Sunday, 29 March 2015

All Aboard by Samna Ghani

Book Blurb

Violet Osborne, a successful lawyer and workaholic, had given up all hope of ever finding a man she could love and trust. Things change dramatically for her when she decides to go on a dream vacation to Europe. Her idealist romantic notions had made her believe that the right type of man did not exist ... until she met the wrong type.... Or so she thought.

Reed Kendall, a handsome and dashing playboy never thought he would feel the need to settle down. Wealth and women came easy to him. His work was all he was really passionate about until he meets Violet. Seducing women had never been much of a challenge for him and he didn’t expect it to be any different with Violet... or so he thought.

Sparks fly as Reed and Violet try to resist each other... but some people are just too hard to resist.

Book Excerpt 

“Please go away,” she said very softly, trying to appear super controlled.
“Not before we’ve clarified some things,” Reed answered.
“Don’t worry. Everything is crystal clear to me. It’s not your fault, really. I was stupid enough to misread your signals. I should have known you use these charming tactics on all women,” she said. Her head pounded. She didn’t want to deal with this anymore.
“Violet, you didn’t misread anything. You have to listen to me please,” Reed insisted. He came close to her and she jumped.
“Please no, don’t come near me. You know the effect you have on me and I won’t let you exploit it anymore,” she said.
“I am not exploiting anything. Please Violet, calm down,” he said in a soothing voice.
He was still trying to play her. “Calm down? You want me to calm down? Reed, I am not one of your toys. I am not Nicole. Please leave.”
“Not before you listen to me,” Reed insisted.
“Fine. If you won’t leave, then I will,” she said and hurried toward the door. But before she could leave, Reed stepped in between. He pinned her against the wall, and held her arms tight. “Stop it. Stop fighting this,” he said softly. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Book Release - The Dark Side of God by Nicholas Boving

Nicholas Boving,  the author and publisher of the Maxim Gunn series of action/adventure books has just released a new book titled "The Dark Side of God". 

Book Blurb
David Morgan, an investigative journalist researching the dissolution of an ancient abbey is fascinated by a sidebar to what he sees as just another piece he can uncover and sell to the highest bidder.
Sylvanus Falconi owns the land around the Abbey of St Mary Zion and is the last in a family line that stretches back to a Roman Centurion, Gaius Sylvanus Falconius who witnessed the Crucifixion. He is the final guardian of a dark and explosive secret called simply, “The Keeping”.

The story is a deadly chess game between Falconi and Morgan culminating in battle on the Downs of Sussex and a final act of unbelievable destruction.

“The Dark Face of God” is part biographical exploration, part love story and part exposé of the Falconi family’s long-guarded secret in a world of darkness and the occult.

Book Excerpt  -  A very short first chapter.



The star illuminated the mouth of the cave in the Judean hills, and the woman squatted on her heels, gently rocking her newborn child, suckling it at her breast as she watched the camel train busily about its night camp in the valley below. Her face, with red lips and sultry kohl-darkened eyes told of her way of life. She looked what she was, a harlot, but still she knew that the child she had born was the latest and one of the most important in a long line that stretched back to the mud walled cities of the plains and the land between two rivers, and would continue till the promise was fulfilled.
That afternoon she had seen the caravan arrive, had watched the three men and their attendants, and had known instinctively who they were and to where they journeyed.
She had smiled. It was not the gentle smile of a young mother, but the knowing smile of one who carried a great secret.
Hers also had been a virgin birth, but she had known of the other which had been conceived as hers had, at the same moment in time, for the infants were twinned, of the same father. But hers differed in that the girl child she had born was sired by the dark side of that father.
In all things there are opposites, for that is the nature of all under the heavens. There is balance, good and evil, plus and minus, and as the child born in the town of Bethlehem was male and the son of the god of light, so hers was female and the daughter of the god of darkness. To the Devil had been born a daughter.
The woman rose, pulled the child from her swollen nipple, and retreated to the back of the cave and the warmth of the fire, for it was a winter night and the snow had begun to fall. She laid the baby in a nest of grasses and lamb’s wool and touched the tiny face.
“Thy name shall be Esther, my child, for the great star that moves across the sky this night.”
That night by the flickering light of the fire she scratched her name on the rock wall and thus became the first of many.

Book Link

You can also connect with Nicholas:

Taurus Publishing.

Amazon Author Page: 


Congratulations Nicholas and best of luck :-)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Book Release - A Mystery for Marissa by Alison Jean Ash

The first story of the Monday Mystery Society anthology has just been released by Books To Go Now. A Mystery for Marissa is the first story in this anthology. The anthology itself revolves around ten individuals who find love in the midst of a Mystery Book Club in a small town called Oakville.

A Mystery for Marissa is the story of Rob who has found the woman of his dreams--but 
Marissa stiffens up at the very hint that he might ask her out.  Thinking fast, the young 
bookstore owner invents a mystery reading group, just for the chance to spend some time 
with the gorgeous nurse.  Now the biggest mystery on his mind is how far he’ll have to go to 
get her attention.  Does he need to show up wounded in her ER?

Alison Ash says she really enjoyed working on this anthology with Carol Ann Kauffman, J.W. Stacks, Giulietta Spudich and Samna Ghani. "This story was a lot of fun to write, for two reasons.  One, it was my first time taking part in an anthology.  Since I originated the anthology and wrote the first story of the five, I got to work in everyone else's characters.  One of Carol Ann Kauffman's characters became the best friend I hadn't realized my hero needed!  JW Stacks' heroine was too monosyllabic until her romance in story #3 for me to do much with her, but one of Giulietta Spudich's comic characters became a running gag for us all.  The second fun thing was that I got to invite the other writers to my fictional town of Oakville, and tell them where all the best restaurants and cafes were.

I'm involved in three more upcoming anthologies, another one with Samna here, and another one with JW, and a third with another group of authors.  I see we're all approaching the collaboration in different ways, but it's always fun, sharing our drafts with each other, making sure we've got each other's characters right, looking at the same incidents through different pairs of eyes.  It's making me grow as a writer, and I hope to do many more anthologies in the future.

This story, by the way, is dedicated to the people who provide me with my favorite forms 
of entertainment:  librarians and booksellers, and soccer players.  I became a soccer fan late in life--I like to call myself a soccer hooligan-- and Rob's passion for the game, and the soccer matches I describe, are based on personal observation.  I also really want to thank another romance writer, Suzan Colón at for letting me use her photo of a bookstore as my cover background."  

Book Excerpt

   In a blessedly short time the agony in his leg began to retreat—along with the rest of the world, his inhibitions, and his common sense.
Adrift now, he floated somewhere above the pain. Everything looked unreal to him, soft and hazy and blurred around the edges—everything but Marissa.
“You are … without a doubt… most beautiful woman… ever seen in my life. I’ll do… anything… for a chance to see you… anything… including… broken ankle.”
She laughed, and replied tartly, “That’s the drug talking.”
“Correckshun,” Rob said carefully. His mouth felt fuzzy, and his tongue seemed to have doubled in size. “Thass the drug… letting me talk. Knew… firsh time I shaw you … you’re the one. Bet you din know…shtarted Monday Myshtery … jush to shee you ‘gain…”
Marissa stared down at him, half laughing and half frowning. “You’re crazy, Rob—not to mention stoned out of your skull. What am I going to do with you?”
“Kish me?”

Book Link 

You can connect with Alison Ash:

Great chatting with you Alison. Best of luck with your new book. Thank you :-) 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Featured Author - Natasha Lane

Natasha Lane is a born and raised Baltimorian.  Before she ever attempted writing, Natasha had a particular love for fantasy, romance and certain hybrid genres. Slowly, she began to dive into the therapy of writing. First, she wrote poems, then short stories and finally, her first novel at age 13.

Natasha has now published her first book, "A Meeting at the Grocery Store" and "Waiting for Mistletoe." She plans to explore more genres of literature and focus on continuing her work as a writer. She hopes her work will be as inspirational to her readers as her favorite authors were to her. I asked her a few questions and this is what she had to say: 

Why do you write?

Initially when I started writing my motivations were purely selfish. My childhood was very dysfunctional with many aspects of my life out of my control. Writing was a way to express all of my feelings; the feelings that no one else would listen to and that I had to hide because I needed to be strong. It was also a way to exercise control over something. I had complete domain over the plot and the characters. In this way, writing was therapeutic.

Now, my motivations have changed. Of course, I still write to express myself and allow my ideas to come to life, but I desire more than that. I want my writing to inspire people the way the authors I read inspired me. I want to give people hope, joy and epiphanies through my writing.

Which writers inspire you?

I think I’ll list the authors and the books I read by them. The list isn’t ranked.

First, is Marc Brown, writer and illustrator of the Arthur book series. I loved the books and the tv shows. Arthur and Mr. Brown really helped me develop my morals and most importantly they taught me that glasses could be cool. :-)

Second, Carolyn Mackler, author of The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things. This is one of my favorite YA novels. Thanks to Ms. Mackler I learned to love myself, not so much for how I physically looked, but simply because of who I was. I admired the main character and wanted to emulate her strength. Ms, Mackler also wrote Vegan, Virgin, Valentine. Both come highly recommended.

Third, The Giver by Lois Lowry. One of my favorite reads ever! Never be afraid to question social constructs or authority. You’ll be surprised what truths you’ll find.

George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. Do I really have to say it? Both these books were fabulous, providing a darker and arguably more realistic side to literature. Always consider the natural tendencies of your community. Do humans naturally lean towards good or evil? And who is really in control of your life?

Finally, I have to say Lariss Ione, author of the Demonica Series. I didn’t finish the whole series (it’s on my to-do list), but if you want some hot romance look no further! I don’t know if you would label it romance, erotic or both, but either way this series kept my attention. Judge away, if you wish :-)

Extra: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

What is your favorite book and why?

Now we all know there is no such thing as a favorite book. It’s more like a wall of my favorite books…or a cave.

What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the most difficult?

Imagining is the easiest. I could day dream up characters and plots all day. The difficulty arises when you try to match the right characters with the right plot. Writing becomes even more difficult with character development (caused by some new change in the plot or another character). I always wonder if my writing is obvious enough for the reader to catch, but subtle enough that I’m still showing instead of telling.

From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written? 

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis. I read two of the chronicles and plan to read the others. I admire this series because the book is very symbolic, meaningful and just a great read for fantasy lovers.

How do you market your books? 

Usually, through Facebook, Goodreads, review requests, pre-sale blitz and giveaways. People love giveaways and I don’t blame them. Who doesn’t love free stuff? I plan to start doing more book trailers to give something to those who are a little more visual.

Any new release? If yes, what is it about?

Currently, I am working on a science fiction short story that I hope to get published in a journal or magazine. The story is titled, Plugged In, and transports the reader to a futuristic world where the society has been divided into a corrupt social hierarchy.

The next novel I’m working on is the sequel to my first book, A Meeting at the Grocery Store. Unlike the first novel, the sequel won’t focus on Jaheim and Natalie. It will look at the side character, Ted and his love life post-heart break. I expect to have this novel written by the fall.

However, if you’re looking for something by me to get now, than my most recent work is A Cookie for Two. It’s included in the Valentine’s In Love anthology as a short story. A Cookie for Two is a sweet romance about two people who aren’t trying to fall in love, but find themselves tangled up in it together. I’ll include the blurb below.

Book blurb

Daniella’s sitting alone in a Korean restaurant after being stood up twice in two weeks. She’s irritated, confused, angry and cold because as a California girl she still hasn’t adjusted to the Michigan climate. She’s surrounded by snow, but is dreaming of warm weather and her family when someone places a steaming bowl of soup in front of her…

Book excerpt 

I walked towards Mathew’s restaurant with a scarf wrapped snuggly around my face. It wasn’t snowing, but because it was late there was a distinct chill in the air. Still, for the first time since moving to Traverse City, I felt warm. Mitch may have turned out to be a jerk, but thanks to him I found a friend in Mathew.
My first friend in Michigan.
I looked up to see Mathew waving at me from the front of his parent’s restaurant. I smiled and waved back. He leaned against the door, so I tucked my scarf in and ran towards him.
“You didn’t have to run,” he said
I panted and smiled at the same time. “I didn’t want to keep you waiting.”
He chuckled, “I wouldn’t mind.”
Then, he smiled down at me and I could feel the color rise to my cheeks. Mathew was different meaning different than California boys. First off he was as pale as the snow and his hair was dark like coal.
 I wonder if it has ever been touched by the sun.
He was tall with broad shoulders and a broad chest that smoothed down to a narrow waist. His face was very structured with clear lines of where everything was supposed to be, as if he had been pieced together in a doll shop. And then his eyes…shaped like diamonds with two small pearls of onyx in them…watching me watching him.
I didn’t want to make things awkward, but awkward was kind of my middle name and so I kept staring at him, until he looked away.
He smiled, “Next time, don’t run, okay? I’ll wait for you.”

Additional info

Book Links:
A Meeting at the Grocery Store:
Waiting for Mistletoe:
Valentine’s In Love:
A Cookie for Two:

Friday, 20 March 2015

Featured Author - Carol Ann Kauffman

I am so glad to feature Carol Ann Kauffman on my blog today. Carol is from the Midwest; a retired teacher from a local school district where she taught for thirty-five years. Carol is quite diverse having worked as a printer, managed a department store office, and worked for an insurance agency. She loves to travel; her favorite places being Italy, and Aruba, which show up in her novels quite a bit. She loves to play Bridge and to garden. She grows African violets and orchids.

Carol is the author of the Time After Time series, which follows a pair of lovers through their many lifetimes together. Her novels, classified as romantic action adventures with a sci-fi/ fantasy twist, are about life, love, loss, and lunacy.  Sounds just like my kind of thing :-) Carol was nice enough to answer a few questions. Enjoy! 

Why do you write?

I never make the conscious decision to write.  I’ve been writing down my thoughts, journaling ever since I can remember, and when I was teaching I encouraged my students to do the same.  It helps me focus better.  It helps me organize my thoughts.  I’ve heard it even lowers one’s blood pressure. I wrote wildly when I was young.  Then… career, family, life got in the way and the only writing I did was journaling.  After I retired, I picked it up again and now I must write every day.

Which writers inspire you?

My favorite authors are M.C. Beaton (Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin series), Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum), Sue Grafton (A is for Abili, B is for…), Dan Brown, to name a few.  I like an author who drags me into the book no matter how I am feeling when I sit down to read, one who can make me put everything else aside and just read.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

I would say the easiest part for me is coming up with the cast of characters and then making a detailed character profile for each of them with everything I would need to know about them and then some.

What is the most difficult part?

I tend to suffer from too many subplots.  One publisher wanted to divide my novel into three separate books.  I wasn’t thrilled with the idea, so I declined.  Though a few subplots are good, too many can certainly strangle a good story. Simplifying my story line is the hardest part for me.

What is your favorite book and why?

Oh, this changes weekly!  The more I read, the more often it changes.  It also depends on my mood.  My favorite romance, my favorite sci-fi book, my favorite fantasy.  I like Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, partially because I’ve been to many of the locations in Italy he depicted.  I also like Passers by Loretta Laird, an Indie author from Australia.  She created a Tolkien-type world involving a princess and a passer that explored the love vs. duty concept.  And it was beautiful.

From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written?

Easy! Diana Galbadon’s Outlander.

How do you market your books?

I just like to write them, that’s all.  I wrote four novels the first year, and four the second.  Then I took a year off to attempt to market them.  Writing is fun.  Marketing is hard work and I am not one to push myself on people.  So I listened to what others said.  Then I reformatted, re-edited, hired an editor and a cover artist, and re-launched my novels, one by one. I use social media.  I do book signings.  I do giveaways.  Some months I do well.  December was horrible.  I try to get my book into the hands of a person I think will enjoy it.  It’s more one book at a time than one day at a time.  I will accept any help I can get.

Any new releases?

LORD OF BLAKELEY has just been re-released.  It has been completely reformatted.  It has a beautiful new cover and is now also available in paperback.

Book Description:

The series, TIME AFTER TIME, follows a pair of quintessential lovers, Richard and Nicole, through their lives together, in different places, in different times, with different names and faces and sometimes even on other planets. This follows the alternative theory that the relationships we forge in this lifetime, both the good and the bad, are continued into the future, and are rooted deeply in our past. Whatever we do, whomever we love, and the good and evil deeds we do today follow us into the future. Unsettled issues will present themselves again and again, until they are ultimately resolved. Those people who have had a profound effect on us in this lifetime will find us again in the future. And although everything changes, love remains.

Books in the TIME AFTER TIME series are: BLUE LAKE, BELTERRA,
The BASLICATO, BENTLEY SQUARE, WAITING FOR RICHARD, and LORD OF BLAKELEY. They do not need to be read in order.

Lord of Blakeley is the story of Andrew of Blakeley, a simple farm boy who lives on a primitive future planet. He is chosen by the lovely Lady Aleese to be her mate and rises to become the most powerful man on the planet. But a jealous man with access to mobile transport devices wreaks havoc on the young couple’s happiness, separating them, her on an alien rock planet and he, aboard a slave ship, and then dumping them in present-day Chicago. One day Aleese vanishes into thin air and Andrew is arrested for her murder and must stand trial. It is a story of devotion and jealousy, of loss and lunacy. And, in true Time After Time fashion, a story of love.

Book Link:

Book Excerpt:

Stolen in the Night
Location: Blakeley Province, Planet of Nord, Year 2075

“I’m going in to get her,” he said calmly and quietly.
“No, Lord Andrew, it’s too dangerous. They’ll kill you, and not right away. If that bastard Samuel Bishop and his men find you before you find her and get back here, you know what they will do to you. You need to re-think this course of action. At least let’s wait until morning. Then Carmine will take a team and go in and get her. You need to stay here. We need you. You shouldn’t go. And you definitely shouldn’t go alone,” Jared warned.
“No. I’m going in after her. Now. Her safety always comes first with me. You know that. I’ll be able to find her, Jared. I know I will. And rescuing my woman is my job. Unlock the transport dock and have a security team stand ready. What were the last signals?”
“Three in, four out.”
“Damn it!” he said holding his head. “How did they manage to get in here with the aperture closed? And nobody saw or heard anything?”
“Well, Ruth said Lady Aleese was called out to help a baby burning up with fever. You were asleep. She didn’t want to wake you.” He shook his head in dismay. Yes, Aleese would go running out to help. And no, she wouldn’t want to wake him.
“Once this link is opened, who knows what evil may come rushing through that eye. Security team in place. Now. I’ll be leaving as soon as possible.”
Jared left to ready the transport dock and alert a security team. He was pushing buttons and flipping switches.
“Carmine, we need a security team to the transport room right now. He’s going in after her. I couldn’t talk him out of it.”
“We’re on our way, Jared. We knew he’d go.”
Within minutes, Andrew, Lord of Blakely strode calmly and confidently into the transport room, followed by
security team taking aim at the aperture. Andrew stood inside the transport dock.
“I’ll be back within the hour with Aleese. Stun anyone or anything else comes through this aperture, full stun, and lock them up until I return. I will deal with them personally. Tell no one I have gone,” said Andrew.
“Weapons on maximum stun,” Carmine ordered his team.
“I understand,” said Jared. “When the Lord of Blakeley goes tearing off alone in the middle of the night on a doomed, dangerous, foolhardy mission to rescue his Lady who has been stolen in the night, it promotes fear and panic among their loyal subjects who love both dearly. This is a sad day for Blakeley, Lord Andrew. We could lose the both of you tonight.”
“Enough. Bishop is an animal. She’s terrified of him. I have to go right now.”
“It’s a trap. You know it’s a trap. Bishop is using her as bait. They came sneaking in here and stole her away in the middle of the night just to piss you off.”
“Oh, it worked! And I’m going in. But it’s not me he wants, Jared. He wants her. And now... he’s got her. But not for long.”
“Okay,” sighed Jared. “Good luck. Be careful. Go get her and bring her home. Godspeed.”
“Thank you. Open.”

You can also connect with Carol:
Twitter at @Cay47.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Featured Author - James Duncan

Today's featured author is James Duncan. He writes books for both children and adults. His book, 'The Making Of Me', starring 'The Exmoor Yarnies' was a collaboration between James and husband and wife team - Peter and Jeanette Bunt.  James has two adult books in the pipeline. They are satirical adventures with an element of spirituality. They explore modern society and its mores. Moreover, they are very funny and entertaining. James was kind enough to answer a few questions. Enjoy :-) 

Why do you write?

I write because I have always had a vivid imagination. As a child I was always daydreaming and writing. As an adult I found it fun observing strange or interesting characters and putting them into a book. I start with only a basic plot, then what the characters do - they are quite autonomous - drives the plot and the story forward. Writing is also a great release. Stuff that makes me angry I write in a comedic, satirical way and that makes me feel better!

Which writers inspire you?

So many and the list is growing! As a child it was Roald Dahl. I love his magical, wicked, inventive fun. I love George Orwell. He writes about serious and heavy subjects with a light, wry touch. Even though he deals with the tragedy of human existence – poverty, corrupt political systems, war – he always manages to make his writing entertaining. He offers no answers, merely that if we examine ourselves and the world around us maybe that would make a difference. I find that uplifting. Iain Banks I love for his black humour, Paulo Coelho I love for his optimistic spiritual writing.

What is your favorite book and why?

My favourite book is Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell. Orwell, although from a well-to-do background, chose to slum it in these cities and find out what it is really like to be poor by experiencing it himself. What you get is the most authentic study of poverty possibly ever written. You feel his starvation, you are consumed by the desperation and fetid odours. When he manages to get a meal you devour it ravenously with him. I remember to be grateful when I read this book.

What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the most difficult?

When I have my characters and I plunge into the writing and I just know the story is going to progress satisfactorily. That's the easiest thing about writing. The hardest thing about writing often starts at chapter four, sometimes later, when you have to change gears in your writing and come up with solutions to problems posed. The autonomy of the characters, I mentioned, stops working from time to time, and that is when I have to try and come up with good ideas rather than clichés.

From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written?

I would have loved to have written The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. It's pretty sick black humour, but also inventive, hilarious good fun.

How do you market your books?

I use Twitter, Google Plus, just looking into promotion companies, there are plenty of free and pay-for sites you can place your book online. Also join Goodreads where you can get invaluable reviews. I also review books on my blog which makes many more people aware of you as a writer and blogger.

Any new release? If yes, what is it about?

Yes, not long ago, released Crazy On You on kindle. It's a gangster rom-com set in London and New York. Archie Pope, member of London Pope Crew falls in love with New York don's daughter, Isabella Commarata. Such a “crime” is a death sentence, her father, Giovanni Commarata, is a psychopath, and he has anyone with designs on his precious daughters immediately executed.

Book blurb

The worlds of the New York Mafia and the top London crime syndicate are about to collide! The much feared Pope Crew, a bunch of psychopathic criminals, try to pull off a multi-million weapon trafficking deal with the murderous Mafia Don, Giovanni Commarata. Then Archie Pope, a kitten and flower loving softie blows it by falling for Giovanni's daughter, Isabella - a "crime" punishable by death. War is declared between the two factions. The Popes team up with the Zaffutos - a family under Giovanni's control, and vicious and explosive urban warfare breaks out. All Archie wants to do is woo his beloved Isabella. Everyone else wants him to kill her father. Not ideal conditions for an otherwise beautiful courtship! This is a rom-com with a difference. It's probably the most terse, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat rom-com ever written. Touching but deadly.
She moved in for the kiss and our lips met with an urgent force as we necked wildly. A long time passed before we were finished. Isabella opened her eyes and smiled at me. Then her eyes flashed over to somewhere behind me and a look of horror filled her face. 

'Oh my God! Archie! It's Papa!' 

 The main reason why I am still alive is that I have hypersonic reflexes. I dived to the ground, pulling Isabella with me. Bullets whizzed overhead. The bodies of nightclub ravers standing at the bar fell. Several bullets' destination was the optics and it shattered from the almighty impact, hurtling cascades of glass and liquor across and over the bar, glass shards penetrating the backs of bartenders and the faces and bodies of customers. I spun myself around, hauling out my gun as I spun on my stomach. I held it aloft, pushing the safety level down to fire position, my finger straining against the trigger; I would shoot the micro-second I observed my target. The spin completed, my brain registered 6 armed, black ski-masked figures. Giovanni was eminently identifiable, from his stocky body shape and his cold eyes that wouldn't have looked out of place in a cobra's head. I discharged my semi-auto frantically... 
Book excerpt

My heart stopped beating for what seemed like an eternity...

Then it was pounding harder and faster than it ever had before.

A young woman of extraordinary beauty was approaching. Olive skin, raven black hair, exotic eyes, stunning figure – this vision of an angel hardly looked at me. I had to speak to her before she passed out of sight and out of my life forever. No woman had ever made me feel like this before. Do you believe in love at first sight? Well, I never had until this moment. I had never even known what love felt like. In this moment I felt that I knew exactly what love feels like. It was the oddest feeling I had ever had. I felt like one fry short of a Happy Meal. Yeah, there had been plenty of women. I had had some dysfunctional relationships with women who got off on geezers like me, or rather, the geezer I was pretending to be. There had never been a connection with any one of them. It had all been devoid of emotion and feeling, ego driven, superficial, and so unsatisfying and empty, it was always a relief when they finally did a runner.

I stepped into her path, grinning broadly.

‘Hi, I’m Archie – what’s your name?’

She gave me a nervous little look, before replying, ‘You must excuse me, I’m in a hurry.’

And then she rushed to the other side of the foyer. I, of course, followed her. She walked towards the glass-encased wall and leant staring out at the bright sunny day. I crept up behind her.

‘You still haven’t told me your name,’ I whispered in her ear. She jumped practically out of her skin.

‘Isabella,’ she murmured as she clutched her chest, panting.

‘You’re very pretty, Isabella,’ I said with my charming Pope smile.

‘I’m sorry, I really must go.’ She turned to walk past when I placed my hand on her arm gently. A tingling shiver swept through my body, causing a light moan to slip from my lips.

‘Why, where are you goin’, babe?’

She looked at me properly for the first time. Her eyes widened and she blushed deeply.

‘Well, nowhere’s just that...why are you here?’

‘Doin’ some business with Giovanni – blimey, that geezer is so uptight!’

She looked nervously around the foyer.

‘You’d better believe it. He’s my father.’

‘Yeah? Well, my old man’s a nutjob but that geezer makes him look like Mary Poppins!’

She looked puzzled.

‘I’m sorry, I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about.’

I decided to focus on more important matters.

‘So what about you? Do you have a boyfriend?’

She smiled sadly and laughed harshly.

‘Oh yeah, I have many would-be boyfriends in the cemetery!’

That statement perturbed me somewhat.

‘What, you mean you go on the pull around hospices? ‘Darlin’, I’m too fragile to even kiss you!’ And the next day they’ve croaked?’

She frowned. ‘You make no sense. Much of what you say isn’t even English.’

‘Excuse me, love,’ I said, slightly affronted by this slur. ‘But I speak proper English. After all, my country invented the bleedin’ language. It’s you Yanks who don’t speak proper English!’

She laughed at that. She smiled at me warmly before her eyes did another nervous reccy of the surrounding area.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked. ‘What you so para about?’

‘“Para”? What’s “para”? Would you care to translate?’

‘It means “paranoid”. Para is short for paranoid.’

‘Well, stop being so lazy and use the whole word,’ she scolded me. Bloody hell, did I like being scolded by her! It sent tingles down my spine!

‘Yes, I am para about Papa or his henchmen finding us here talking. He will kill you immediately and that is a fact. Walk away now, Archie.’

‘No, I won’t walk away,’ I replied stubbornly. ‘Your old man must be bonkers!’



Isabella sighed deeply. ‘Yes, he is crazy.’

‘And you’re a right little sort.’

‘Are you being offensive?’

‘No, not at all. I mean I think you are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen!’

She blushed again, looking very pleased.

‘Would you like to go on a date with me, I mean, if you could?’

‘I would very much like to. But it’s impossible – it can never be.’

I looked down, feeling absolutely gutted. I must have been looking very sad, because Isabella touched my arm gently and said, ‘I would like to go on a date with you more than anything else, Archie. You’re a lovely man, I can tell. You’re different. You’re like me, trapped in a world you don’t belong in.’

There was something about her, something that tugged so deeply at my heartstrings, drawing me to her, needing her, wanting her. I knew now what love at first sight felt like, because when I saw Isabella for the first time, I was hooked completely and hopelessly taken in by her.

Our eyes met and we shared a communication of emotions that told us both everything we needed to know. It was like telepathy. It was a moment I would treasure for the rest of my life.

‘Hey, you! Get away from her!’

Commarata’s henchmen had appeared and they closed in on us, guns drawn. One of them shoved me away from Isabella, knocking me off my feet. I scrambled to my feet, overloaded with rage, ready to punch the asshole’s lights out. He put his revolver against my temple and shook his head vigorously.

The conference room door flew open and Giovanni and my family came out; guns were immediately pointed at my crew.

‘What the hell is going on?’ yelled Giovanni.

‘He was talking to your daughter!’ shouted back the henchman who had discovered us. ‘There was physical contact!’

Giovanni’s face contorted into a horrible visage of twisted hatred and anger.

‘You!’ he screamed at Isabella. ‘Upstairs – now!’

No!’ screamed back Isabella. ‘You’re not to kill them! Do you hear me? No more killing!’

Giovanni raised his arm and belted her around the face. The force of his blow sent her reeling. I lunged forward.

‘You dirty, filthy motherfucker – I’ll kill you!’ I bellowed, trying to reach Giovanni, before one of his men pistol-whipped me and I fell to the floor.

Isabella ran upstairs sobbing furiously.

‘Giovanni – surely this is not that serious,’ Charlie appealed to him. ‘I mean, they were only talking. It doesn’t have to affect business. I promise you that you’ll never see Archie again. I will discipline him for disrespecting you. I won’t let him off lightly, I promise you that.’

‘We have no business,’ said Giovanni coldly, icily calm. ‘Boys, kill them all – dispose of the bodies in the usual way.’

He walked back to his office, negating us all from his mind. He closed the door.

‘Now, fellas,’ said Charlie, unable to keep the tremor out of his voice. ‘How much is Commarata paying you? I’ll bung you a few million each if you just let us go.’

‘Which one first?’ said a henchman, cruelly oblivious to Charlie’s entreaty.

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