldn’t care what she felt. Caring left him vulnerable.
He scowled at her. “Stay out of trouble today.”
“I will, but not because you ordered it. Because I’m a girl and girls are made of—”
“Sugar and spice,” he interjected, remembering the rhyme. Boys were made of snakes and snails.
“Wrong. Girls are made of vodka and ice. The two combined increase our tolerance for masculine nonsense.”
How My Love of Reading Made Me a Mystery Writer
Readers often ask how I came to be a mystery writer. I don’t have to think about my answer: my love of reading combined with a need to see justice prevail paved the way for me. And I haven’t limited my reading to mysteries (although these days, I’m more likely than not to reach for one). My reading history includes the classics, contemporary fiction, romance, biographies, and non-fiction.
In the best fiction, the characters contend with conflict, relationships, romance, family, friendship, and often seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Most stories end on a happy note, with a triumph of the spirit. But not always.
In mysteries, one or more dead bodies heighten the conflict. Justice usually prevails in the end when the bad people are caught and punished. Usually, but not always.
Like many young girls, I was hooked on the adventures of Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls (no dead bodies for those girl detectives, but they sure got themselves in precarious situations). Anne Emery and similar writers wrote about teen life. Their stories of conflict-ridden teenagers (oxymoron?) were especially exciting for a pre-teen. At the age of eleven, I wrote a mystery and read daily installments to my friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick with the craft and it took years to get back to it.
In high school, besides required works like Great Expectations, Beowulf, and Pride and Prejudice, I enjoyed the popular fiction of the day: The Prize, Exodus, Gone with the Wind, If Morning Ever Comes, A Stone for Danny Fisher, and Valley of the Dolls. (I had to hide some of these titles from my mother’s sharp eyes).
In my twenties, I was too busy partying and working long hours to read much, but I did manage to fit in An American Tragedy and Atlas Shrugged. And one day when I stayed home from work with the flu, my mother appeared on my doorstep with chicken soup and a stack of Agatha Christies. I read 13 at Dinner and remain devoted to Dame Agatha to this day.
I moved on to a very eclectic period, with romances (Helen Van Slyke was my favorite) and Susan Howatch’s sagas. I continued with Agatha Christie and Ayn Rand.
Then I entered my classics phase. I took a job near the Los Angeles Public Library and one of my co-workers visited the library during lunch. I went with her one day and discovered book heaven. I started reading, in some cases re-reading, the works of Thomas Hardy, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and Sinclair Lewis, to name a few. Jane Eyre tops my list of favorite classics. Willa Cather was a revelation.
In 1993, I joined a mystery group in Santa Clarita, California. I had never stopped reading Agatha Christie, but other mystery authors were new to me. The group introduced me to Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Anne Perry, Gillian Roberts, and many, many more.
When I moved to Virginia is 1996, I found Women’s Voices, a group that read contemporary fiction by women. Margaret Atwood, Anita Brookner, Louise Erdrich, and Barbara Kingsolver are a few names I can easily recall. On my own, I discovered the joys of John Steinbeck, especially East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath.
I continued to devour mysteries … and started writing them, picking up where I’d stopped years before.
And you’ll find lots of conflict, romance, and mystery in my stories, where justice prevails—but not always the kind you expect.
Murder at the Moonshine Inn by Maggie King
WHEN HIGH-POWERED EXECUTIVE Roxanne Howard dies in a pool of blood outside the Moonshine Inn, Richmond, Virginia’s premiere redneck bar, the victim’s sister enlists Hazel Rose to ferret out the killer. At first Hazel balks—she’s a romance writer, not a detective. But Brad Jones, Rox’s husband, is the prime suspect. He’s also Hazel’s cousin, and Hazel believes in doing anything to help family. Never mind that Brad won’t give her the time of day—he’s still family.
Hazel recruits her book group members to help with the investigation. It’s not long before they discover any number of people who feel that a world without Rox Howard is just fine with them: Brad’s son believes that Rox and Brad were behind his mother’s death; Rox’s former young lover holds Rox responsible for a tragedy in his family; and one of Rox’s employees filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her. The killer could be an angry regular from the Moonshine Inn—or just about anyone who ever crossed paths with the willful and manipulative Rox.
When a second murder ups the ante Hazel must find out who is behind the killings. And fast. Or she may be victim #3.
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