Sunday, April 30, 2017

COVER REVEAL - YA Fantasy - Colorless by Rita Stradling

by Rita Stradling
Publication date: August 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
In Domengrad, there are rules all must live by: Fear the Gods. Worship the Magicians. Forsake the Iconoclasts.

To Annabelle Klein, the rules laid down by the Magicians are the mere ramblings of stuffy old men. As far as she’s concerned, the historic Iconoclasts, heretics who nearly destroyed the Magicians so long ago, are nothing but myth. She has much more important matters to worry about.

Heiress to a manor mortgaged down to its candlesticks and betrothed to her loathsome, lecherous cousin, sixteen-year-old Annabelle doubts the gods could forsake her more.

Then Annabelle is informed of her parents’ sudden and simultaneous deaths, and all of the pigment drips out of her skin and hair, leaving her colorless. Within moments, Annabelle is invisible and forgotten by all who know her.

Living like a wraith in her own home, Annabelle discovers that to regain her color she must solve the mystery behind her parents’ murders and her strange transformation.

Meanwhile, hundreds of the Magicians’ monks, with their all-black eyes and conjoined minds, have usurped control of Annabelle’s family manor. An Iconoclast is rumored to be about—a person who they claim goes unseen, unheard, and lost to memory, yet is the greatest threat to all of Domengrad. For the first time in a hundred years, the monks plan to unleash the dire wolves of old.

Their only target: Annabelle.

Author Info
Rita Stradling is the author of The Deception Dance series, the Dakota Kekoa series and The Fourteen Day Soul Detox Novella Serial. She has a BA in Art History and a particular love for modern and medieval art.

Rita lives with her husband and son in Northern California.

She has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: romance, paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.
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BOOK BLITZ - Mason Dixon (Monster Hunter Episode 1) by Eric R. Asher

Mason Dixon
Monster Hunter Episode 1
by Eric R. Asher
Publication date: April 21st 2017
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
They are the first line of defense against the things that go bump in the night.

They are the keepers of a centuries-old legacy of The Church defending the world against the forces of darkness.

They are a bunch of highly armed rednecks, internet video celebrities, soccer moms, and assorted broken nutjobs.

They are the new Templars, and things are about to get weird.

From the pages of Bubba the Monster Hunter comes a new series featuring the Hunters from around the United States hunting down monsters, fighting off supernatural baddies, and making life really, really bad for the things that hunt people.

He’s Mason Dixon, and he’s a bona fide internet celebrity. He has his own video series, a pistol that deserves its own area code, and a high definition video camera, and he’s not afraid to use any of them.

In this introductory urban fantasy novella, we meet Mason, his right hand Emma, his “handler” Noah, his anime-styled hacker friend Himari, and more monsters than you can shake a stick at. Unless it’s a really big stick.
With Mason, it’s always a big stick. This first novella in the series follows Mason through the wilds of Missouri as he hunts down monsters that hunt men, monsters that eat chewing tobacco, and monsters that make pancakes. And there’s moonshine.

And then Bubba the Monster Hunter shows up.

The New Templars novella series is a new series of short novels, similar to BookShots. Mason Dixon – Monster Hunter is the first in the series by popular urban fantasy and steampunk author Eric R. Asher.
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“Out,” I said. “Get out of the pit. Safeties off.” I raised the stock to my shoulder and swept the area around us again.
Emma slipped and crashed into the pit, sending a cascade of stained white bones over the edge to clatter down into the limestone depression. We waited, and I could hear my own heartbeat pounding in my ears.
We both froze. I don’t care how many times you’ve encountered something in the wild, you still freeze for a split second.
“Move!” I hissed, backpedaling while keeping my tranquilizer aimed around Emma. She was almost out. We could get back on the ATVs and come back with bigger guns. 10cc darts? I should have brought the 50cc cannon. This was a mistake. The old man wasn’t crazy at all.
Boom. Boom. Boom. BoomBoomBoom.
The gowrow erupted from its lair like it had been spit forth by an angry god. Its stubby, bulbous body might have been humorous paired with its long scaly neck if not for the tusks fit for a mammoth gleaming in the dying sun. It would take that creature zero effort to kill us in one charge.
Its movements seemed awkward, but its attacks were practiced. The gowrow swiped at Emma with a four-toed webbed foot, a lethal claw extending from each digit. She fell backwards and rolled away, barely avoiding the attack.
Any doubt this gowrow was a maneater fled in a heartbeat.
I cranked the air pressure as high as it would go on the tranquilizer gun and fired. The dart rose slightly in a wind disturbance created by the massive creature and pinged harmlessly off the field of spiky scales lining its back. I cursed, flipped the butt of the rifle open, and loaded another dart.
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Author Info
Eric is a former bookseller, cellist, and comic seller currently living in Saint Louis, Missouri. A lifelong enthusiast of books, music, toys, and games, he discovered a love for the written word after being dragged to the library by his parents at a young age. When he is not writing, you can usually find him reading, gaming, or buried beneath a small avalanche of Transformers.
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BOOK BLITZ - The Devil’s Whisper by T.H. Moore

The Devil’s Whisper
by T.H. Moore
Publication date: May 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Dystopian, Suspense

Take a moment and imagine your history books devoid of war. Envision entire civilizations absent of heinous crimes against humanity. A planet spared from the plagues of slavery, cultural genocides, and the colonization of indigenous nations by foreigners. Would you dare make the choices necessary to maintain this Utopia in which universal peace existed? Could you ignore the Devil whispering in your ear, luring you away from a world in which loving your fellow man was the expectation, not the exception?

In a state of reverie, an impractical idea of world peace has given birth to a culture in which the human race has chosen to live free of violent criminals. Instead, criminals have been systematically exiled to the lone prison city, Katingal, constructed in a far corner of Earth. Sentenced for the remainder of their natural lives, the wicked pit themselves against their soulless brethren. Exposure, disease, and starvation claim their victims daily. Those who survive nature’s wrath negotiate the perils of the prison city through murder and cannibalism. All the while, this inimitable death sentence satisfies civilization’s aim to punish the world’s irretrievable outcasts.

Charles “Yäbälay” Gravo is the criminal mastermind behind the world’s largest human trafficking network. As a prime most-wanted fugitive, he sets into motion events that will forever alter the realities of both civilization’s Utopia and Katingal’s Hell.
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Though Charles felt relieved to have discovered Kristoff’s lair, he could see that the savage was surrounded by his men. Nevertheless, Charles surged ahead, his heart racing in tempo with his legs as he moved closer to his objective.
As Charles drew near, a commotion broke out on the balcony. The group of men were drinking, dancing, and fighting as if the balcony were a mosh pit. One reveler grabbed another, while a third man struck the unfortunate chap with a pipe. He buckled, and with one swift movement, the two men flung their victim from the balcony. His limp body fell twenty floors to the hard pavement below. Charles heard the thump when it hit, and the cheers from a group of men who had been waiting for it on the street.
“The king is offering sacrifices tonight,” one maniac on the balcony cheered, hooting down at the dead man sprawled on the pavement.
Charles quickened his pace, staying close to the edges of the road. He ducked into a nearby building and crouched down in a dark corner, using his hands to gather a pile of dirt. He took a mouthful of the water from his satchel and pushed it around his mouth to alleviate his thirst before releasing a thin, controlled stream onto the dirt pile. After mixing the water and dirt into a dark paste, he covered his pale face until all that remained visible were his green eyes.
As he continued his trek toward the epicenter of the city, Charles heard the faint symphony of suffering. Angry yells of men coming from the east and bloodcurdling screams of women pierced the night to the west. Moments later, he slid past a band of filthy men vying for ownership of a corpse like a pack of wolves.
Another ruckus was followed by another violent assault. Just like the one before him, the beaten man was thrown from the balcony. He screamed the entire way down while the maniacs rejoiced from above. Scavengers sprinted past Charles to the man’s broken body and started ripping him apart.
Kristoff’s acolytes leaned over the balcony railing and waved their arms in the air, chanting, “Kris-toff! Kris-toff! Kris-toff! The king of K-City!”
Charles was fifty yards from the barbed wire courtyard that secured the front entrance to the Apex building. Another scream of fear, followed by another thud, a pitched body, and the scurry of the scavengers. This time, Charles was close enough to hear bones snapping against the pavement. He took cover to avoid the scavengers, and waited while they butchered the latest sacrifice with their homemade weapons.
Charles darted along the side of the building until he spotted four men guarding the back doorway.
“Four offerings so far tonight,” one of the guards warned the other three. “Two more before it’s safe to go back up there.”
“You sound like a woman, Manta,” the smallest guard said.
“Fuck you, Hiro!” He laughed. “You look like a woman. Now give me some pussy, you dwarf!”
“Curse me again and I’ll take your tongue,” Hiro seethed, pulling a short knife from his belt.
The other three guards erupted into laughter. “You call that a knife?” said one. “The only thing that knife is good for is picking your rotting teeth.”
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Author Info
T.H. Moore is a Southwest Philadelphia native who relocated to Camden, New Jersey at the age of ten. He’s an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Morgan State University. His career as an Information Technology Consultant and Real-Estate investor has afforded him the opportunity to travel to many countries all over the world as well as the majority of the United States. Blending experience with imagination helped formulate the basis of, and inspired him to write his first novel, ‘The End Justifies the Means’.

His second novel, The Devil’s Whisper, is uniquely creative fiction that ventures away from the inspiration of his own life experiences. In The Devil’s Whisper, he dives into a darker set of dual protagonists whose sole objective is to survive the circumstances of the world they live in. T.H. Moore is the proud father of one son, Jason, and currently resides in Virginia, where he is working on the next two installments of The Devil’s Whisper trilogy.
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Saturday, April 29, 2017

COVER REVEAL - Keeping Claudia (Toby & Claudia, #2) by Suzanne McKenna Link

Keeping Claudia
Toby & Claudia #2
by Suzanne McKenna Link
Publication date: June 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Back home in a town she once fled, headstrong Claudia Chiametti returns to the arms of the only guy ever to awaken her heart. Everything about Toby Faye contradicts her family’s traditions and values, but she’s ready to take a chance on love.

Toby finally has the girl he’s long dreamed of within his reach. But, it’s only a matter of time before light will be cast on the dark corners of a secreted past.

Can Claudia love him unconditionally …or will the truth cost Toby what he wants most?

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard.
You can also download free copy of book 1 in the series here (feel free to share this on your post):

Author Info
Suzanne McKenna Link works for a family of newspapers that cover events in and around the South Shore of Long Island, New York. She lives in the town of Sayville with her husband and two children.

SAVING TOBY is her debut novel. The literary love story follows the moving journey of a damaged young man and his love for a girl who might just save him. An avid interest in psychology has Suzanne digging deep into the reasons for her characters' behaviors. The native Long Islander is fascinated by the how and why of people's actions. As a result, her characters come to life on the pages.
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COVER REVEAL - Red Days by M.L. Sparrow

Red Days

Release Date: July 23rd 2017
2017: 235 taken into captivity, 570 slaughtered.

Keiko never set out to be an activist, but when she’s sent on an assignment to Taiji, Japan, the ball is set in motion. Reporting on the brutal yearly slaughter of hundreds of dolphins, the sight changes the course of her life, because even when she returns home to England she can’t get it out of her head.  
Over the course of ten years Keiko grows and falls in love, all the while following the highs and lows of the campaign to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. Through her articles, she examines the reasons behind it and the moral soundness of the supposed tradition in the hopes of bringing it to an end.
Someone had already switched the radio on and she listened to the soft strains of a new song by some up and coming artist as she popped the lid off her cup and leant back in her chair to sip her heavily sweetened coffee, licking foam from her lips.
Susie, the woman in the cubicle next to hers, arrived and called hello over the partition. Keiko listened to the sound of her laptop booting up and then the fast-paced click of fingers typing. Deciding she should do the same, she pulled her laptop out of her bag and rolled her chair closer to the desk. A minute later she was staring at a blank white page wondering what to write.
Thinking back to the documentary, the feelings she’d felt the night before returned. At once she felt as if she could write an entire novel and yet she could write nothing at all. The words were muddled in her brain but refused to flow down to her fingertips. She didn’t know where to start; the documentary had equipped her with an abundance of self-righteous feelings and yet she knew she didn’t know enough to begin the article yet.
As more people arrived, she threw herself into research. Just like the night before most of what popped up at first glance was related to the documentary, however she kept digging and was eventually able to uncover more in-depth information, such as official scientific papers on the lethal levels of mercury in dolphin meat, statistics showing the number of dolphins and other cetaceans killed in Taiji, and several articles predating 2009, as well as a protest in 2007 where celebrity surfers got into the water with a pod of captured piolet whales.
Although the surfers did nothing except form a peaceful, traditional surfers’ memorial circle, the fisherman converged on them immediately, shouting and using wooden poles to prod and harass them.
The morning sped by and she worked through lunch, only looking up when Celine appeared. Sheathed in a tight white dress, she stood in the doorway with a pout.
“Kiki, where were you? We were supposed to go to lunch, remember?”
Swivelling her chair around, she blinked up at her friend. After staring at words on a screen for so long her eyes felt tired and itchy, making her squint.  
“I had to go with Georgie from accounting, do you know how boring she is?” Celine didn’t bother to lower her voice and Keiko winced, knowing how gossip spread in this firm.
“I’m sorry, I lost track of time.” Reflexively she glanced down at the notepad she’d filled with looping handwriting, the most important parts decorated with bright yellow highlighter.
Celine glanced down at the notepad too and then at the screen, curling her lips at the distasteful image of a bloody cove with dolphins being pulled out of the water and into fishing boats with curved hooks.
“Ew, that’s horrible.”
“I know right…” she opened her mouth to explain, but was interrupted.
“Turn that off. I don’t know why they even post pictures like that, no one wants to see them.”
“It’s an expose, Celine, the pictures are supposed to be horrific. It’s supposed to make people think and question what’s going on.”
Flicking her hair, Celine sniffed, unconvinced. “Whatever. Don’t forget lunch tomorrow.”
As she walked away, Keiko sighed and rolled her stiff neck. She made herself stare at the image on the screen, bloody and brutal as it was, until her vision began to blur and she had to blink.
Deciding coffee was needed, she stood on legs which were weak after sitting for so long. Up on her tiptoes, she peeked over the partition and asked Susie if she wanted one before heading over to the coffeemaker. A few minutes later, a steaming cup in each hand, she returned to find an email had popped up on her screen. Passing Susie’s coffee over the wall, she sat down and inhaled the bitter scent of burnt coffee, drowning out the noise of the office as she took a moment to relax, looking at the work she’d completed this morning with satisfaction.
After a few revitalizing sips, she checked to see who the email was from. It was Mr. Jacobs, asking to see her in his office in an hour. He probably wanted to check on her progress. She glanced at her work again and wondered if he would think it was enough.      
Exactly an hour later, Keiko knocked on her boss’ door and was admitted into the spacious office where Mr. Jacobs sat at his big wooden desk with his back to a window with a view over the city. Fellow high-rises pierced the cloudy grey sky and if you peered into the distance you could make out a slice of the London Eye between two buildings.   
Mr. Jacobs was on the phone, but he waved her inside and, covering the speaker for a moment, said, “Sit, sit. I’ll only be a minute.”
Doing as instructed, she crossed her ankles and adjusted her skirt.
Almost ten minutes later, he hung up and turned to her. “Sorry that took so long. Business calls always overrun.” He said the last as if she hadn’t just listened to him talking about golf and arranging to meet for drinks.
Clapping his hands together, he exclaimed, “So what did you think of The Cove?”
She’d been anticipating this question, yet still didn’t have a satisfactory answer. Strange for a journalist, but she often had trouble putting her thoughts into words.
“I thought it was… barbaric and I was amazed that most Japanese people don’t know about it, supposedly anyway. I don’t understand why this is only just coming to light if it has been going on for years. I was also shocked that they continue selling dolphin meat, even though it is proven to have toxic levels of mercury. How can they be so blinkered as to ignore scientific evidence? What will it take to make them see?”
His lips twitched into a smile, “Perhaps a well written article?”
She smiled back, though she thought it was doubtful. “When is the deadline?”
“We’ll sort that out upon your return,” he answered airily, standing up and walking over to his bookshelf, crammed with old books she doubted he’d actually read. 
Suddenly his words penetrated. “Return? Where am I going?”
“Why, to Japan of course! I mentioned it yesterday.”
“No, Mr. Jacobs, you didn’t.” 
He waved away her words with an impatient hand, “Oh, well, I’m telling you now. There’s a ticket here with your name on it – first class, no less, you lucky girl!”
Keiko eyed the ticket he picked up off the bookshelf with interest. Of course, she’d been to Japan before, in fact her grandparents lived in Wakayama Prefecture not far from Taiji, therefore, it wasn’t the thought of visiting Japan that excited her, rather the thought of a travelling assignment; her work rarely took her out of the office and never further than the outskirts of London. The more stimulating assignments were usually given to employees with more experience. Which made her wonder…
“Why are you sending me? I’m honoured, but this is a big story, wouldn’t you rather send Joel or Danielle; they usually do the big stories?”
“No, no, you’re the perfect person for the job, you’re Japanese so you’ll fit right in. Besides, this could be your big break.”
The closest Keiko had ever come to being discriminated against was in Primary School when a bunch of girls had run around calling her ‘chinky’ and pulling faces, but now she felt her stomach sink. She hadn’t been given this job because of her own merit, but rather because her parents were Japanese and she looked the part.
However, she pushed down the anger bubbling up, forcing herself to look at it from another angle. She had been given an opportunity, no matter the reason, and she would prove that she was worthy.
“Okay,” she nodded solemnly. “When do I leave?”
Frowning, clearly clueless, he lifted a pair of glasses from his desk and perched them on his nose, peering at the ticket in his hand. “It looks like the plane leaves at… 13:45 tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow!” the word came out as a loud squawk.
“It says so right here,” he said helpfully, handing over the boarding pass and tapped a finger upon the date.
She stared at him in exasperation. “But I can’t go tomorrow.”
“Oh, why not? Do you have plans over the weekend?” he seemed genuinely interested.
“Well, no, but it’s very short notice and… I’d need to pack and…” Trailing off, she bit her lip, unsure why she was arguing. “It’s short notice, but I can do it.”
A smile split his chubby face. “Excellent. Take the rest of the day off and go home and pack. I’ll have my secretary email you all the details.”
Standing, she nodded and went to leave, but his voice stopped her at the door. “I look forward to seeing what you come up with.”
“Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Jacobs.”

Author Info
M L Sparrow is currently the author of four full length novels, a novella and a slew of short stories published in various anthologies. She will write pretty much anything that pops into her head, no matter the genre, and enjoys keeping her readers guessing as to what she will write next, though you can pretty much guarantee that there will be some degree of romance! 

As well as writing, she enjoys travelling and has been to some amazing countries, where she never fails to gather inspiration and has an endless supply of ideas for future novels…
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Audio Virtual Tour - Alpha Squad: Boot Camp (Alpha Squad, #1) by Lorelei Moone

Alpha Squad: Boot Camp
Alpha Squad, #1
by Lorelei Moone
Narrated by: Audrey Lusk 
Publication Date: March 21st 2017 
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Shifters

The Book Junkie Reads . . . Review of . . . ALPHA SQUAD: BOOT CAMP (Alpha Squad, #1) . . .  The secret has hit the world in a wave of panic and fear. The response form a task force aimed at controlling the fear and panic of humans, keeping the peace, and punishing those that can’t or won’t quite follow the rules. I loved getting a glimpse at some of the previous series couples/characters. I love that things continued to the next step with more love and more mating and more adventure.

Eric and Adam find that they are heading for a new world of adventure and love. Eric just never expected that he would be working so close to the one that would be his for life. Janine has been chosen to help with the leading of the Alpha Squad. She just never expected to find that she would have so much to gain or lose all in one assignment. This was wonderful shifter romance with action and revelations. Janine and Eric both learn somethings they did not in the beginning. If quick reads are what your looking for then stop right her and pick up Alpha Squad: Book Camp.  Up next we will she what Adam gets himself into.

The Narrator of . . . Review of . . . ALPHA SQUAD: BOOT CAMP (Alpha Squad, #1) . . .  Audrey Lusk had the perfect natural narration accent that transported you to the English countryside. She handled the various characters with clarity. It was easy to discern which character was speaking. I could determine male and female. The cadence was nice and time clean. I found a small issue with the editing of the audio. There was a hiccup in the reading, with repeated lines, late in chapter 2. Once past that issue things ran smoothly. 

It has only been a few months since humanity has found out about the shifters that live in their midst. When the New Alliance leadership asks Eric King to join Alpha Squad, a joint taskforce supposed to promote cooperation between the shifters and human authorities, his loyalty to the cause doesn’t give him any choice but to agree. But is the squad actually supposed to be relevant, or is it just an eyewash, set up by the new Secretary for Shifter Affairs to make himself look good? And how is he going to concentrate on his training, when his inner bear is insisting that the squad leader is his true mate? 

Major Janine Williams is not at all pleased when she is ordered to set up Alpha Squad. The initiative is just a gimmick, meant to pacify the shifter community, plus none of her male colleagues had wanted the job. But when she starts getting to know her team, especially tough East London bear shifter, Eric, she starts to wonder if perhaps it will be possible to make this task force a success, so long as everyone works together. And so long as she can manage to keep her relationship with Eric strictly professional.. 
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"Come in," Janine answered the knock on her door.
Individual assessments were an essential part of training, but she was dreading one in particular this time. Eric King.
Of course it was him who had decided to come in first. She held her breath as she observed him enter her office. His movements were much more stealthy and refined than she would expect from someone of his stature. Was it deliberate?
Either way, hopefully, she could get this conversation out of the way quickly, so that she could move on to the easier subjects.
"Take a seat," she offered.
Cadet King—she'd tried to force herself to think of him in those terms, even if it seemed wholly inappropriate—sat down. He made the substantial wood and leather chair in front of her desk look small underneath him.
Her heartbeat sped up against her will.
His eyes were fixed on her face as he folded his hands and waited for further instructions. Despite Callahan's observations as well as her own concerns, he had been quite comfortable taking orders all morning. Was it just an act?
"I have a few questions for you, and it's best if you are completely honest." Janine shuffled a few of the papers on her desk, pretending to look for the checklist she had prepared earlier. In reality, she was just trying to avoid eye contact.
"Of course, Ma'am."
His voice still affected her, perhaps even more so than the first time they'd spoken. He was so near and yet so unattainable. She could not wait for this torture to be over.
She glanced up into his eyes and immediately focused on the questionnaire again.
"Why are you here?" she started, folding her hands to resist the urge to fidget with the paperwork again.
"You called all of us in," Cadet King—Eric—answered.
Janine shook her head. Don't make this any more difficult than it has to be! "I mean generally. Why join Alpha Squad?"
He paused, stealing a glance downward, presumably at her lips. Her heart skipped a few beats, but she did her best to maintain the same steely expression.
You're mine, a voice said in her head. Was it a voice, though? It sounded more like a low growl. Janine readjusted one hand on top of the other and continued to stare straight at the bear of a man in front of her. Now she was truly losing it.
"As you will have read in my file, I've been involved in the New Alliance. I just want to make a difference, Ma'am."
And what a difference you've made already, Janine thought.
I'm here to claim you, the same voice in her head seemed to say. The hairs on her arms stood upright, tempting her to scratch herself, but she managed to resist the urge. Janine's eye twitched involuntarily. What was that voice?
"In your own words: what is the purpose of Alpha Squad? The mission statement, if you will…"
Eric continued to look at her directly, his expression as calm as could be. 
"To aid the traditional law enforcement agencies in any shifter related matters."
Janine nodded and made a quick note in his file. "Let's drill down, shall we? In concrete terms, what are we here for?"
"For example, shifter on shifter or shifter on human crime. We could more effectively investigate the shifters in question. We would be a bridge between the shifter community and the human government."
Janine scribbled his response onto a further sheet of paper, rushing so much the end result was hardly legible. Still, if her previous interactions with this man were any indication, she wouldn't need the notes to recall his answers word for word. This conversation would get re-played and analyzed over and over during those moments when she lay in bed at night with sleep still eluding her.
Whether she liked it or not.
"Very good. So would you say you are here because you believe Alpha Squad will continue to let you make a difference?" As soon as Janine finished her question, she listened for his response, as well as any more comments from that weird imaginary voice she'd heard before.
"Yes. Absolutely." That was it. The other voice remained silent.
Janine glanced up at him briefly again. He sounded firm and determined, but there was something in his eyes that suggested that he was either hiding something or not completely convinced of his own answer.
Fair enough, neither was she. He talked the talk, though, and that was all that mattered for now.
She asked him a few more routine questions about his background, how he grew up, his skill set, and what he thought his strengths and weaknesses were, and that concluded the assessment. The mysterious voice seemed to have gone away by itself.
Her phone rang with impeccable timing.
"That's all, then. Excuse me," she said, gesturing at the phone.
Eric, no, Cadet King, nodded and started to get up while she lifted the receiver to her ear.
"Ma'am, the Secretary of Shifter Affairs is on the line for you. He wants an update on the Squad," Callahan explained.
"No problem. Put him through."
Janine watched as Eric left. That had gone pretty well, hadn't it? She hoped she'd been able to disguise her discomfort well throughout his assessment.
Meanwhile, a voice she'd previously only heard in the media answered the other line. "Major Williams? This is Oliver Teese. You are the officer in charge of Alpha Squad, am I correct?"
"Secretary Teese, this is unexpected! Yes, Sir, I am. Training has only just begun, though…”
"No matter, I was hoping to receive regular updates from you throughout training anyway. This initiative is important to me, so I expect to be kept in the loop."
Bloody brilliant. If Oliver Teese had his way, she would end up reporting on Alpha Squad's failures to General Stone while telling Teese stories about how she was doing the best she could. What could possibly go wrong?
"Anything I can do to help, Sir."
"Wonderful. Why don't you tell me about your initial impressions of the recruits," Oliver Teese said.
Janine rested her head in her hand. This was not how she liked to conduct her training. At least military men like Stone had a solid understanding of the unwritten rules and boundaries.
"As I said, it's still early days. We have a lot of work to do just for assessment purposes. I would be more able to report on the trainees' performance at the end of the first phase of boot camp," she explained.
Oliver Teese sighed at the other end. He was obviously not pleased with her answer.
"I don't need to remind you that you report to me now, do I? Alpha Squad was my project, and I intend to know what is going on with it."
Janine rolled her eyes. His project. "I understand, Sir. It's just that I have not even had the chance to individually assess each of the cadets yet. Reporting on their performance would be really premature."
"Fine. But I do hope I can count on you to check in as soon as you have something to of note to tell me, yes?" Teese insisted.
Janine ran her hand over her smoothly tied back hair. "Of course, Sir."
"All right then. I'll be waiting for your call." With that, Teese cut the connection.
At that very second, there was another knock on the door.
"Blackwood here. May I come in?" a voice asked.
"Just a moment," Janine responded, as she dialed Callahan's extension.
"Yes, Major?" the private answered.
"Could you get me a glass of water, please?" Janine put the phone down again and located Blackwood's grade sheet on her desk.
Between resisting her attraction to Eric and warding off intrusive questions from politicians, Alpha Squad was turning into an even bigger headache than foreseen. Not to mention that weird voice she'd heard.
And this was only day one.

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Author Info
Lorelei Moone is an up-and-coming author of paranormal romance based in London. A lover of all things sweet, and caffeinated, when she’s not writing about sexy bear shifters and their strong-willed curvaceous love interests, Lorelei can be found baking cookies or cakes for her family.
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