Book Blitz & Excerpt: Of Alchemists and Arsonists + Giveaway

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Of Alchemists and Arsonists
Katherine McIntyre

Book 3 in the The Whitfield Files series

Heat Rating: Sizzling

Sexometer: 2
Word Count: 41,366
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 162
Genres: EROTIC ROMANCE, STEAMPUNK

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All Nate Whitfield wanted to do was stay out of trouble—but then he met Belle…

In setting up his apothecary emporium in Islington, Nate Whitfield knew he’d be facing all manner of cracksmen and scum—after all, his cousins were once a part of that underworld. However, when a stunner of a woman bursts into his shop to hide from her former gang, he can’t help but offer shelter.

Isobel Griffiths, an arsonist with a knack for setting blazes unseen, has wanted her freedom ever since her parents sold her to notorious gang leader Jack Blair. Drawn into Isobel’s whirlwind, Nate is soon smitten…as is she.

Belle’s clever, but to escape Blair’s clutches, she’ll need more than wits—she’ll need Nate’s alchemy. And if their plan doesn’t succeed, it could spiral into a gang feud deadly enough to tear all of Islington apart.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, death and injury. There are references to a parent selling a child into slavery.

Excerpt

Just another day in this nightmare of a neighborhood.

When Nate had decided—or, truly, had been forced—to abandon his home in Ipswich, the spot in London where his cousins Theo and Ellie wrestled up trouble in one hand and livelihoods in the other had seemed to be his best, and only, option.

He heaved a sigh and rearranged the glass bottles on the shelves, making the display more even. Different colored liquids glowed with pearlescent promise, while others looked like the sludge scraped off shoes at the end of the day.

The first time his shop had been broken into overnight, Theo had strolled by to install a complex locking mechanism on the door sure to keep thieves out.

The second time his shop had been broken into in the middle of the day, Ellie had arrived to place a derringer in his palm with a warning to practice his aim.

His grip tightened around the glass neck of one of the corked bottles that glowed with a substance bluer than the ocean. He’d handcrafted each of these potions, and he just wanted to make a living off practicing the alchemy he’d studied for years to master. That had been his past trajectory, until the Darlingtons had involved themselves in his business. He swallowed hard as a familiar wave of ugliness washed over him, as bitter as wormwood. Like he’d be able to find his way in this forest of fools. Thus far, he’d just brought disappointment to his family.

He finished arranging the glass bottles and returned to stand behind the counter. He’d stationed it at the back end of the store with a sometimes-useful register and plenty of shelves built into the structure, which left room to sort his voluminous back supply of herbs. Most of his potions wouldn’t be possible without a well-stocked apothecary of tonics, herbs and digestives. He used those basics to perform his alchemy—a lavender tea could be transmuted into a jar of moonlight while chamomile and lemon peel could become bottled sunshine. The possibilities were endless.

Nate lifted one of the bags of lavender, inhaling as if the gentle fragrance might help calm his nerves. Every day that he opened his shop to the world turned into another triumph and another risk—whether from irritable customers or the thieves running rampant through this part of town. He tightened his grip around the bag. He missed his home something dreadful.

He hummed a tune to himself and pulled out a bag of peppermint and one of pennyroyal, setting them out on the countertop by the scales. While he waited for the normal riffraff to come tumbling through those doors begging to barter or offer less coin than sensible, he’d at least continue creating more product. He’d learned all of his alchemy from his uncle, a soul stolen far too early from this world. Consumption was a cruel disease.

He shook some peppermint onto the scale, the tiny dried leaves collecting in the center.

The door swung open hard enough for the glass to rattle.

Nate paused mid-shake and slid his free hand under the counter for the derringer Ellie had brought him.

Not another robbery. A third time and he was tempted to hurl himself into the Thames.

A woman bolted in, her shoulders heaving and her breaths coming out like punctuation marks.

She slammed the door closed, but he didn’t get a full glimpse of her until she whirled around to face him. She was dressed like a shift worker in mahogany trousers, a blue shirt rolled up to the elbows and a red kerchief around her neck. Her dark brown hair was pulled into a ponytail, and the sharp look in her deep-set eyes pinned him on the spot. With her full lips and slender features, she possessed an arresting beauty.

Panic flashed in her eyes. “Help me.” She crossed the space between them. “I need somewhere to hide.”

Nate swallowed hard. Anyone on the run would bring more trouble with them than he wanted to deal with in a lifetime. However, once she stepped to the counter, the pleading in her umber eyes swayed him.

“Here,” he said, gesturing behind the counter. The bottom shelf was large enough to fit the wastebasket he had stationed there. He pulled out the wastebasket and set it beside him where he was working at the scales. “You can try to squeeze in.”

She nodded, her ponytail bobbing with the motion. The woman crouched and began to wedge herself into the confined space, folding up with surprising ease.

“Thank you,” she said once she’d settled inside, even though her voice came out muffled.

Nate raked fingers through his hair and heaved out a sigh. He’d left home to avoid trouble, yet from the moment he’d arrived in Islington, he’d found more and more. How his cousins survived around here mystified him. The scale wavered as he picked up the bag of peppermint and set to his task again, even while his heart raced a thousand leagues per second.

What sort of trouble had this woman found herself in?

The looming figures crowding in front of his door answered the question. Based on their scowls, their trousers in ill repair and the weapons weighing down their belts, the gang sort of trouble.

Yet again, his poor glass door went flying open, clanging against the wall with a reverberation that made him wince. The biggest of the three men loped toward him, his heavy steps audible through the room, causing the glass bottles on the shelves to rattle. Nate would have to reorganize them.

The man stopped in front of the counter, his dark eyes flashing with intended threat. “Where’s the girl?”

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About the Author

Katherine McIntyre

Strong women. Strong words.

Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women. Easily distracted by cats and sugar.

You can follow Katherine on Instagram here, join her Facebook group here and sign up to her newsletter here.

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Katherine McIntyre’s Of Alchemists and Arsonists

KATHERINE MCINTYRE IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GRAB YOUR FREE KATHERINE MCINTYRE ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 2nd February 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Release Blitz: Hunger Strike + Excerpt

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Book Title:  Hunger Strike: The Road of Bones

Author: T.J. Pike

Publisher: Gnaw Publishing

Release Date: November 20, 2020

Genre/s: Dystopian, YA, sci-fi/fantasy

Trope/s: Reluctant Hero

Themes: Friendship, family, freedom versus oppression

Heat Rating: 1 flame      

Length:  95 391 words

It is book 1 in a series of 4

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Blurb

 Hunger Strike, The Road of Bones drops you two centuries into the future. The moon has been sheared in two, much of the Earth is a wasteland, and the world is ruled over by witches and sorcerers with cruelty and indifference. When the town of Endly is threatened by the tinkerer and his army of animorphs,  sixteen-year-old Hunger Strike, alongside his best friend, Winda,  and his adopted brother, Denver, devises a plan to move  thousands of its residents across the treacherous wilds, in the hopes of finding a new home within the borders of a strange land far to the west, known only as The Weird Wood.

The road must have its blood

Excerpt 

Winda is the adult in the room. Always. She approaches challenges logically. Where I’m a bumbling mess of emotions, Winda has a way of removing emotion from any given situation, and then, with a clear head, she begins to formulate a plan of action. 

So, I relate every detail of the past couple of hours to her, ending on a sour note with the impending invasion, and then I sit back, fold my arms across my chest, and I watch the gears spinning behind Winda’s eyes, a flickering candle between us. 

A minute passes. Two. Three.

“The beasts!” she shouts suddenly, jumping to her feet and kicking the leg of the table. Next, to my horror, she pulls her machete from its sheath and, in one lightning fast motion, she stabs its tip into the table, plants her hands, locks eyes with me, grits her teeth and she spits; “Well, I’m not going down without a fight, you hear?? We’ll certainly die, but we’re damned well going to take a few of them bastards down with us, and we’ll bathe in their blood together before our glorious deaths!”

I knit my eyebrows together. Clearly, someone has taken my Winda and they’ve replaced her with a person who delights in taking baths in other folks blood. I, however, do not. Where’s the adult in the room? The lack of emotion? The clear-headed plan? We really are screwed if even Winda can’t wrap her head around this thing and spit out a strategy other than bathing in blood and glorious deaths – a duo of rather unappealing options in my less-than-knowledgeable opinion on the subject.

“Um – I don’t like that plan, Winda,” I whisper, painfully aware that Denver is in my bedroom and probably listening to every word we say.

“What else is there??” she spits back at me, once again taking her seat.

I furrow my brow. “Running?”

“Leave – all these people to be slaughtered?” Winda hisses across the table at me. “Is that what you’re suggesting, Hunger?”

“No, Winda, that’s not what I’m suggesting,” I say.

“Then what?”

“We take them with us,” I say.

There’s a pause while Winda looks across the table at me like I’ve just grown a hideous extra head or two. “There are – thousands of people living in Endly, Hunger.”

“Two thousand, three hundred and thirty-seven,” a raspy little voice says. 

I glance over my shoulder. Denver is peeking into the kitchen from the hall.

Winda sneers at him. 

He gulps. 

Denver has always been quite anxious around Winda. It might be her machete, or the pistol, or the fact that he overheard us discussing how she had accidentally murdered her pet cat, Mr. Wiggles. Or all three. 

 

 About the Author

 T.J. Pike has been writing since splashing down on this tiny blue marble in late 1986, when a native of the planet observed what a brilliant liar he was. “You should either write a book or go into politics,” the woman was heard to say. Having been a VIP guest at the White House several thousand times over the past hundred years, he chose the former. Hand cramps, cold feet and early mornings soon inspired him to invent the computer, wool socks and coffee, though not in that order. Pike is currently number one on the Epsilon Delta Bestsellers list, and if you visit the Planet Arkon, you can find a bronze statue of him in the alleyway behind Smirk’s Liquor Mart, just to the left of the dumpster. Dubbed the most prolific story-teller of his time by Deckon-the-deceiver, Pike currently resides in New England, where he spends his days in the clouds, atop his dragon, Dinky, only stopping to allow her to feed on the occasional villager or two.

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Priceless, by Catherine Stein

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Priceless
Sass and Steam, Book 2
Catherine Stein

Steampunk Romance

Date Published: November 20, 2020

 

He’ll pay any price to win her. But her artist’s heart is not for sale.

Raised in a squalid factory, Evan Tagget has battled his way to the top. Now a multi-millionaire, he runs a global empire of telecommunication devices, mechanical dragons, and clockwork gadgets. Evan can buy anything he wants.

Except the love of the brazen artist who barges into his life.

Violet Dayton has made her living painting forgeries, scrimping and saving toward her true passion: a grand Paris art exhibition to display her work and the art of the friends who have always looked out for her. But a corrupt police inspector knows her secrets, and the only way to escape his clutches is to track down the master art thief plaguing museums across Europe.

With the aid of Evan’s money and connections, Violet knows she can catch her thief, but she hadn’t counted on her powerful attraction to the arrogant millionaire, or the complex, passionate layers beneath his cool exterior. With enemies everywhere, she’ll have to trust Evan with her life. Her heart, though, she guards closely. And the only way he’ll ever win her is to prove he knows the true value of love.

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Excerpt

I have a proposition for you, Mr. Tagget.”

His neatly trimmed eyebrows twitched. “Excellent!”

Ack, that smug smile. The man was too handsome for his own good, and he knew it. Vi didn’t know whether she’d rather kiss that mouth or punch it.

The grainy magazine photograph she’s scrounged up hadn’t done him justice. It made him look older, more serious. It didn’t show the single stray lock of hair curling across his forehead or the dimples at the corners of his mouth, too prominent to hide beneath his short goatee. It failed entirely to capture that wicked glint in his eye. He wasn’t the cold, merciless industrialist she’d imagined. His blood ran hot.

She’d also imagined him to be quite a bit taller. Standing here, staring at him, they looked exactly the same height.

You and I are going to enter a partnership, Mr. Tagget.”

Oh, are we?” He managed to both leer and sound suspicious.

You have heard, I assume, of the rash of art thefts over the past few months?”

That fool who styles himself ‘l’Exploiteur’? Is he the mastermind he claims, or just a braggart?”

I’m told he has stolen near to fifty works of art, mainly from private collections and small galleries. His thefts grow bigger and bolder, and he has begun to taunt major galleries and museums with the promise of the greatest heists ever seen.”

Well, that does sound dire, though I fail to see how it is of relevance to myself.” His dark brows quirked again. “Unless you are this Exploiter? If so, then I absolutely agree to join you on your next heist. What are we stealing?”

No!” Vi put both hands on her hips. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, I’m not an art thief.”

More’s the pity. I could use an interesting challenge.”

I’m an artist,” Violet huffed. “I create, I don’t destroy. I want my work on display, where it can be enjoyed by all.”

Tagget stroked his beard. “Hmm. What, then, is your concern with this pilferer of cultural treasures?”

I’m trying to learn his identity and put a stop to his crimes.”

How noble,” he chuckled. “Standing up for the dead masters who can no longer defend their works?”

Obnoxious ass. She really was going to punch him right in his pretty mouth, then storm out and find herself a different assistant.

Violet clenched her fingers. Rich businessmen with questionable ethics and worldwide communications networks couldn’t be found loitering on any street corner. She was lucky to even have the opportunity to speak with him.

I was asked to help in this case because of my own connections in the art world,” she explained, trying not to glower.

He frowned at her, causing a small furrow in his brow. “Your connections? What sort of connections would a lady artist have that would be of any use in this situation? Unless…” The frown twisted into a smile. “You’re involved in illicit dealings yourself, naturally. A forger, perhaps?” He twitched. “Well, I’ll be damned. Are you Vérité? But of course you are. ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty.’ Though you look rather youthful for someone who they say has been working for fifty years and faked three hundred paintings.”

Ten years, twenty-seven forgeries. Many haven’t been discovered, and many works have been incorrectly attributed to me.”

With her police file as thick as a Bible, Violet didn’t see any need to hide her deeds, and she was proud of the work she had done. Tagget looked momentarily surprised by her admission, then his smile returned.

Fascinating. You made a deal with the authorities, I presume? But you need assistance. Why me?”

I heard you were kicked out of the United States for spying.”

Tagget’s green eyes twinkled. “Now, my lovely blossom, you mustn’t believe every rumor you hear. I bent some laws, perhaps, but didn’t precisely break them. People did take exception, however, so I thought it best to focus on my European interests until the furor dies down.”

Violet turned up her nose at him. “I don’t care about the details. I care that you’re a teletics expert. Can you or can you not record information over a telephone or telegraph line?”

I can. Most of it is irrelevant chatter. Sifting through is usually a waste of time.”

And you’re an inventor?” she pressed on. “You can build things, and understand how machines work? You could dismantle them if necessary?”

A smile of a different sort touched his lips. More boyish, maybe even happier. “I could break through that mechanical door behind me with no more than a screwdriver, given enough time.”

Then you’re the man I need.”

He fixed her with a heated stare. “I’m pleased you think so.” The husky timbre of his voice sent a shiver down her spine. “I accept your proposal. When do we begin?”

About the Author

 

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her books are full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and Oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in Renaissance Festival clothing, drinking copious amounts of tea.

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