Monthly Archives: November 2015

5 and 4 Stars for Safety In Numbers (Sizzling Miami #5) by Jessie G. (AUTHOR INTERVIEW) #MM #Romance @JessieGBooks

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Title: Safety In Numbers (Sizzling Miami #5)
Author Name: Jessie G.
Publication Date & Length: October 31, 2015 – 76,000 Words

Synopsis

“Bros stick together no matter what.”

When Chris and Liam made that promise, they had no idea how important it would become or how it would be tested in the most brutal way. Nine years later, their bond cemented in blood, that relationship is all they have to hold on to.

“No matter what happens, this friendship will be the one constant we can count on.”

When Billy and Owen made that promise, they knew exactly how dangerous the world could be. They survived prison by protecting each other and they survived freedom by holding that promise sacred. Now they want more than just to survive and they want it from the brothers whose bond is as strong as their own.

“We are stronger together than we’ll ever be apart.”

When Owen reaches his breaking point, Chris jumps at the chance to make things right for all of them. With the future in their grasp, will they realize their strength is in their numbers and finally become the family they crave?

Author’s Note: This is NOT a foursome, but the story of two couples that needed to be told together.

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Review

FiveStars

I thought this book was a awesome addition to this series!
Now I will admit I was confused a little bit but that was because I am not really used to reading about two different couples. But it all came together so good! I thought the author wrote Chris and Owens, Liam and Billy’s stories so perfect for them. Since finishing book 3 in this series I have been so excited to read this book because the relationship between these four men seemed so odd to me and now I get it. You can really feel how close this four men are to each other, what a tight bond they have to each other. No this is not a four way relationship. This is definitely two couples finally admitting their feelings to the one they love.
So besides getting to see these two couples grow together you also see some of the characters from the previous books in this series which I loved. But I will say Chris has been my favorite so far, there is just something about a man who is quiet yet so strong and so protective over those he loves. Also when you find out what he did for Liam that just made me love his character more you could defiantly see how much this two brothers cared about each other.
Owen is very shy in this book was Billy was strong but unsure of himself when it came to Liam. I thought when Billy has his talk to Chris about Liam it was so sweet!
So I really don’t want to spoil anymore of this book for anyone, hopeful I did not say to much because this is one you definitely need to read for yourself.

So all together I really loved this book!

I would definitely recommend this series!

Kara

FourStars

This was a sweet story between the four men who all relied upon each other in one way or another.
While it was nice to see how they all learned to work through their stubborn attitudes and past issues, I also felt like it was missing something. Maybe because the first couple books in this series had some drama and I felt like this one was simply missing that.
This book was more about finding a way to work on a relationship that was already there… or how to turn a friendship into something more.
Overall, not a bad read but I like a little more meat to my stories.
Renee

Excerpt

That silence hid a lot from their friends, but Liam knew Chris was plagued with memories far worse than his. That’s why they decided not to celebrate alone this year. Billy and Owen were expected any minute and it was the first time they invited anyone to join them. The anniversary was bittersweet for them and they chose to celebrate it because becoming brothers meant that much to them. “Do you think they’ll find it stupid?”

Chris just shrugged as if it was no skin off his back what they thought and Liam knew that was just bravado. Fact was, they both very much cared what the two men thought. “Liar.”

His brother sighed and dropped his head back. As if shit wasn’t fucked up enough, they fell for two bastards just as fucked up as they were. “I know you’re worried about Owen. The business with Colin is growing out of their control and I’m not sure why he thinks it’s a good thing. Is he trying to prove something? And the middle of the night phone calls from the FTR? He’s looking more and more fragile every day.”

Liam knew he wasn’t stating anything new. What he didn’t know was what Chris intended to do about it. Lately, when it came to Owen, Chris conveyed zero intent and seemed to be waiting for Owen to read him as effortlessly as Liam did. Their brother bond had been forged through blood and he was afraid Chris’s expectations of Owen were unreasonable. “Do you see his face every time he thinks he’s failed to understand you? The weight of it is crushing.”

Instead of regret, all Liam saw was anger in Chris. It wasn’t a common emotion for Chris and Liam could name every time he saw it. The fact that Chris knew what he was capable of if provoked had made him extremely conscious of that emotion and he often went to great lengths to contain it.

Owen was the very definition of insecure. Just the type to inspire Chris’s protective instincts, which Liam knew for a fact Owen did. Hell, he inspired Liam’s protective instincts. Owen was stubborn though and he often distanced himself, keeping things bottled up until they manifested elsewhere. Like in panic attacks that felt like heart attacks, which he also tried to hide. Liam nearly lost it when they found out that Billy was keeping Owen’s secret.

Chris nodded slowly, as if he completely followed Liam’s train of thought and waited for him to connect the dots.

And just like that, Liam understood. “You’re pissed because he doesn’t come to you when the panic sets in. That he hides it from you and they hide it from us.”

It made total sense, but he had to wonder if they were expecting too much. After all, they couldn’t call what was going on with either man a relationship. No, they were four fucked up bastards trying to come together in some romantic—what? Not a foursome, eww…he loved Chris, but yeah, that just wasn’t happening. And Owen wasn’t his type any more than Billy was Chris’s type. But—always with the fucking buts, right?—what was happening was very definitely happening to the four of them, and Liam now had to wonder if that was the problem, because trying to come together was definitely not the same as being together.

Chris shook his head and shifted in his seat. No, he was right. It wasn’t just their brother bond that made it impossible to move forward as two separate couples. Billy and Owen had formed their own unique friendship in prison and were no more likely to move forward without the other one either. “Just once, couldn’t we have done something the easy way?”

The fire door banged open and Liam turned to see Billy and Owen, arms full of brightly wrapped packages, struggling to pull a huge cluster of balloons through the door. It was a shocking contrast to their dark thoughts and so uncharacteristically sweet of both men. Billy caught their surprised stare and yelled, “Is this where the party’s at?”

“It is now.” It might seem silly, but it was exactly what they needed and exactly who they needed it from. Maybe they hadn’t been expecting too much at all. Liam rose to give them a hand and glanced down to see the look of longing in Chris’s eyes and thought maybe it was time they all expected more.

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5 Stars for Wait For Me (For Me #1) by T.S. McKinney and B.J. Grinder #MM #BDSM

1.5

Title: Wait For Me (For Me #1)
Author Name & Publisher: T.S. McKinney & B.J. Grinder (Dark Hollows Press)
Publication Date & Length: November 5, 2014 – 404 pgs

Synopsis

Susannah is a dominatrix and FBI agent. Jasper is a younger submissive who wants to surrender to her every desire. The dominant side of her wants him badly, but the age gap holds her back. Susannah’s first assignment introduces her to the sickening world of human trafficking. Jasper, a genius with computers, jumps at the chance to do anything that will allow him to spend time with Susannah.

When Susannah is betrayed; Jasper is abducted. Will Susannah rescue Jasper before too much damage is done to his body…and soul? Will she get the chance to prove her love?

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Review

FiveStars

My reason for wanting to read this book was that I had read book #2 Justice for Me, not knowing that it was actually the second book in a series. I loved that book and had to read the first one. Holy crap! This book was amazing! If you don’t like dark this book isn’t for you, it deals with sex slaves, rape, torture and a few other dark items. You can’t help but fall in love with Jasper and feel his every emotion that he goes through in this book. I can’t tell you how many times I cried while reading this book, not because I was sad but because I felt his emotions so strongly it felt as if I was going through everything with him. I wasn’t really a big fan of Susannah, she just rubbed me the wrong way for some reason, a reason I can’t really explain but I felt it all the same. It was a long book but well worth the read, highly recommend.

Angie

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5 Stars for Forging the Future (Change of Heart #5) by Mary Calmes #MM #Shapeshifter

1.5

Title: Forging the Future (Change of Heart #5)
Author Name & Publisher: Mary Calmes (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: June 29, 2015 – 174 pgs

Synopsis

Jin Church is back where he started, alone, wandering, and uncertain of his path. It’s not by choice but by circumstance, as he remembers he’s a werepanther… but not much else. He knows one thing for sure—he needs to find the beautiful blond man who haunts his dreams.

Logan Church is trapped in a living hell. His mate is missing, his tribe is falling apart, and he’s estranged from the son he loves with all his heart. His world is unraveling without his mate by his side, and he has no one to blame but himself.

If Jin can regain his memory and Logan can overcome the threats to his leadership, then perhaps they can resume their lives. The question is: Is that what they want? Back to the same house, the same tribe, the same troubles? They can choose from various roads leading to their future… or they can forge their own path.

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Review

FiveStars

This book was a awesome addition to this series!
So we get Jin and Logan again with this book but this time Jin has lost his memory after something bad happens with his son.
When Logan goes to get Jin is when Logan’s family decides to over throw him and put his youngest brother in charge. Well let me tell you that was only a little bit of what happens in this book. There was just so much going on in this book and I do not want to give away any spoilers.
You get more of the love between these two men and the love they have for their son while they are dealing with everything that is going on around them.
I have to say I am not a huge fan of Logan’s brothers at all anymore after this book. The things they do to Logan and Jin ugh!! It was just so wrong and you should never treat your family that way at all!
So with this book you get angst and action along with so much steam which I really loved how everything came together in this book! The way the author has created this shifter world and these characters was honestly just amazing! I was on the edge of my seat through this whole book just hoping for the beat for Jin and Logan and their son.

All together I really loved this book and this series!
I would definitely recommend this series!

Kara

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4.5 Stars for Fallen From Grace (Spirit of Grace #2) by Adrian J. Smith (AUTHOR INTERVIEW) #FF #Police @adrianajsmith @supposedcrimes

1Title: Fallen From Grace (Spirit of Grace #2)
Author Name: Adrian J. Smith
Publication Date & Length: June 1, 2015 – 260pgs

Synopsis

Parables and riddles can’t undo the confusion Deputy Grace Halling experiences after her close call with death. Each morning she wakes up, puts on a uniform that feels far more like a target, and goes out to enforce the laws and protect the innocent. While her comrades in blue are murdered one by one with each passing month, Grace pushes for a call to action from her Captain. Her worst fear has become a reality.

Grace doesn’t know if she’s next.

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Review
FourandHalfStars

This second book in the ‘Grace’ series continues a few months after Grace is seriously injured in a car accident that was no accident.  Someone is out to kill cops, but no-one will believe Grace when she tries to tell them there is a connection between the recent killings of her colleagues.  Grace becomes even more angry and ill-tempered than before and Amya, her girlfriend, a Police Chaplain, is getting sick of it.
This book deals with the breakdown of Grace and Amya’s relationship as Grace’s behaviour becomes more erratic.  I can certainly understand why Grace becomes so affected – her job seems to be one trauma after another.  She has so much to deal with and much worse and more personal than she could ever imagine.  Amya would have to be a saint to put up with it all though.  She may be a Chaplain but she is only human.
We find out more about Grace’s suspicions over the cop killings and how they may be linked.  I enjoyed the story and the direction it is going in.  There is much more to come and I want to find out so much more!  Grace and Amya’s relationship continues to change and develop and that too has kept me hooked.  I can’t wait to read the next instalment,  ‘Grace through Redemption’,  to find out where this is all leading.
Kitty Kat

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5 Stars for Ghosts of Halloween Past (The Shifters) by M.D. Grimm #MM #Romance

1.5

Title: Ghosts of Halloween Past (The Shifters)
Author Name & Publisher: M.D. Grimm (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: October 28, 2015 – 88 pgs

Synopsis

Sequel to Blind Devotion

Wolf shifter Sheriff Jack Ulger and cougar shifter Travis Kuger protect the shifters and their human allies living in Haven, Montana. They have known each other for nearly a decade but weren’t always friends. One Halloween night, as teenagers, that changed when Travis saved them both from an abandoned mill and the ghosts haunting it.

Years later, it’s Halloween again, and Travis never shared the ghostly experience with anyone, least of all the skeptic Jack. But he soon regrets the omission when Jack becomes trapped in the same abandoned mill while trying to find two lost kids. Jack must now protect the children, fight off a spiritual attack, and find a way to freedom. Travis knows something is wrong and enlists the help of their friends, and he can only hope they’ll be in time to save Jack from the dark entities.

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Review

FiveStars

This story features my favorite couple of this whole series so far Jack a wolf shifter and Tom a cougar shifter. This was equal parts spooky and sweet because of the love these two have for each other.
Seven years ago when Tom and Jack were first getting to know one another as friends Tom took a dare to go into a haunted mill. Well Jack did not want him to go alone so he went with him. The things that happened that night scarred Tom and Jack had forgotten everything. Well Jack is extremely skeptical and does not believe anything about ghosts. That is until he must go into the Mill again to save two children who were in there. Which also brings Tom when he senses Jack in danger and makes them both confront what happened before and what was really in the Mill.
I loved what the author did with this story and how it was so spooky but had you on the edge of your seat wondering what was going to happen with these ghosts and two MC’s next.
All together I really loved this Novella!
I would definitely recommend this book!

Kara

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4 Stars for Mail Order Husbands (Fated Date Agency #3) by Abraham Steele #MM #Paranormal

1.5

Title: Mail Order Husbands (Fated Date Agency #3)
Author Name: Abraham Steele
Publication Date & Length: July 23, 2015 – 212 pgs

Synopsis

Edmund Knox is an upstanding citizen, a devoted father, and the alpha of a large urban shifter pack. He came out of the closet when he got divorced, but his numerous responsibilities haven’t allowed him to date in recent years. No, he isn’t lonely – or at least, he’d never admit to that kind of weakness.

When Edmund gets a little too controlling about his daughter’s love life, the rebellious teen realizes he might be less uptight if he had a love life of his own. Taking matters into her own hands, she writes to the Fated Date Agency pretending to be Edmund.

Normally, the agency lets shifters contact their matches over email. But Edmund Knox isn’t a normal shifter. For an alpha of his stature, the agency is going to take a more hands-on approach. By the time Edmund finds out what his daughter did, it’s too late to stop the agency from delivering his mate to his door.

The agency had to pull a few strings to get the troubled young omega out of prison and into Edmund’s arms, so they’re not going to let this relationship fail. Not even when Edmund finds out exactly what crime Lieber committed.

Will the strict older alpha be able to forgive the sins of the past? And will the hardened criminal who’s his mate even want to change his ways?

Mail Order Husbands is Book 3 of the Fated Date Agency series. It also stands alone as a complete 200-page gay shifter romance novel.

Guaranteed HEA ending and no cliffhangers!

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Review

FourStars

This book was another really good addition to this series!
So in this book you get Edmund who is a very important alpha and has a daughter who decides to get her dad of her back by signing him up for Fated Date Agency without him knowing about it. Well Edmund’s mate is in prison so he must be released and he is brought to Edmund who knows instantly the Lieber is his mate his omega.
You get misunderstandings and angst with this story but you also get steam too! While I really liked how this author wrote these two MC’s story I honestly was not a huge fan of how Edmund treated Lieber at the end of this book and I felt like he did not do enough groveling after the things he said to Lieber. But other then that I did really like this story and these characters even though I am still on the fence on how I feel about Edmund’s character.

All together I really liked this book!
I would recommend this book!

Kara

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5, 4.5, and 3 Star Reviews for Nightshade by Brooke Radley #FF #Magic @brooke_radley

nightshadenew

Title: Nightshade
Author Name & Publisher: Brooke Radley (Nine Star Publishing)
Publication Date: November 23, 2015

Synopsis

Eleanor Reed spent most of her life at the Darten Academy, trading her childhood for an education in magic. When the King’s Council comes to her with a mission, she jumps at the opportunity for adventure. The assignment is deceptively simple: infiltrate the Nightshade Brotherhood, the city’s infamous thieves’ guild, and confirm their responsibility for the recent emergence of a hallucinogenic drug.

Unfortunately for her, the Brotherhood hates mages. If they catch Eleanor, they’ll slit her throat and toss her in the ocean.

Hiding her identity proves to be an impossible task. Cassandra, a thief as beautiful as she is dangerous, sees Eleanor cast a spell during her trial for the Brotherhood. Rather than kill her, Cassandra offers her a position in the guild. Cassandra holds the key to success for Eleanor—but is she after something more?

Under Cassandra’s tutelage, Eleanor discovers that the Brotherhood isn’t quite what it seems to be, and the ever-growing drug problem is more complicated than originally anticipated. Whoever is at fault will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Things go from bad to worse when Eleanor realizes her growing passion for Cassandra. Will Eleanor be able to decide where her loyalties lie before it’s too late?

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Review

FiveStars

A really eloquently written novel. Very atmospheric, with believable characters, intriguing plot and beautiful descriptions of settings and characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I found it hard to put down, it completely engrossed me with its intricacies and well weaved story line. The fact that magic was interwoven in this adventure was done in such a way that it seemed perfectly natural, saying much for the skill of the author.
What helped make this novel so unique was the way the plot and the counterplot ran along side a passionate love affair. The climax was succinct but a perfect ending to a powerful and amazing book.
I have no hesitation in recommending this thoroughly compelling and captivating novel, one that can be enjoyed by anyone looking for an enthralling and bewitching story line, not forgetting a wonderful growing and electrifying  romance.
Chris

FourandHalfStars

This book is a bit of a slow burner but so worth reading.  The main character, Eleanor, is feisty, clever, caring and surprises herself and everyone else. She is sent to try and discover if The Brotherhood is selling Tangleweed, a highly dangerous and addictive drug.  She is only meant to be a small cog in the plan but becomes so much more.  The story has depth and things are definitely not as they seem.
The relationship between Eleanor and the mysterious stranger, Cassandra, grows slowly but it is tender and caring.  I didn’t want anything to come between them and the tension is immense at times.
Its a beautiful telling of a love story, as well as a great mystery.  The world conjured up in the story is fascinating and I can see it becoming a series of books.
The love scenes are tender and not at all gratuitous. Don’t expect hot and  steamy here – the reader is not privy to the finer details!
The book really gathers pace nearer the end and I was totally hooked.  I wanted to find out more, how it ended, but I also didn’t want it to end.
I loved this story and want more in the same vein.  I hope Brooke Radley plans to write more about Eleanor and her magical world.
Kitty Kat
ThreeStar

This is a story full of moral ambiguity for me. Some of the issues the main characters are dealing with made it difficult for me to finish the story, not because I had a problem reading about them, but because they turn the book into the type of morass that I simply don’t have the patience to work my way through. I very much dislike lying, and I think writers use it a lot as a plot point or plot device, in order to create conflict within the story. Which is very much what was done in this instance. Our Main Character, Eleanor, is working undercover, i.e. lying about who she is, in order to get close to the Thieves Guild, the Brotherhood, of her capital city. She comes to the attention of a high ranking member of the Guild, Cassandra. From the first, we the readers get the idea that Cassandra isn’t just another ordinary thief, and her interest in Eleanor is unusual. Later in the novel, we discover exactly how extraordinary Cassandra truly is.

There are a couple of things that bother me about the story, which I simply hope will give the author some ideas to better the plot in the next book. First, for someone so high up in the Brotherhood, Cassandra displays a decided lack of suspicion about the “new” girl, Eleanor. She catches Eleanor using magic, and in several instances, Eleanor uses more magic than her claim of being a hedge witch would allow for, yet Cassandra never doubts Eleanor. I suppose I could see Cassandra’s attraction and desire for Eleanor blinding her to obvious clues, but the raid by soldiers in the slums shortly after Eleanor goes there the first time would be an obvious wake up call to me.

Second, I understand how a leader might be betrayed by their underlings, and even how they might not be aware of it, but when said leader finds out and is upset about it, I find it hard to believe those underlings would follow any orders given by the leader they’ve betrayed. Also, I find it difficult to believe that said leader never had an inkling of suspicion about the origin of the drugs in a city that her people controlled. Not quite believable. And third, I find it extremely hard to believe that someone who is the leader of a group of people who lie, cheat, steal, and kill for money, would give up her life for someone who has betrayed her so basically. What her brother did, without her knowledge and consent, should have shaken the foundations of their relationship. Yet without hesitation, Cassandra gives up her life for someone who has just shown her what a terrible person he is, and what he’s willing to do to others just to make more money.

Eleanor is the one stuck in the moral morass her life has become in a few short weeks. She’s lied to someone she’s coming to care a great deal for, yet gets extremely upset to find out Cassandra hasn’t exactly told her the truth of who she is. Hypocritical much? She’s also betrayed the person she loves, turning in first a place that’s trying to help people addicted to this drug, then betraying who Cassandra really is, and finally betraying the location of both the drugs and prince, and the people responsible for it all. And she betrays all of this for a ruling government that has shown no care or compassion for the people it rules. The atrocities committed by the people in charge make Eleanor wonder about her own loyalties to those people. I like that she has the courage in the end to try to make things right with the one person who matters most to her. But I also don’t understand why it took her so long to get to that point. And I don’t understand Cassandra’s willingness to trust Eleanor again, except as someone who has no other option. Give me more of a solid foundation for their feelings for each other, because with that much lying and betrayal between them, I’m surprised Cassandra is willing to forgive and forget.

Amy P.

AuthorInterview

Trimming Down Unnecessary Scenes and Side Characters

During my first round of editing, I noticed one scene in particular was giving me trouble. It was one of the last few scenes of the book, and while all of the other scenes were building off one another to amp up the tension, this scene seemed to detract from that goal, and it left more questions than answers. In the scene, Eleanor nearly comes face-to-face with one of her old friends from the Academy of Magic, Quinn Alexander. Eleanor worries that Cassandra might become suspicious if Quinn recognizes her, so she makes sure to keep her face hidden and keeps Cassandra as far away from Quinn as possible. The scene ends with Eleanor using magic to keep Quinn away. Quinn recognizes the magic and looks into the shadows where Eleanor and Cassandra are hiding. Instead of charging forward, she turns away, letting Eleanor and Cassandra escape.

 

When I originally wrote the scene, I pictured expanding on Quinn’s character and including her in some of the final scenes. While she’s mentioned a few times throughout Nightshade, I found that there wasn’t enough time to write her in. The last few scenes go by quickly, and to write Quinn into them would certainly impact the decision Eleanor makes by the end of the novel.

 

I ended up deleting the scene and taking out most lines that mentioned her character. I still liked the idea of including someone from Eleanor’s past, so once I started planning the sequel to Nightshade, I knew I wanted to include Quinn’s character, either as an ally or an adversary.

Excerpt

The stranger introduced herself as Cassandra. With a sinking feeling, Eleanor knew regardless of how bad an idea it was to call attention to herself, she couldn’t help it. This woman had an inexplicable draw to her and Eleanor was caught in her trap.

She managed to introduce herself to Cassandra without further embarrassment. Just as Toby instructed, she only used her first name. She wasn’t sure if Cassandra had meant to do the same thing, but the other woman didn’t seem bothered by the impolite introduction.

While Cassandra ordered a drink from the innkeeper, Eleanor studied her profile. She had blonde hair, something unusual in the city. It was long, too—longer than Eleanor’s—and tied into a loose ponytail that fell well beyond her shoulders. As soon as the innkeeper left with Cassandra’s order, she turned back to Eleanor. “So what brings you to this part of Darten City?” she asked. The question was innocent enough, but Eleanor couldn’t help but wonder if it was a good idea to talk to Cassandra, much less anyone else at the bar. At least she would blend in better if she were engaged in conversation; she’d been quiet and alone in a dark corner for too long. Cassandra was as good a cover as any, she reasoned.

“I recently moved to the area,” Eleanor said.
Cassandra looked intrigued. “Is this your first time living in the city?”
Eleanor thought back to the cover story she and Ben had come up with. It had been a brief conversation, but at least it gave her something to go off of when he returned. “Yes,” she said. Then, hesitating, she added, “My fiancé and I came here for a better life. He found work at the shipyard.”

Cassandra’s face became unreadable. Had Eleanor done something wrong? But then Cassandra smiled. “That’s great! A lot of people come here expecting the worst—overcrowding, steep rent, not enough jobs to go around—but there are so many wonderful opportunities in the city, ones you can’t find anywhere else. You just need to know how to find them. How long have you been here?”

She and Ben hadn’t discussed their timeline, so Eleanor improvised. “Not even a week. We’re from a small village south of here and it’s rare to find someone coming all the way to Darten City who isn’t taking the main road. We got very lucky to find a trader to travel with.”

That seemed to appease Cassandra’s curiosity, and for a minute there was a lull in the conversation. Eleanor fought the urge to turn and look at the stairwell. That was, until Cassandra asked, “Is your fiancé still working? I hear the hours at the shipyard are bad for newcomers.”

“It’s our anniversary,” Eleanor said, this time remembering to use their cover story. Cassandra’s brow slanted in confusion and Eleanor realized she’d spoken aloud. “He’s upstairs,” she hastened to explain. “He wanted to do something romantic— candles, flowers, you know.” Cassandra nodded. This was the perfect opportunity to leave and check on Ben. He was probably fine, but this conversation was becoming personal fast and Eleanor wasn’t sure how many more questions she could answer by lying through her teeth. “As a matter of fact, I really should go see how he’s doing.”

Cassandra’s polite smile faltered for a split second, and Eleanor was sure she would have missed it if she had so much as blinked. The whole situation confused her, but she couldn’t dwell on it right now, not with the uncertain status of the mission looming over her. Cassandra’s voice was gentle as she said, “Of course. I wouldn’t want to keep you from enjoying your evening.”

“Thank you,” Eleanor said as she stood. She couldn’t help but glance at Cassandra one last time. Their eyes met, and Cassandra gave her a soft smile.

“It was a pleasure to meet you, Eleanor.” Cassandra tipped her mug in Eleanor’s direction. “If you ever need someone to show you around the city, I would be more than willing.”

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