Book Blitz & Excerpt: Adorned in Blood + Giveaway

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Adorned in Blood by L.S. Barron

Word Count: 52,184
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 201

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CONTEMPORARY
GLBTQI
SWEET ROMANCE
TRANSGENDER
VAMPIRES
YOUNG ADULT
YOUNGER READERS

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Book Description

Once Jenna, now Michael…soaked in blood but cleansed by love. I sink my teeth into the pulsating artery. Crimson red blood sprays across the misty fog.

Michael is a transgender teenager who is well on his way with his gender transition and finding a life path that better suits him. And as if that weren’t enough of a freak-out for the teen, he’s been turned into a vampire…a Nosferatu!

Luckily, Michael has a group of good friends to help him through his struggles, and who would think that this would be when he’d find love for the first time?

But just to keep his already-interesting life in a wee bit more turmoil, a murder leads to a discovery that could change not only his life but the lives of everyone he knows…and loves.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and murder, the death of a parent, attempted suicide, and bullying.

Excerpt

The golden rays from the alleyway streetlamp glimmered through the mist and fog. The drizzly rain fell lightly upon my eyelashes. I felt the coldness as it wreaked an ill chill through my body. Somehow, the thirst had taken over once again. Everything else in my mind had been put aside.

The back door of the diner opened. It was a shabby place—hardly even a rat dared linger there, except the rat that ran the place. There in the mist was the man himself, throwing out the night’s garbage into the already rank alleyway. He was a savage of a being. He was mean to my kind, mean to all kinds.

“Hey, kid, what are you doing back here?” the crotchety man asked.

I wiped the rain from my eyes. The saliva ran down the side of my mouth. Attack!

It was soon over. I so liked the color blue and how it looked on me. I thought it brought out more of the blue in my hazel eyes. Almost all my shirts were some shade of blue. Dang, I shouldn’t have worn my favorite.

The blue T-shirt had streams of crimson red blood running down it, like it was a newly designed pattern, meant to be that way.

The savage lay at my feet, lifeless. No more will he be unkind to me…or to anyone, for that matter. I pushed the man’s side with my sneaker to make sure he was now lifeless. There was no movement, no breath. Dead.

I wiped the blood from my face on my arm. I looked up into the drizzly rain, letting it rinse my face clean, erasing my sinful act. I admired the rays of light from the streetlamp. I felt pure, rejuvenated. I was not mournful for the beast of a man. There was no regret. I felt renewed and fell into a deep, restful sleep.

My alarm clock sounded. Morning had quickly arrived, with the memories of the night only a fleeting moment in my mind. The school day ahead was not what I was worried about. I combed my now short blondish-brown hair as I stood in front of my bedside mirror. I glanced down at one of my old swimming trophies. ‘High Point Award, 9–10 girls, Jenna Holliday’. Jenna Michelle Holliday, hmm… I chuckled. Yes, that once had been my name. Now, however, it is simply Michael Holliday.

I repeated that in the mirror out loud. “Michael Holliday.”

The name flowed so much better off my tongue. It felt right. It felt comfortable, fitting.

When did I know that I was Michael and not that lost girl Jenna? Probably before I even had memories. My mom told me that by the time I was two, I had already started showing preferences toward the other gender. She told me that I would just drag my doll around by its hair like I hated the thing. Then I would fight the neighbor boy for his Matchbox trucks.

In my memory, I’d known by kindergarten at least. I’d known for sure dresses were out. All I’d wanted to wear were jeans and a T-shirt so that I could play roughhousing games with the boys any chance I got. I’d loved to fight, play football and wrestle. I’d wanted everything in a boy’s life. I’d found no use for my girlie body and didn’t feel like it belonged to me. I’d kept it at a distance, almost, like looking into the mirror and not seeing my real self.

Things have changed now. I was F2M post-op, at least the top half of my body, which I now loved. I was going to leave the lower stuff alone for now. Mom and Dad had been super supportive, so that was pretty cool, not like some kids who I’ve seen struggling. I’m on the T—testosterone injections. I was starting to finally show some facial scruff. That was pretty sick. I could do without the excessive underarm odor, but that was what Axe was for, I guessed. I have noticed of late that my shoulders are getting broader, but I also work out in the gym pretty hard.

However, right now, besides all this, I have this new thing to deal with. It’s not like being sixteen brings enough problems already. Now I’m cursed with this bloodthirst too. I can’t even remember who did this to me, but I’ll find out. I’m going to have my revenge!

I had my suspects. Number one on my list? Mr. Drakon Branikov, my high school’s history teacher. I think he’s from Bulgaria—or maybe Hungary. I’m not sure, but he’s definitely not from around here.

Mr. Branikov has long hair that he keeps pulled back in a ponytail and dark brown eyes, almost black. I feel like he could stare into my soul, though the girls seem to gaze at him in adoration. He dresses strangely, almost old-style, yet he seems young. That brought another question to my mind. Why does he always seem to look the same age? Other teachers had gotten older over the years. Not Mr. Branikov. I had lived in this town all my life. I had paid attention. This teacher was not what he seemed.

I had permission that night to go out with friends after the high-school football game. My plan, though, was something completely different. I would follow my suspect.

There had been criminals missing around town. There had been missing girls, not schoolgirls but ladies of the night, the skanky kind. I had done my research at the library. It seemed that the local papers showed that there had been several unsolved deaths and missing persons in recent years. Guess what? All since Mr. Branikov and his family had moved into town.

It seemed the cops didn’t care much. Why would they? The town was becoming a safer and nicer place to live.

It had been a while since anyone had been missing or killed. I figured, if Mr. Branikov was like me, it was time to rejuvenate. I knew I could go a month or so, but not much longer. I didn’t know about Mr. Branikov. Is he an old Nosferatu? Did he draw the blood from my body first? Did he cause my thirst? Why?

This notion that one should be moral and only live on animals? Yeah, that didn’t work. I’d tried. No, only the pulsating blood of a human would suffice. So, I’d choose the most immoral beings that I could find—at least I’d try.

This would be a good night to feed. Town would be busy. Lowlifes would be crawling about, looking for trouble. If my suspicions were right, Mr. Branikov would feed and I would be there!

Mr. Branikov departed the stadium from the back entrance. It was dark and quiet, leading down the back alleyway of the high school. I followed at a distance. I thought we were alone.

“Hey, Michael…or is it Michelle? No wait! Wasn’t it Jenna?” I heard from behind me, along with sudden laughter.

I turned. It was James Day and his pack, some of the popular boys who I found to be very irritating.

“Come on, James. It doesn’t even know what it is,” another boy said, as they all laughed again.

The pack walked closer to me. James looked at me and shook his head. “Well, it got rid of its boobs. Maybe we should see if it has any balls.”

My anger rose and I saw the vein in James’ neck pulsate. He was a jerk. I was losing my thoughts. Everything was starting to spin. Attack!

In the blur of the moment, out of the darkness, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Not now. It’s okay,” a calming voice whispered in my ear.

I turned to find Mr. Branikov behind me. I heard the pack of boys scatter. Mr. Branikov was standing there. He smiled, pushed the hair away from my eyes and gently said, “Walk with me.”

I learned that night that Mr. Branikov was who I’d thought him to be. However, he had not doomed me to this life but had saved me. I learned that while I had still been Jenna, before I had come forward about my true self, I had been very unhappy. Mr. Branikov told me that he’d found me below the old town bridge with hardly a breath left. He’d chosen to save me.

I didn’t remember any of this. It was after this moment that I had gone forward in my life. I’d found my new self. I found new meaning. I’m a new creature—actually two new creatures—although I think I’ve always been the one. I’ve found happiness at last.

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About the Author

L.S. Barron

Laurie enjoys taking advantage of the warm desert air in the winters and roams the mountains of Colorado in the summers. She is a retired fire captain and is now taking advantage of her time to develop her writing skills. On many occasions you can find her at the local coffee shop working on her next story.

Laurie likes to point out that her six grandchildren contribute many of the ideas for her stories and she often uses their creative thoughts in her books. Their language skills come in handy when working on any middle-grade or young-adult book. “Bro, that is so lit!”

Find out more about Laurie at her website.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

L.S. Barron Adorned in Blood Giveaway

L.S. BARRON IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 6TH April 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

 

Book Blitz & Excerpt: One Motion More + Giveaway

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One Motion More
by L.A. Tavares

Word Count: 83,762
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 314

GENRES:

CELEBRITIES
CHICK LIT
ROMANCE
SWEET ROMANCE

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Actions speak louder than words.

Long-haired bad-boy guitarist Xander has skeletons in his closest that refuse to stay dead. After a series of setbacks, Xander hits new lows, almost costing himself his reputation and career. While trying to take steps in the right direction toward better decisions and good choices, he meets Natalie, and for the first time—maybe ever—Xander sees past himself and past the music his rock band is famous for.

Their relationship is an unlikely one, with outside factors creating obstacles the two would have to tackle to make their love work.

He is reckless while she responsible.

He thrives in the spotlight while she will do anything to avoid it.

He speaks fluent profanity while she doesn’t speak at all.

He works to win her heart, despite having to overcome the communication barrier, while she tries to look past the intensity of the spotlight they find themselves in.

Excerpt

The locked, guarded door and shiny new mark on my already scarred record are laughable penalties. The real punishment is the smell in these small quarters—body odors, stale alcohol. One thing is for sure… There are no VIP suites in New York police stations.

More like a bench than a bed, the slab of flat ceramic I lay on is uncomfortable and determined to punish me with back problems that will last longer than this overnight hold.

My eyes snap shut each time I try to open them—an involuntary response to block out the outdated fluorescent light overhead. I press the palms of my hands into my eye sockets and run my fingers through my overgrown hair. Sure, the lights don’t help my already throbbing head and the sleeping arrangement is a far cry from comfortable, but the atmosphere is ‘welcoming’. I purposely bent the rules just far enough to win myself a one-night, all-inclusive stay at the nearest precinct.

Quiet. No crowds. No screaming fans. Nowhere for me to be, no way for me to screw up. Most people would find the locked doors, silence and lack of company alarming. Not me. For me, it’s tranquil. A vacation. Maybe that’s why I frequent the sin-bin so often.

“Hey there, sunshine,” a plump guard says, opening the thick-paned glass door so it swings into the hallway. He leans into the metal door frame, holding a large stick of beef jerky in one hand, tearing off a chunk between his teeth and chewing so I can hear it.

“The doors are a nice upgrade,” I say through a yawn as I knock on the glass. “They were bars when I was here last.”

He gnaws on the dried meat, unamused. “There’s someone here to pick you up,” he says as he chews, spewing small chunks of meat and saliva as he speaks.

“Aw, so soon?” I bring myself to my feet and stretch—every muscle protests. “Guess I’m not twenty-one anymore, eh?” I ask.

“Maybe you should stop trying to be,” he says. His stone expression remains as such.

“Noted,” I add, and salute him as I step away from the cell, turn around and head toward the station’s lobby to retrieve my sunglasses and cell phone before heading out of the doors.

Blake—my bass guitarist and lifelong best friend—leans against a car I’ve never seen before, opens the back door and gets in without waiting for me to approach him. He slides to the opposite side of the hired car and I slide in next to him, closing the door as the driver pulls away from the curb.

“How bad this time?” I ask, one side of my mouth lifting at the corner.

“You really don’t remember?” he asks.

“No. That was the whole point.” I drop my phone into the breast pocket of my shirt and place my sunglasses over my eyes.

Blake tilts back the top of a box of Marlboro Reds, a flagrant disregard of the No Smoking sticker adhered to the car’s dash. The lingering tobacco smell of the car tells me he’s already broken that rule.

“Never fear,” I say, elbowing him in the arm. “Social media and the news will remind me, I’m sure.”

“If Cooper doesn’t kill you first,” Blake adds, cracking the window and fishing for a Bic in his breast pocket. His words come out draped in a mix of his slightly faded South African accent and the dialect he has picked up during his years in the States.

Blake moved into my house at a time when his mother couldn’t provide for him anymore—right as we started tenth grade and, truthfully, his appearance hasn’t changed much since I met him in junior high. He looks almost the same way now as he did then, down to his stupid blond-tipped faux hawk and slightly spaced teeth. Only now, the tall, slender physique he boasted back then has morphed into a ‘definitely enjoys beer’-type body. Though, the same could be said for me.

The car arrives back at the venue where we are set to have our second show in a back-to-back schedule.

We enter the building and Blake walks ahead of me by about five strides. I am in no condition to keep up. He turns a corner, disappearing from view. As I turn the same corner, Cooper, our band’s manager, is standing there waiting for me. Startled, I jump out of my boots and my stomach takes a drop it can barely handle. I swallow back whatever threatens to make a reappearance.

“Jeez—” I start, but he has no intention of letting me talk.

“Leave,” he says, his eyes an even deeper brown than they usually are, enhanced by the dark bags beneath them. “Go find food, water and a shower. Whatever it is you need to do to clean up and be ready for today.”

“I’ll be ready, Coop. I always am.”

“You should be grateful we have a show today because I can tell you—no, I can promise you—if I didn’t need you today, you would still be sitting in that cell.” Cooper paces the width of the hallway, pausing every few moments to make a hand gesture my direction, as if he can’t walk and shake his fist all at the same time. “You’re lucky the cops here are fans of yours, you know. There will come a day where just being Xander Varro doesn’t get you what you want. Your status won’t get you out of everything forever. The sooner you understand that the better.”

“I had a few drinks. I was having a good time—”

“Drunk and disorderly, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest.” Cooper starts listing off, using his fingers to keep track of all the misdemeanors. “This band can’t keep a publicist because they’re tired of covering for you. You can’t keep yourself out of the negativity and the spotlight. You’re dependent on drama. You’re going to be a father, for crying out loud. When do you plan to grow up, Xander? When is enough, enough?”

He’s right, but I’m too proud to admit it. Cooper’s growl shifts to a hushed pause, allowing me to say my piece or apologize, but I don’t do either, so he continues, filling the silent void.

“This isn’t just about you, you know. Your band counts on you. Your fans count on you. I count on you. Someday your kid will count on you, and you are becoming the kind of guy who can’t be counted on.” His pacing comes to a halt and his eyes soften. His voice quiets, falling so calm that I would almost prefer the yelling. “You have it all, Xander. Everything. Stop trying to throw it all away.”

I nod, a silent response, even though I know Cooper wants more from me. It’s all I have to offer.

“Just go, Xander,” he says. “Come back when you’re ready to be on that stage and not a second sooner.”

“Can you send a car to take me back to the hotel?”

“You can walk.”

I laugh at his joke, but the sound becomes a scoff when I realize he’s serious. I nod without enthusiasm and turn toward the door, slamming my bodyweight into the metal push bar though the signs clearly indicate Emergency Exit Only.

The hotel is only just over a mile away, but I’m still annoyed. These boots definitely were not made for walking. My feet are throbbing by the time I arrive at the lavish hotel doors. The lock clicks as I hold the key card to the door of the hotel room that I was supposed to be long-checked-out of. I lay on the bed longer than I should, ignoring the clothes and other items strewn across it. A red light blinks at the base of the landline phone the hotel provides, most likely a wakeup call ordered by Cooper or a message about the late fees incurred as a result of the ignored check-out. I almost delete it without listening, figuring whatever message it holds is either now irrelevant or I just don’t care what it has to say.

But I click it, and my girlfriend’s voice is on the other end. I smile at first, listening to her words.

“Hey, it’s Mariah.”

But the smile fades to a flatline. Why would she call the hotel and not my cell phone?

“I have something to tell you.”

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First For Romance

About the Author

L. A. Tavares

When it comes to romance, L A doesn’t have a type. Sometimes it’s dark and devastating, sometimes it’s soft and simple – truly, it just depends what her imaginary friends are doing at the time she starts writing about them.

L A has moved to various parts of the country over the last ten years but her heart has never left Boston.

And no, the “A” does not stand for Anne.

Follow LA on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

L.A. Tavares’ One Motion More Giveaway

L.A. TAVARES IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 23rd March 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz: Anne Ever After, by Lynne Marshall

Anne Ever After

 

Anne Ever After
Return to Whispering Oaks, Book 1
by Lynne Arshall

Sweet Contemporary Romance

Date Published: February 15, 2021

From USA Today Bestselling author, Lynne Marshall comes a new sweet contemporary romance series, Return to Whispering Oaks. Anne Ever After is the first book in the series

The runaway returns…

Love is complicated, at least that was Anne Grady’s conclusion after a high school love triangle went terribly, and unpredictably wrong. Shortly after the tragic events, she left Whispering Oaks and heartbreak behind. Now twelve years later, she returns home to take care of her injured parents, and almost immediately runs into her first love, Jack Lightfoot.

Jack hasn’t forgotten his feelings for Anne, long after dating and losing Anne’s best friend. Now faced with her in his life again, even though only temporary, he can’t deny the spark still shimmering between them. Neither can she, but her job in Portland is waiting and her plan is to leave town a soon as possible.

Now, with love even more complicated, and those tragic memories threatening to pull them apart, Jack refuses to let history repeat itself. He must prove they are meant to be more than high school best buddies who once shared an amazing secret kiss. This time, no matter what it takes, Jack is determined to convince Anne the only place they belong is together.

Purchase Link

Amazon


About The Author


USA Today Bestselling author, Lynne Marshall has been traditionally published with Harlequin and Mills & Boon as a category romance author for fifteen years with thirty-one books. TULE Publishing is where she hit the USA Today list with the second book in the Charity, Montana trilogy, Their Christmas Miracle. She has now gone hybrid, self-publishing ten books. She is a Southern California native, has been married to a New Englander for a long time. She is an adoring grandmother, a woman of faith, a dog lover, a cat admirer, a meandering walker, a curious traveler, and an optimistic participant in this wild journey called life.

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