GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ I Smell Sheep: February 2020

Thursday, February 27, 2020

New Release: The Last Unforgiven: Cursed (Demons #4) by Marina Simcoe

The Last Unforgiven: Cursed (Demons #4)
by Marina Simcoe
February 27, 2020
131 pages
Every villain has a backstory.
A millennium is a dreadfully long time to walk the Earth, and memories that last a lifetime are doubly cursed for Raim, the longest-serving Grand Master.
Unlike the rest of the Incubi, he doesn’t get the oblivion of Deep Sleep. Instead, he lives through every day of each century, with vivid memories that torment him throughout the endless ages…
Of her, the only woman who ever stirred feelings in his heart.
Of him, the only Incubus who ever had his complete trust.
Of their betrayal, and the way he lost them both…

Every villain has a backstory.
This one is Raim’s.

Warning: The Last Unforgiven: Cursed is not a Romance. It’s the backstory of a villain. There is no HEA. He hasn’t earned it. Not yet.
Intended for mature readers.
About the Author:
Marina Simcoe likes to write love stories with characters who may or may not be entirely human. She
firmly believes that our contemporary world could use a little bit of the extraordinary!
She has lots of fun exploring how her out-of-this-world characters with their own set of beliefs, values
and aspirations fit into our everyday life.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Double Sheep Book Review: Hunted by the Dragon (Black Sky Dragons Book 1) by Addison Carmichael + giveaway

February 1, 2020
407 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
A real fire-breathing Dragon? 

When the questionable cellphone photo of a flying black reptile is splashed over the internet, online news reporter Crystal Logan ventures to the small town of Winchester to find out just how real this alleged sighting is. If her suspicions prove accurate, this will be the discovery of a lifetime, and the answer to a heartbreaking nightmare that has plagued Cryss for over a decade. 

* * * 

In the Black Sky Mountains of Colorado, Sheriff Derek Reaves has worked hard to maintain his quiet rural life. Now thanks to a paranoid tourist who swears she spotted a fairytale monster, hundreds of crazy supernatural and alien seekers are flooding Winchester for their own encounter of the bizarrest kind. 

Unfortunately, one beautiful news lady is a lot savvier, nosier and tenacious than all the others. If he’s not careful, Cryss Logan may very well uncover the dangerous secret Derek has hidden all these years, threatening not only his safe, peaceful life, but his very existence. 

Unless he can find a way to stop her first. 

Reviewer: Jeanie G
Getting 4 “gold doubloons” worth of sheep.

Dragons! I love dragons and I loved this well-balanced story of dragon shifters hiding in plain sight. A small reclusive area in Colorado was the site of the last dragon shifter community until it was eradicated by a group of Arcane hunters. Seventeen years later the 13-year-old survivor returns to the area in search of any information relating to other survivors (particularly her sister). As a journalist what else was she supposed to do when someone on a social media website posted a blurry picture of what they say is a dragon.

Her survivor’s guilt travels with her always. She is tenacious in her search to uncover any information that might lead to the discovery that all was not lost 17 years ago. She must be cautious not to reveal her true heritage since Arcane hunters still roam and search for exactly what she wants to find.

The Prologue was a great hook and stage setting for the story that followed. It is loaded with great characters, surprising shifts, and some great back and forth romantic “dancing” between Cryss (main character) and the town’s sheriff Derek Reeves. Becoming comfortable back in the familiar area is not something she wants to cultivate. But as she develops affection for some of the residents, she also discovers one of her dragon abilities that had never manifested and her loyalty to leaving starts to waver.

As you can see, in addition to a well scripted and addicting read, all the prerequisites are there for a great paranormal/fantasy romance. I think all of this genre’s fans will be delighted they picked up this one. I am anxious to pick up the next installment!

Reviewer: Katie D
Like my review partner for this post, Jeanie, I also enjoy a good dragon tale. Add some sexy as hell romance and action-adventure, viola! Unlike Jeanie however, I had a totally different reading experience. My tastes did not match up on this one and trust me, I really wanted them to sink in and get with the story unfolding. 

I went back and read a few of the chapters just to be sure if I was missing something. Maybe I skipped over some important key section that pulled it all into place. Couldn't find it. Wanted to. So, for me, this book didn't work out but that's how it goes sometimes! 

VERY happy Jeanie liked it and this is why reading multiple reviews is always a wonderful thing! 

About the Author:
AMAZON Best Selling author ADDISON CARMICHAEL is a Paranormal Romance junkie. Love is a mystical, magical thing to her, and she loves writing and living vicariously through her endless PNR stories. Whether it be alpha male werewolves, fierce dragons, panthers and other shifters, sizzling hot vampires, or illusive sorcerers who will magically make your dreams come true, her imagination is bubbling up several stories after another.

“I’m often asked why I write this genre,” Addison commented. “The truth is, I love creating unique and fantastical worlds where anything is possible. I’m in love with love and all its possibilities for both adventure and total bliss. This is my avenue to live in these worlds and become the adventurous heroine who falls madly in love with her compliment super hot, supernatural hero. Worlds I love to visit again and again.”
As a literature major, Addison also enjoys weaving classic themes into her books, yet keeping the fun and folklore true to each story and character. While paying strict attention to the tropes of each myth, she also finds unique ways to create new ones in order to make each story as fresh, realistic and plausible as possible.

Besides reading and writing (which are blissful addictions), Addison loves the mountains and ocean, and enjoys hiking, camping, horseback riding and star-gazing whenever she can manage it. But reading, writing and storytelling is and will always be the “true love” of her life.

Addison Carmichael was born and raised in Southern California and has lived and traveled all over the west coast (and the world). She married the man of her dreams and has two awesome sons, two daughters-of-her-heart, and three grandchildren who are the jewels in her personal crown.

She now lives happily-ever-after with her family (which includes Mollie, her black lab-border collie) in Snohomish, Washington of the U.S. Pacific Northwest.


$40 Amazon 
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Book Review: Imaginary Numbers (InCryptid Book 9) by Seanan McGuire

Imaginary Numbers (InCryptid Book 9)
by Seanan McGuire
February 25, 2020
Publisher: DAW
448 pages

ISBN: 9780756413781
The ninth book in the fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.

Sarah Zellaby has always been in an interesting position. Adopted into the Price family at a young age, she's never been able to escape the biological reality of her origins: she's a cuckoo, a telepathic ambush predator closer akin to a parasitic wasp than a human being. Friend, cousin, mathematician; it's never been enough to dispel the fear that one day, nature will win out over nurture, and everything will change.

Maybe that time has finally come.

After spending the last several years recuperating in Ohio with her adoptive parents, Sarah is ready to return to the world--and most importantly, to her cousin Artie, with whom she has been head-over-heels in love since childhood. But there are cuckoos everywhere, and when the question of her own survival is weighed against the survival of her family, Sarah's choices all add up to one inescapable conclusion.

This is war. Cuckoo vs. Price, human vs. cryptid...and not all of them are going to walk away.

Seanan McGuire returns to her InCryptid series with Imaginary Numbers, and the heroine, Johrlac, or as the Prices call her species, Cuckoo, Sarah Zellaby. 

Finally healed after recuperating with her adoptive parents, Angela Baker is a Cuckoo —except she was born defected (not a telepath)—Sarah flies home to her family in Oregon. But at the Portland, Oregon airport, the second Cuckoo she runs into since she started her trip, attacks her, and she soon learns others of her kind are after her.

If you enjoy watching those cryptid paranormal shows and love reading urban fantasies with science fiction and horror interwoven in them, you will enjoy this book. Flavored like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and those sci-fi movies of the 50s and early 60s, added with dashes of cryptology, Imaginary Numbers is an edge of your seat storyline that hooked me to the end.

I gave Imaginary Numbers 5 sheep

Reviewed by Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:
Seanan McGuire is a California-based author with a strong penchant for travel and can regularly be found just about any place capable of supporting human life (as well as a few places that probably aren't). Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; Rosemary and Rue, was named one of the Top 20 Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Past Decade; and her novel Feed, written under the name Mira Grant, was named as one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2010. She also won a Hugo for her podcast, and is the first person to be nominated for fivHugo Awards in a single year.

Book Review: The Spellslinger: A Mythpunk Urban Fantasy Novel (A Fistful of Daggers Book 4) by SM Reine

The Spellslinger: A Mythpunk Urban Fantasy Novel (A Fistful of Daggers Book 4) 
by SM Reine
December 17, 2019
Pages: 228
Lincoln Marshall has failed. The Godslayer is trapped in her worst nightmares. His only chance of repairing the timeline is dead. He's stuck a decade in the past with Sophie Keyes, and the world is falling apart.

Held captive by the Union, Lincoln and Sophie must fight to repair a timeline rapidly unraveling.

James Faulkner has survived, but he's not whole. He's divided into angel and demon--his ambition and obsession severed from his power and passion. His angel side wants to rescue Elise. His demon side wants to rescue the world, at any cost--even if it means letting Elise die. Between their brilliant minds, they've conceived a plan that can repair the timeline. The only price is their lives.

Lincoln finds himself in another timeline and this one is even worse than his original timeline. Elise is trapped in a living nightmare with her biggest enemy and James has been split in to literally as an angel and a demon. Lincoln wants to fix the timeline and return to his world with Sophie but to make this happen people will die.

Reine has the ability to create many different worlds within her books that most of us can’t even imagine. Lincoln, Sophie, Elise, James, and Betty are at the center of this book where the only one with enough power to fix the mess is Sophie but does, she want to fix this world that is not her own and live here for the rest of her life? The characters are complex and full of depth that most of us can relate to in one way or another. This book might make your head spin too but all in a good way.

Denise B

About the Author:
Hi everyone! My name is Sara, and I'm the New York Times Bestselling Author of urban fantasy known as SM Reine. I collect swords, cat hair, and typewriters (which I do use for writing!). You can usually find me writing on my treadmill desk at 2am whilst listening to dubstep. Yes, dubstep.

If you would like to know the instant I have a new book available, you should enlist in my Army of Evil! I'll only email you when I have a new release, which is generally no more than once a month. I can't write any faster than that. :)

Excerpt: Dragon Lost: A Dark Kings Novella by Donna Grant

We are beyond excited to be sharing this release from Donna Grant with you today! DRAGON LOST is part of her Dark Kings series and it is releasing as part of 1001 Dark Nights. It just went live today! Check out an excerpt and book trailer from the title below.

by Donna Grant
February 25, 2020
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant comes a new story in her Dark Kings series…

Destinies can’t be ignored. No one knows that better than Annita. For as long as she can remember, it's been foretold she would find a dragon. A real-life dragon. She’s beginning to think it was all some kind of mistake until she’s swimming in one of the many caves around the island and discovers none other than a dragon. There is no fear as she approaches, utterly transfixed at the sight of the creature. Then he shifts into the shape of a thoroughly gorgeous man who spears her with bright blue eyes. In that instant, she knows her destiny has arrived. And the dragon holds the key to everything.

All Royden wanted was to find an item his brother buried when they were children. It was supposed to be a quick and simple trip, but he should’ve known nothing would be easy with enemies like the Dragon Kings have. Royden has no choice but to trust the beguiling woman who tempts him like no other. And in doing so, they unleash a love so strong, so pure that nothing can hold it back.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you'll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Add DRAGON LOST to your Goodreads TBR here
Purchase your copy of DRAGON LOST today! 

The warm water slid over Annita’s body as she dove into the crystal blue sea. It was a ritual she did every day without fail. The waters had called to her for as long as she could remember. Her parents hadn’t been able to keep her out of the sea.

There were as many theories surrounding the waters around Crete as there were myths and legends about the ancient gods and goddesses. In fact, it was said that Zeus had been born in one of the caves on Crete. Annita didn’t care about that, but she couldn’t deny that without her daily swim, she didn’t feel right.

Her strokes were strong as she glided through the water. Thankfully, she didn’t have to fight the tourists for the beach since it was her family’s land. Holdings that had been handed down for generations—and would pass to Annita’s sister, Louiza, eventually. Annita wasn’t upset about that. She had grown up in the house overlooking the Sea of Crete and its sparkling blue waters. Life had been idyllic, if not a little…odd.

In general, Greeks were a superstitious lot. How could they not be with all the tales of gods, goddesses, monsters, and heroes? Then there was the Seer in the family. Annita’s great-aunt, Chara, had pointed to her and said, “She’s the one.”

For the longest time, Annita hadn’t a clue as to what Chara had been talking about, and she hadn’t asked her parents either. Until, one day when she was thirteen, she’d overheard their conversation and learned that she had a destiny of great importance—with a dragon.

“The central romance, fueled by a hostage drama, plays out in glorious detail against a backdrop of multiple ongoing issues in the “Dark Kings” books. This seemingly penultimate installment creates a nice segue to a climactic end.” ~Library Journal – for BLAZE
“…intense romance amid the growing war between the Dragons and the Dark Fae is scorching hot.” ~Booklist for BLAZE
“This rousing tale of adventure, thousand-year-old secrets, lust and love is vivid and intense. This is another excellent installment in this fan-favorite series.” ~BookPage for FIRESTORM
“Donna Grant has given the paranormal genre a burst of fresh air…” ~San Francisco Book Review for DARKEST FLAME
“…will leave fans eager for the next volume in the series.” ~Publisher’s Weekly for FIRE RISING


Monday, February 24, 2020

Spotlight Pushing Up Posies (Guerrilla Grannies Book 2) by Jo Michaels

Pushing Up Posies (Guerrilla Grannies Book 2)
by Jo Michaels
February 20th, 2020
Genre: Women Sleuth
Editor: Tia Silverthorne Bach with INDIE Books Gone Wild
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Your favorite dirty grannies are at it again!

Monty, Minerva’s dead husband, is alive—yeah, she nearly peed her pants when she discovered that—and turns out, he’s running from several dangerous people. Unfortunately, he underestimated a woman’s fury when scorned.

The CDC has ordered the women into action: bring Monty in and hand him over. ASAP.

Minerva may have other plans…

It’s another crazy, fun-filled adventure with the grannies, and their shenanigans have just begun.

About the Author:

Jo Michaels loves writing novels that make readers gasp in horror, surprise, and disbelief. While her browser search history has probably landed her on a list somewhere, she still dives into every plot with gusto, hoping "the man" will realize she's a writer and not a psychopath about to go on a rampage. Her favorite pastimes are reading, watching Investigation Discovery, and helping other authors realize their true potential through mentoring. She's penned the award-winning Pen Pals and Serial Killers series and the best-selling educational book for children, Writing Prompts for Kids, which has rocketed the kids that use it into several awards of their own.

Most of Jo's books feature the places she's lived: Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia. That's given her a special amount of insight to what makes those locations tick. Her works are immersive and twisty, and she wouldn't want it any other way.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sheep Movie Review: Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
Feb 7, 2020
Directed By: Cathy Yan
Written By: Christina Hodson
Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco
Rating: R (for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material)
Genre: Action & Adventure
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
You ever hear the one about the cop, the songbird, the psycho and the mafia princess? "Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)" is a twisted tale told by Harley herself, as only Harley can tell it. When Gotham's most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis, and his zealous right-hand, Zsasz, put a target on a young girl named Cass, the city is turned upside down looking for her. Harley, Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya's paths collide, and the unlikely foursome have no choice but to team up to take Roman down.

Saw Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey with my husband and 18-year-old daughter. It had some cool action scenes but overall it wasn't what I'd hoped for. The trailer made me think there would be a lot of kickass female action scenes...but the gang didn't get together till the last few minutes of the movie.

I enjoyed this Harley Quinn (vs the one in Suicide Squad) more. She was more like a comic book character than a side piece for the Joker. She was definitely more physically brutal when she beat the ever-loving s*** out the bad people after her.

There is a short audio after-credit scene that is just funny, it doesn't give any insight into future DC movies. 

We all agreed on the rating. This is more a rental type of movie.

3.25 "Roller-skating" Sheep


Excerpt: Valentine's Slay by Denise N. Wheatley +giveaway

Valentine's Slay 
by Denise N. Wheatley
February 21, 2020
Genre: Steamy Sci-fi/Fantasy Romance Novella
In the land of Zanalia, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of war. When two of the realm’s fiercest foes go head-to-head over the sacred ritual, sparks unexpectedly fly, igniting an explosion of love, lust, and ultimately, broken traditions.

In a world filled with warriors, Valentine’s Day means war for the creatures of Zanalia. Mina, queen of the disciplinarian tribe, is responsible for spearheading attacks on the land’s worst enemies.

Spike, the son of king Theo and Mina’s biggest adversary, no longer believes in provoking battles on this love-filled holiday. He secretly encourages the Zanalians to put away their weapons and spend time with their loved ones instead. The absurd suggestion goes against the territory’s oldest tradition and is rejected by many, to the point where Spike receives death threats. His father grows worried for his son and orders Mina to stage his kidnapping, then provide him with personal, around-the-clock protection.

Mina is infuriated by the mission as she’s being forced to protect a disloyal traitor. She vows to make Spike’s time with her as torturous as possible until she unwittingly finds pleasure in the pain she inflicts upon him, while he seemingly relishes in her harsh punishments. Emotions run high between the pair, and Mina realizes that Spike’s wish to spread love this Valentine’s Day just may come true after all.

*On Sale for only $1.99!! ** 

Book Excerpt
Mina slowly climbed the winding, glass staircase inside of Spike’s compound. She pressed her back against the wall while watching every angle around her. In order to gain access to his home, Mina had utilized her narcoleptic machine gun, which was capable of putting its victims to sleep within less than a second. She’d shot several darts into the necks of four armed guards manning the exterior. According to her surveillance, there were only two guards inside of the complex. Mina planned to quickly knock them out, grab hold of Spike, and get him inside of the transporter.

When she approached Spike’s master bedroom, Mina pressed her ear against the door and listened as he and the creatures spoke in hushed tones. She slowly turned the knob and cocked her gun. The minute she swung open the door, Mina shot a dart into the neck of a watchman standing to her left, then the one to her right. Spike made a run toward the bathroom, but just as he reached the threshold, she fired a dart into his throat. He fell to the floor, and along with the other two guards, fell into a deep, snoring slumber.

Mina swooped in immediately, lifting Spike up off the floor, carried him out of the house and threw him inside the transporter. There was a comfortable velvet couch that had been placed in the back, but instead of lying him there, she dragged his body onto a hard, cold iron bench.

“You’re going to pay for disrupting my retirement as Queen of the Disciplinarian Tribe and betraying our beloved Zanalian tradition,” she said, her wicked tone filled with satisfaction.

Mina stripped Spike down to his scant undergarments. She handcuffed his wrists and ankles, then wrapped a heavy metal chain around his waist and secured it with a huge padlock. As he lay there knocked out cold, she looked down at his muscular body, handsome face, and soft, vulnerable expression.

“Don’t you dare start that,” Mina told herself, shaking off the feeling of lust that briefly overcame her.

She headed to the front of the transporter and typed the name of a secret back road into the navigation system that would lead them far away from Spike’s compound and in the direction of her quarters. Once a map popped up on the overhead screen, Mina signaled to the horses that it was time to take off then sped away into the night.

“Help…help. Help!”

Mina’s ears perked up while she listened to Spike scream from the back of the transporter.

“What is going on?” he screeched. “Where the hell am I? Somebody, please, help me!”

“Ugh,” Mina moaned, ignoring his pleas. She grabbed hold of the steering bar and maneuvered the vehicle through a dark, dank, hilly road. According to her digital dashboard, they had been traveling for well over three hours. Mina had been in constant contact with Theo, who warned her to remain on the outskirts of Zanalia as Spike’s protestors were circling every inch of the land, waiting to attack him the moment he appeared.

“Whoever is holding me captive,” Spike called out, “you must release me at once! Do you know who I am? Do you know who my father is? I am the prince of Zanalia, soon to be king!”

“Please, shut up,” Mina muttered, unsympathetically. She pulled the steering bar back, anxious to get through the swampy territory and onto smoother terrain. When the chargers slowed down instead of speeding up, Mina realized they had yet to stop and take a break and assumed they were exhausted.

She directed them toward the side of the road, then grabbed several buckets of food and water and carried them outside. Once the chargers began feeding away, she hopped back into the transporter and headed toward the back where Spike was being held.

“What the…” he yelled the moment he saw her. “What is going on here, Mina? Where are we, and why am I in shackles? Release me, now! I insist!”

“Unfortunately for you, Spike, that is not going to happen. You see, because of your little attempt to disrupt Zanalia’s Valentine’s Day tradition, your father ordered that I kidnap and hold you captive until the holiday is over and our battle against Raynalium is complete. If you’re angry, be mad at yourself, but you should actually be thanking me, because I’m the reason you’re still alive.”

Spike glared at Mina. “If you do not remove these cuffs and chain at once, you will forever regret it,” he spewed, rattling the restraints to the point they almost tore into his skin.

“If you keep threatening me, you’ll be the only one with regrets.”

Spike tried to sit up, but the chain around his waist forced him back down onto the freezing bench. He jerked his head toward Mina and let out a resounding roar.

“My guards will know where to find me,” he told her. “The second they free me, I swear I’m going to kill you!”

She walked over to Spike and leaned in so closely her face was mere inches away from his.

“You know what? I was going to play nice with you. Well…semi-nice. But now? Playtime is over. You’re going to be sorry for the way you just spoke to me.”

Mina sauntered toward the front of the transporter, ignoring Spike’s cries as he called out her name. She grabbed the metal suitcase she’d secretly packed before heading out on the mission in the event she’d need its contents. Judging from Spike’s rebellious behavior, Mina realized that she had done the right thing.

“What are you doing?” he asked when she opened the case and pulled out two steel clamps. “What are those?” 

About the Author:
Denise N. Wheatley is a lover of happily-ever-afters and the art of storytelling. She is best known for her chick lit novel I WISH I NEVER MET YOU, which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2004. Since then she’s written (and ghostwritten) numerous novels and novellas that run the romance gamut, from contemporary to paranormal, sweet to steamy.

Denise strives to pen entertaining stories that embody matters of the heart, while creating characters who are strong, colorful and relatable. She is an RWA member and received a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the city where she was born and raised. When Denise is not sitting behind a computer, you can find her in a movie theater, on a tennis court, watching true crime television or chatting on social media.

2 winners: One $15 Amazon gift card and one copy of my steamy contemporary romance novella, MY UNCONDITIONAL VALENTINE 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Excerpt: Reckless Times (Paragon Society #1) by Michelle Hercules + giveaway

by Michelle Hercules
February 20th 2020
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy


Those are the words used to describe me. I’m an Idol who can’t see, and in this savage world where power is everything, being born with a disability makes me an aberration. Idols are the direct descendants of the gods. We’re supposed to be perfect.

My parents kept me protected behind walls most of my life. They fear I won’t survive in the real world. They have no idea what kind of power runs through my veins.

Stephan Silverstone—the most perfect Idol I’ve ever met—does. He’s cocky, annoying, and pushes my buttons like no other. But he sees me, the real person behind all the preconceived notions. Without effort, he’s breaking all my barriers; he’s claiming my heart.

When I’m with him, sparks fly. I want to be reckless and forget everything. If only things were that simple. We’re both keeping dangerous secrets that could tear us apart. War is coming, and I’m not sure if what we have will survive.

*This is a spin-off of Gifted Academy Series. This is not an RH romance.

The crowd is clamoring, calling my name. I can feel the vibration of their loud voices and violent energy from the locker room. I’m alone here. After so many victories in the pit, I’ve earned the right to privacy. Little butterflies flutter savagely in my belly. I’m not nervous; these are just the jitters before a performance. I curl my hands into fists, letting the power of my invisible chains run freely through my veins like a surge of electricity.

For a fleeting moment, I wonder what my parents would do if they found out their precious disabled daughter is fighting against the meanest and strongest Idols in the biggest underground tournament in Hawk City. They’d probably have a heart attack. For starters, my family is one of the most prominent and wealthiest in the country. We don’t mingle with the lower classes.

I snort.

Yes, they’d be appalled, but mostly they’d be worried sick. Despite me being a high-level Idol, they think I’m defenseless thanks to my blindness. They know nothing about me, but they never made the effort either.

I push thoughts of my parents to the side and focus on the here and now. I’m the current champion in the pit, and as such, I’ll only step foot in the small arena when all fights are done. This is something new that management implemented. I’m facing whoever wins the rounds.

A smile blossoms on my lips as I remember my first time here. They thought I was an easy target. My disability was all they could see, never mind that I didn’t try to conceal my powers then. Strategy was not in my mind that first night. It didn’t matter. The fight was over before I could break a sweat.

Heavy steps approach from outside my locker room. It’s Dick Santos, the arena’s manager.

He knocks once before he opens the door. “It’s time.”

I jump to my feet, shaking my arms to loosen up. “Who am I fighting tonight?”

“The Boulder. Mean fella. Level fourteen. He can con—”

“Let me guess. Rocks?” I raise an eyebrow.

“Yeah, and he’s faster than most despite his size.”

“What are the odds?” I stretch my arms.

“Six to one.”

“Six to one? That’s it?”

“In his favor,” Dick continues.

My jaw drops, and it’s not an act. I’m genuinely offended. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope. Our little performance last night worked. You’re the underdog again. But don’t worry, kid. He’s got nothing on you.” Dick puts his hand on my shoulder, which I promptly push off.

“I’m not worried. I’m pissed.”

He laughs from deep in his belly, grating on my nerves. “I’m not. Tonight, I’m making bank.”

Yeah, you and the guys.

I stride out of the room, focusing on the fire burning in the pit of my stomach. What did The Boulder do to make people think he can beat me? I only received a couple of hits yesterday from Stone Man, and that was because Dick told me to.

It doesn’t matter. I’ll show them.

The two security guys at the end of the corridor tense when they see me approach. It’s funny how I can pick up subtle changes in people more easily than those who aren’t visually impaired. Without missing a beat, they open the double doors for me. I usually take a deep breath to get rid of the jitters. Not tonight though. I’m more than ready to do some damage.

When I step out, the crowd roars, “Blind Fury! Blind Fury!”

I don’t bask in the glory. Only one out of six think I have a chance to win. I’m surrounded by traitors everywhere.

There’s only one person I can trust.


Dick announces my name as the defending champion, and once again, people go wild. But when he mentions the name of my opponent, the cheers are louder. I search for Leroy and Ezekiel in the crowd, my fan club. It’s easy to locate them as I’m already familiar with their auras. At least they aren’t rooting for the other guy.

I let my chains loose so I can get a sense of The Boulder but keep them invisible for now. That’s how I see the world, through my chains. They pick up on the vibrations of everything around me: people, objects, obstacles. It’s not a perfect view, but it’s better than being completely in the dark. Quickly, I understand why the majority of those present think I’m going to lose. My opponent is massive, almost seven feet tall, and packing muscles. Now I know where his stage name comes from.

“This is the famous Blind Fury?” He laughs. “I don’t know how I feel about fighting a helple—”

I shoot my right chain out, wrapping it around his throat and cutting his tirade off. He chokes, clutching at the links in a vain attempt to break free.

“You were saying?” I yank the chain hard, bringing the cocky idiot to his knees.

Dick remains outside the ring. The first thing he told me when I stepped into the pit for the first time was that there were no rules. Losers can either forfeit, pass out, or die, and the choice always relies on the victor. The Boulder’s grunts tell me he must be getting purple by now. I could easily kill him, and no one would think less of me. On the contrary, the crowd would love me more. I’m tempted, and my chains are as bloodthirsty as I am.

This is not who you are, Andy. 

At the last moment, I retract them. There’s a collective gasp of disappointment.

The Boulder is still coughing as he staggers back to his feet. But instead of leaving the pit, he pulls all his energy to his core. He’s going to attack again, even though the fight’s pretty much over. Son of a bitch. Some people just don’t know when to give up.

Strong vibrations concentrate around the man just before the floor cracks right under my feet. A huge mass forms in front of him. The fucker created a rock, which he launches in my direction. I have ample time to move out of the way, but I hold my ground. My chains form a protective circle around me, and in the next second comes the sound of rock shattering.

“What the fuck is that?” he asks, shocked.

I can’t tell exactly what he’s seeing, but when my chains are in full display, awe is the most common reaction I get. They must look badass.

He doesn’t get another chance to attack before I send both chains in his direction. One pierces his right thigh, and the other wraps around his body, squeezing him in a bone-crushing hold.

“Aargh! My leg. What did you do to me, bitch?”

Slowly, I walk in his direction, stopping when I’m in front of his collapsed form. “You should have forfeited when you had the chance.”

“Never. I’d rather die.”

It’s the first time I’ve faced someone with a death wish. I’d never truly considered killing anyone for sport, but today, the temptation is huge.

“Careful, buddy. I’m feeling quite murderous tonight.”

My chains squeeze him until the first crack of bone breaking echoes in the pit. The Boulder screams and curses, but he won’t relent. I won’t have a choice. If I don’t kill him, I’ll never be allowed back. The crowd will boo me out of the pit, if they don’t do something worse like ask for my head.

Suddenly, there’s no more resistance coming from him. Ah fuck. Did I kill him? I listen closely, something hard to do when everyone around is talking and cheering. Then I hear it, the faint sound of his breathing. He’s not dead, simply passed out. Relief washes over me, but I can’t let anyone see. Maintaining the cold mask, I pull away and walk over to my side of the pit.

Dick tsks as he joins me in the ring. When his attention diverts to me, I sense the difference in his demeanor. He’s beaming, probably counting his profits already.

“What an evening, am I right, folks?” he addresses the crowd.

They respond with cheers and hollers.

“How about we make it even more exciting?”

The yelling goes up a notch, making me wince. Sometimes having enhanced hearing is a curse.

“Blind Fury has remained undefeated for five weeks straight. I’m doubling tonight’s grand prize. If there’s anyone here brave enough to challenge her, come forward now.”

Immediately, the noise lowers until only murmurs can be heard. I frown, glowering in Dick’s general direction. I didn’t agree to a final challenge. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s the fucking principle. I’m not his bitch to do as he pleases. I’d storm out of the pit if that wouldn’t brand me a coward.

Minutes go by without anyone stepping forward. Dick keeps egging on the crowd. I don’t know why he wants another fight so badly, but my patience is wearing thin. I stretch my arms and fake a yawn, ready to get the fuck out of here, when I sense a familiar presence nearby. My blood runs cold. I came here to forget he exists, to unleash my wrath on strangers, wishing it was him.

“I’ll do it. I challenge Blind Fury,” Stephan declares.

A myriad of emotions washes over me. Rage, longing, shame.

Damn everything to hell. What is he doing here?

About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Michelle Hercules always knew creative arts were her calling but not in a million years did she think she would write a novel. With a background in fashion design she thought she would follow that path. But one day, out of the blue, she had an idea for a book. One page turned into ten pages, ten pages turned into a hundred, and before she knew, her first book, The Prophecy of Arcadia, was born.

Michelle Hercules resides in The Netherlands with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on the Legends of Gattica series.

Enter to win a SIGNED copy of Reckless Times!