Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Not Always a Bridesmaid by Sharon Kleve and Jennifer Conner (Romantic Anthology)

Not Always a Bridesmaid
by Jennifer Conner & Sharon Kleve

My rating: 5 stars

Publisher: Books to Go Now (June 5, 2018)
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Print Length: 238 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
The Professional Bridesmaid
To help three co-workers coordinate their weddings, Skye Wilson must act as a bridesmaid for them. Skye dreams of becoming a wedding planner and needs to start somewhere and reluctantly agrees. Just when the wedding arrangements and her plans started going wrong, she meets Chasen Dantrell, a handsome limousine driver. 
Chasen has a growing limo business. He loves his job but the long hours of waiting by himself wear on him. That is until a cute, blue-eyed bridesmaid named Skye stumbles his way.
As their two worlds become more and more entwined with each wedding they work, Skye wonders if she'll ever be a bride and would it be Chasen at the end of the aisle with a ring?

The Undecided Bride
When Steven, the man of Bridgette North dreams, proposes she automatically says yes until her fiancĂ©’s constant pressure for a speedy wedding has her questioning his motives and love. Now she is undecided whether she wants to marry him.
Mason is hired to trick Bridgette into marrying Steven quickly to ensure a promotion but ends up falling head-over-heels in love instead. 
Can Mason explain his deceit and still win her heart? 
And will Bridgette be willing to risk her heart one more time?

Red, White, and Bridesmaid
Jess Caldwell is the third in line to wear the mistletoe headband until she’s kissed. But it’s her best friend Kara’s wedding, Jess needs to keep her mind on designing the flowers and not on the fact that Kara’s older brother, Darrin, who she’s had a crush on for years will be there.
Darrin’s happy to be moving home, and what is even more of a pleasant surprise is seeing her again. Jess isn’t the geeky girl he remembered when he left. But after all the mean things he said in the past, will she give him another chance?
When things at the wedding go wrong, more than fireworks fly for this 4th of July wedding. 
Will love be in the air?

The Reluctant Bride
Penelope Moore’s last boyfriend had no qualms about cheating even after he professed his undying love. As a wedding event planner Penelope has seen plenty of happily-ever-after. But with her terrible luck in the relationship department, she is reluctant to believe it will ever happen to her.
Ferguson enjoyed the freedom of bachelorhood until he met his last girlfriend. He considered her the love of his life until she betrayed him. Without his consent, she used his professional experience and knowledge as a private investigator to write and publish a best-selling novel. Ferguson couldn’t forgive her underhanded deceit and ended their relationship.
When Ferguson meets Penelope he is once again willing to risk his heart, but Penelope isn’t as trusting. Just when he is beginning to win the beautiful event planner’s heart, his ex-girlfriend arrives in town and causes heartache all over again.
Can Penelope and Ferguson trust each other and their hearts enough to get their happily-ever-after? 
Not Always a Bridesmaid by Sharon Kleve & Jennifer Conner


(Romantic Anthology)

Not Always a BridesmaidSkye dreams of being a wedding planner and one by one she deals with three Bridezillas formerly known as co-workers. The only highlight for all of her work is meeting Chasen, a handsome and hardworking guy growing a successful limousine service, one long hour at a time.

Over shared cake, a cup of coffee and a trip to the Emergency department, these two find there is more to the perfect romance than lace, champagne and a rigid schedule for nuptials. They may have the right chemistry for love and more!

THE PROFESSIONAL BRIDESMAID is a quick little romance that proves love and a sense of humor make everything perfect. Jennifer Conner has penned a short little romance that is as sweet as the frosting on the wedding cake of love. A handsome and strong hero, a sweet and rather unlucky heroine with a heart of gold, this is perfect for a smile-worthy break from reality!


It’s light reading with only a touch of drama and some lovely fluff! Sharon Kleve’s THE UNDECIDED BRIDE is a delightful little romance that proves, sometimes love finds you in the most unusual ways.

Bridgette is a wedding planner, she has seen it all, she is also engaged, but she questions why. Her “charming” fiancĂ© needs a wife to climb the corporate ladder, but he needs her now, not when Bridgette finally stops making excuses about setting a date. Ding, ding, ding! You guessed it, trouble in Paradise, or maybe it never could be Paradise. Good Ole Steven has a plan, to send in a buddy to pose as a groom setting up what would become Bridgette’s “dream wedding.”

One thing Mason hadn’t planned on was falling for Bridgette. Why should Steven get the girl? Does the girl even want Steven when Mason is right there, being exactly what she never knew she wanted?

Have fun with this one, forget the deceit, forget Steven, he just may get his…There is no high-stress angst, just two people finding someone special to make their lives complete.

There is something magical about the quirky mistletoe headband four friends have shared. Two have found their special someone and Jess is the next one up to keep the enchantment going. Will wearing the headband make sparks fly for Jess and her childhood crush, Darrin? Will Darrin see more than the pesky little kid he used to torment?

RED, WHITE, AND BRIDESMAID by Jennifer Conner is that magical tale that will melt the hearts of romantics everywhere, because who doesn’t love a sweet romance come true?

Penelope may know the sting of betrayal, and she may be a little love-shy, but when Ferguson, (also betrayed by the woman he thought he would give up his merry bachelorhood for), pours on his simple, yet sincere charm, sparks are flying and tails are wagging! Will the wedding planner finally get her day to say I do?

Simple and sigh-worthy, this quick read from Sharon Kleve is the perfect ray of loveshine to make readers smile. THE RELUCTANT BRIDE proves that there is someone for everyone, but sometimes you need to sort through the frogs before the real prince appears. A slice of wonderful with a fluffy frosting on top!

These four fluffy, bright tales are the perfect summertime read to add some sweet and light romance from two wonderful authors! Thank you Sharon Kleve and Jennifer Conner!


The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

The Former Assassin
by Nikki Stern

My rating: 5 stars

Publisher: Ruthenia Press (January 3, 2018)
Publication Date: January 3, 2018
Genre: Suspense
Print Length: 311 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Susan Foster wants to retire. Her boss wants her dead.

After decades as Victor Kemp’s off-the books killer, Suzanne finally quits. Not until five years later does Kemp discover how thoroughly she’s deceived him. Determined to punish her, he tracks her to Wales to watch her die. Instead, he walks into a trap.

Believing themselves safe at last, Suzanne and her family relocate to London, where she hopes to find the peace that has eluded her for so long. Her son is engaged to a nobleman’s daughter; her husband has a good job with British Intelligence. Yet she still struggles with restless dreams and the premonition that her nemesis has survived.

He has: Kemp, though severely injured, is rebuilding his empire and plotting revenge. He’s prepared to risk everything to end the former assassin. He may not be the only one.

Suzanne has no choice: to protect those she loves, she will be forced to kill again. Assassins, it seems, can never retire.
The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

The Former AssassinShe gave up everything for her job and the boss from Hell. Now assassin Suzanne Foster is done, it’s time to retire and finally live the life she has only dreamed of. But Victor Kemp has other ideas for his prized employee, his severance package includes death, Suzanne’s.

In an edgy tale of deceit, murder, intrigue and a testimony of the things we’ll do for love, one woman will fight for her family, her freedom and her life.

Looking for a fast-paced thriller to sink your teeth and your time into? Do you enjoy twists of deceit or look forward to those dark pasts coming back to haunt the main character? Want to see some hard-boiled action that will have you hanging on each page?

As long as you don’t need a snowy-pure hero or heroine, and don’t mind tarnished characters caught up in the webs they weave, THE FORMER ASSASSIN by Nikki Stern is a world of intrigue that never lets up!

Strong characters, bad guys, and a global game of hide ‘n’ seek make for a powerful reason to get lost in a book that will leave you breathless. Remember, NEVER mess with a woman's family.

I received a complimentary Review Copy from Nikki Stern as part of a Blog Tour Review.

Smart Tass by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff (OHellNo, #1)

Smart Tass
by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

My rating: 5 stars

Series: OHellNo - Book 1
Publisher: Mimi Boutique (April 11, 2017)
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Genre: Romantic Comedy | NA
Print Length: 236 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble


He's the hot college quarterback all the girls want.
She's the smart girl he loves to pick on.
And now that they're all grown up, things are about to get geekin' ugly...

My name is Tass. I'm smart, I'm driven, and I am determined not to let prankster Hunter Johnson continue raining on my parade. When we were little, he'd pull my hair and call me names. When we were teenagers, he'd throw food and tease me for being a flat-chested virgin.

But now that we've ended up at the same college, he's out of his hot head if he thinks he can keep messing with my life. It's like he's fixated on me or something. Well, guess what, Mr. Amazefootball? I'm not that geeky little girl anymore and you do not screw with a smart woman.

So what's my plan?
It's definitely wild, and he's about to find out...


Smart Tass by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff (OHellNo, #1)

Smart Tass (OHellNo, #1)Ahhh, revenge, a dish best served cold, right? To make it sweeter, Tass thinks she is finally going to get the upper hand in her lifelong dysfunctional relationship with hot jock Hunter Johnson. Too bad our little genius forgot that her heart would become part of the equation and just maybe there is more to “the Hunt” than rock hard abs, a pair of gorgeous eyes and a penchant for driving her crazy with his antics!

Mimi Jean Pamfiloff is the creator extraordinaire of SMART TASS the opening salvo in the OHellNo romantic comedy series! ‘Nuff said, right?

Quirky characters, awkward moments and a lifetime of interaction of the not-so-romantic kind will come to a head of epic proportions in college as Tass and Hunter find themselves exposed to the truth! Told through Tass’s snarky voice, I laughed a lot, sometimes having a chuckle break through two pages later! And Hunter? Um, he really wasn’t quite the Neanderthal Tass saw him as!

Pages and pages of fun, light-hearted reading nestled within a cast of characters that are priceless!
Let go of reality, live this tale, shake your head and be thoroughly entertained! Then think back to YOUR younger years, whatever happened to the kid who tormented you mercilessly? Did you ever get paybacks? How did that work out for you?

Stray Magic: A Strays Novel #1 by Kelly Meding

Stray Magic: A Strays Novel

My Rating:
Written by Kelly Meding
Series: A Strays Novel (Book 1)
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: July 24, 2018
ISBN-10: 0062847686
ISBN-13: 978-0062847683
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Shiloh Harrison was hoping for a few days off to recover from a particularly nasty assignment, preferably with the help of the talented hands (and, well, the rest of his body too) of her sexy boyfriend, Vincent. But when a group of vampires takes an entire trailer park hostage, there’s nothing to do but make her apologies and get to the scene.

Such is the life of a Federal Marshal in the Paranormal Investigators Unit.

Yet this isn’t like her typical track-and-nab case: something is going on that has vampires scared, and it takes all her strength not to imagine what could frighten such powerful creatures. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have that option. Her boss is MIA, someone is snatching vampires, and there’s a ticking clock that can only end one way: a bloodbath.

Unless she can stop it.
Stray Magic: A Strays NovelStray Magic: A Strays Novel by Kelly Meding

Shiloh Harrison is a Federal Marshal in the Paranormal Investigating Unit. She is taking some much-needed time off after a very difficult assignment when she is called back in because a large group of vampires have just taken a trailer park hostage.

Vampires are running scared and its Shiloh’s job to figure out why when her boss suddenly appears as a talking head…

Delightfully surprised and found myself completely engaged in Meding's Stray Magic. The first book in the Stray series, I'm sure this won't be my last. I connected with the characters, was ecstatic by its uniqueness and riveted to the plot. I love urban fantasy, this is one I will be following.

I received this ARC copy of Stray Magic from HarperCollins - Harper Voyager. This is my honest and voluntary review. Stray Magic is set for publication June 16, 2018.



#Cover Reveal - If You Wrong Us by Dawn Klehr, designed by Najla Qamber Designs


If You Wrong Us
Dawn Klehr
(Anniversary Edition)
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
A dark and disturbing thriller that, “reads like Gone Girl through a teen lens.” – Kirkus Reviews
Becca and Johnny become entangled after a car crash steals the lives of two people they love. Officially, the crash is an accident. But Becca and Johnny are convinced: someone did this.
As they plot revenge against the person responsible, a bond–intense, unyielding, and manic–takes hold of them. And in an unexpected turn of events, they fall for each other.
Or so they think.
In an upside-down world where decay is beautiful and love and hate become one, Becca and Johnny find themselves grappling with reality. Nothing is exactly what it seems, including what they’ve come to believe about the crash. Question is: will they learn the truth before it’s too late?
No. The question is: when they learn the truth, will they care?


Author Bio:
Dawn Klehr is the author of the young adult thrillers: The Cutting Room Floor and If You Wrong Us.
She began her career in TV news and though she’s been on both sides of the camera, she prefers to lurk behind the lens. Mostly, she loves to get lost in stories –in film, the theater, or on the page – and is a sucker for both the sinister and the sappy. She’s currently channeling her dark side as she works on her next book.
Dawn lives in the Twin Cities with her funny husband, adorable son, and naughty dog.

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Redemption Grove by David Rawding

Redemption Grove
by David Rawding

My rating: 5 stars

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC (June 26, 2018)
Publication Date: June 26, 2018 *Released June 12, 2018 B&N*
Genre: Suspense
Print Length: 316 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Twenty-one-year-old Chris Olson has hit rock-bottom. His addiction to painkillers has left him homeless and ruined. Hoping to give him a clean start, his sister, Aida, convinces him to move to Anchorage to live with her. 

But trouble seems to follow Chris, and he brings it right to Aida’s doorstep. Faced with having to kick her brother out of the house, Aida enlists the help of her friend, Doctor Max Fitwell. Max, haunted by a recent personal tragedy, wants nothing more than to be left alone in his misery. But he reluctantly agrees to allow Chris to stay with him and to help build a cabin. 

Chris and Max, two men who are each struggling to find their own reasons to live, navigate the wilderness of Alaska, where they’ll either become better men or die trying.
Redemption Grove by David Rawding

Redemption GroveJust when his life had spiraled completely out of control and landed in the cesspool of rock bottom, twenty-one-year-old Chris Olson was thrown a lifeline he couldn’t refuse. Ever the optimist, always looking out for her younger brother, Aida provides the money and means for Chris to leave his drugged out world behind in Alaska. There was one caveat, one painkillers, no slip-ups, and he would have to go cold turkey.

Dr. Max Fitwell has just faced the most horrendous lost he could ever imagine. When the skilled surgeon can no longer trust himself with a scalpel, he runs to the place he and his late wife once thought of as a slice of heaven, determined to become a hermit and punish himself for living.

The broken addict and the broken widower will be forced to endure each other when Chris breaks his promise to Aida and Aida implores Max to take Chris on, knowing the potential for healing for them both. Together they will build a cabin in the wilderness of Alaska as they rebuild themselves from the ashes of their lives.

REDEMPTION GROVE by David Rawding is a raw tale of survival when all is lost, finding meaning in a life that seems meaningless and the inner courage to dare to become a better human.

You may find Chris to be completely weak and self-absorbed, because only the weak become addicts, right? Not true, he was a young man who didn’t know how to deal with the cards life dealt. He is the poster child for the label addict. Max has fallen so far into despair and depression after the loss of his wife, he implodes on himself.

David Rawding has taken two dark “afflictions” without being overly maudlin and weaves a tale of hope and new beginnings where a dead end sign once stood. Not only an entertaining read, but one filled with the realities of human frailties. Part suspense, part family dynamics and even a touch of romance as we witness two men struggle to become whole.

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Red Adept.



Sweet & Sassy Brides #Release Tour & #Giveaway

SWEET AND SASSY BRIDES
by Mimi Barbour, Jacquie Biggar, Alicia Street, Dani Haviland, Stephanie Queen, Stacy Eaton, Rachelle Ayala, Katy Walters, and Aileen Fish
Enter to win a 
KINDLE FIRE
&
Book Cover Charm Bracelet

Ends July 4, 2018

Forever in Ink by Jude Ouvrard #Release Blitz

FOREVER IN INK
Ink Series Book 4
by Jude Ouvrard

Not Her Gargoyle by Annie Nicholas Blitz and Giveaway


Not Her Gargoyle
Annie Nicholas
Publication date: June 18th 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Ruby is done with jerks, dead-end jobs, and eviction notices. Everyone else she knows is finding ways out of this crappy neighborhood, so why can’t she? Since opportunities refuse to fall from the sky, Ruby makes her own. To hell with the little voice in her heart whispering about love. She never met a man she wanted to keep…then she met a gargoyle. Men were boring after all.
Nick was a con, a thief, and a rogue. He couldn’t keep a dime in his pocket even if it was glued. Then he met a ruby. Not one from the earth but one of flesh and blood. And ass. Let’s not forget the ass. Stealing her heart was now all he wanted.
He has a plan that could make both their dreams come true. It only involves an itsy-bitsy risk. All they must do is rob a witch.
Oh, and avoid the dragons.
Grab your copy for only 99¢ during release week only!
EXCERPT:
A distant dragon roar made Nick miss a wing beat. He swirled out of control for a second and caught his balance. One of them was close and he bet it was Eoin. Masquerading as a human would help Nick avoid recapture. He increased his speed, heading back to the apartment.
Landing on Ruby’s fire escape, he found the window cracked open for him. He smiled at the small gesture of kindness. She was one of the sweetest women. He recalled how fiercely she’d protected her sister from the vampire and himself when they had invaded the apartment. That felt like forever ago. She had been ready to fight them both. Brave and beautiful and kind.
Once more he wondered why she didn’t have a mate.
Nick climbed inside and found her on the couch, feet propped on the coffee table as she watched the evening news. Three empty bottles of beer sat next to the couch.
“Honey, I’m home,” he sang out. He’d always wanted to say that.
She gave him a huge grin and waved him over. “Come sit with me.”
The couch seemed too small for the two of them so he sat on the floor in front of her instead, leaning his back against it.
“Look.” She pointed to the television. “More gargoyles.”
His brothers were on the evening news, flying over the city’s port. “Yeah, I know them.” The dragon would hear about this if he wasn’t already watching. Nick hoped his brothers would lie quiet for a few days so Eoin wouldn’t blast them from the skies.
Ruby draped herself over his shoulders and handed him a beer, rubbing her face on his skin. “You’re very warm.” She snuggled closer between his wings, her arms lazily circling his neck from behind. “Can you shoot flames like the dragons?”
He snorted and took a sip of beer. “No. Are you drunk?” He eyed the bottles. There were only three. Then again, she was much smaller than a gargoyle. Maybe three was all it took.
“Nah, but I’m feeling good.” She sighed and seemed to melt against him. “I had an awful day.”
He reached behind and scratched her scalp with the tips of his claws like he would any family member in distress. He knew from experience that it felt good. He’d had a bad day too. Touching her made him feel better.
She moaned in his ear and it sent shivers down his spine. She bent over his shoulder more, giving him better access to her head. “That feels great.”
He undid the pins holding her hair and allowed it to cascade over his chest before continuing to massage her scalp. “What happened?” She felt so soft and tiny. Delicate like an angel. A brief whiff of her sweet smell and he struggled with the urge to bury his nose into her hair.
“What do you mean?” Her voice was muffled against his skin. Sleepy.
“Why was today so awful?”
“My boss sold the diner. I might be unemployed soon and my landlord is pressuring for rent.”
Nick finished his beer, absentmindedly scratching Ruby’s head. Stalking her boss until he changed his mind on selling the diner would probably end up with the police being called. Killing him was not Nick’s style. “Who’s the new owner?” He moved his hands to her shoulders and gently massaged the knots. Maybe they could be convinced to keep Ruby as an employee.
“The right side is worse than the left. Oh God, right there. Don’t stop.”
Those breathless pleas made him shudder. His wings reflexively expanded. She was setting off instinctual triggers. He breathed through the strong urge to carry her away somewhere dark and secluded. Teach her a thing or two about gargoyle anatomy. The desire to show her exactly how good he was at making women scream grew. The good kind of scream. Not the bad kind. Well, he could make them do that, too.
“I don’t know about the diner. I imagine I’ll meet them soon. My boss says that my job is secure—”
“That’s good news.” He ran long strands of red hair under his nose. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply. So, he didn’t have to beat anyone.
“It is, but it’s also a lie. I’ve been through this before. The shifters are trying to clean up this area. They are building shifter oriented neighborhoods close to here and investors are gobbling up every available building.”
“They are planning to make this neighborhood nicer?” That meant safer. Shifters were territorial and the majority responsible citizens. Any criminals in the area would be smart to move. He scratched his chin. Most shifters didn’t care for his kind.
“Nicer means more expensive. It means my landlord can increase the rent, which means I’m going to have to move just like everyone else.”
This wasn’t the Ruby he remembered. She seemed deflated draped over his body in defeat. “But you could find a better job at one of these new businesses.”
“That’s if I can find a job. The last place I worked was a biker bar. The new owners renovated the place, it became an after-work lounge for hipsters. Then I was fired because I didn’t fit their expectations as a bartender.”


Author Bio:
Annie Nicholas writes paranormal romance with a twist. She has courted vampires, hunted with shifters, and slain a dragon's ego all with the might of her pen. Riding the wind of her imagination, she travels beyond the restraints of reality and shares them with anyone wanting to read her stories. Mother, daughter, and wife are some of the other hats she wears while hiking through the hills and dales of her adopted state of Vermont.
Annie writes for Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, and Lyrical Press.

GIVEAWAY!

A surprise bag that will contain at least signed print copies of 
Not His Dragon, Not His Werewolf, and Not His Vampire
June 28, 2018
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Digging a Hole by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff #Release Day #Giveaway

 

Digging A Hole

Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
Synopsis:
From New York Times Bestseller, Mimi Jean Pamfiloff, comes a new Romantic Comedy. He’s the meanest boss ever. She’s the sweet shy intern. They’re about to wreck each other crazy. My name is Sydney Lucas. I am smart, deathly shy, and one hundred percent determined to make my own way in the world. Which is why I jumped at the chance to intern for Mr. Nick Brooks despite his reputation. After ten failed interviews at other companies, he was the only one offering. Plus, everyone says he knows his stuff, and surely a man as stunningly handsome as him can’t be “the devil incarnate,” right? Wrong. Oh…that man. That freakin’ man has got to go! I’ve been on the job one week, and he’s insulted my mother, wardrobe shamed me, and managed to make me cry. Twice. Underneath that stone-cold, beautiful face is the evilest human being ever. But I’m not going to quit. Oh no. For once in my life, I’ve got to make a stand. Only, every time I open my mouth, I can’t quite seem to muster the courage. Perhaps my revenge needs to come in another form: destroying him quietly. Because I’ve got a secret. I’m not really just an intern, and Sydney Lucas isn’t my real name.

BUY LINKS

 

About the Author

MIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling romance author with over a million books sold worldwide. Although she obtained her MBA and worked for more than fifteen years in the corporate world, she believes that it’s never too late to come out of the romance closet and follow your dream. Mimi lives with her Latin Lover hubby, two pirates-in-training (their boys), and the rat terrier duo, Snowflake and Mini Me, in Arizona. She hopes to make you laugh when you need it most and continues to pray daily that leather pants will make a big comeback for men.
Sign up for Mimi’s mailing list for giveaways and new release news!


3 winners: 1 grand prize: one full set of the OHellNo Series, books 1-3 + SWAG. 
2 second prize winners: 1 signed copy of DIGGING A HOLE

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Congratulations to the Winners of Russ Melrose's Finding AJ #Giveaway!




Signed Print Copy:

Daniel M

eCopies:

Nikki

Desiree K

Jolanda L


Survive the infected and find the serial killer ... or die trying.
Finding AJ
by Russ Melrose

My rating: 5 stars

Series: Apocalypse Journeys - Book 2 - STAND ALONE READ
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Russ Melrose
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Thriller
Print Length: 336 pages
Available from: Amazon
Survive the infected and find the serial killer ... or die trying.

(Authors note. Both novels in the "Apocalypse Journeys" series -- Jacob's Odyssey and Finding AJ -- are standalone novels and do not need to be read in any specific order.)

The world has fallen apart, the FBI gone, but former Agent Jules Vandevelde won’t stop. She can’t. She’s driven to find the psychopathic serial killer known as the Calligrapher.

Her search leads her to the small town of Gideon in Southern Utah. There, amongst the 116 survivors, a serial killer hides in plain sight. There’s only one clue to his identity. Using a scalpel, he inscribes the letters AJ into the abdominal area of his victims--postmortem--in an ancient Chinese text called Tsao, the lettering precise and artistic.

Jules knows the key to finding the Calligrapher lies in discovering the identity of AJ. If she can find AJ, she can find the Calligrapher. But the Calligrapher knows who Jules is. Jules must survive the infected and find the Calligrapher before she becomes his latest victim. 
Finding AJ by Russ Melrose (Apocalypse Journeys, #2)

Finding AJ (Apocalypse Journeys #2)In what could only be called dedication to justice, bull-headed determination and probably an obsession, one agent from the now decimated FBI will continue her quest to find the twisted monster known as the Calligrapher.

Agent Jules Vanedvelde needs a sense of sanity and control in a world now filled with flesh eating zombies, road warriors and danger at every turn. She has the one clue that she hopes will lead her to finding the Calligrapher and the remains of his first victim, the letters “AJ.” Follow her quest for justice and survival in a post-apocalyptic world where law and order falls victim to survival of the fittest for many. Jules knows the Calligrapher is still alive, and she will get her man, because if she doesn’t he will surely get her.

FINDING AJ by Russ Melrose is as much a suspenseful thriller as it is a brittle tale of survival. Share Jules’s memories when the hunt began. Feel the losses she has faced and understand the passion with which she hunts, even as the world around her has collapsed. Is she ready to face her greatest nightmare or will her own blind fury lead her straight into his lair to become his next canvas in blood?

Suspense? I’m in! Post-apocalyptic flesh eaters? Yes, please. The fight for the survival of humanity against all odds? Bring it. To feel as if I were there, interacting with the varied personalities simultaneously gelling and being repulsed on the apocalyptic steroids of stress? Creative genius.

Russ Melrose has added his personal touch to the apocalypse, by going beyond survival, by giving us one heroine who still feels the need to protect and serve by taking down a twisted serial killer determined to continue toying with what is left of humanity.

Action, a little gore, and razor-wire tension throughout! Jules is tough, but not super-human, still, I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side! A great read that bends genres!

Character Interview – Jules

Why does Jules have such difficulty developing relationships of any depth?

It goes back to when Jules was fourteen and her step-father died. Her step-father was everything to her. Jules' relationship with her mother was all but nonexistent (she even refers to her mother as a "ghost" at one point). So, when Jules' step-father died, Jules felt as if she'd been abandoned. She felt alone and would do anything not to have to repeat that experience again. Out of her fear of abandonment, she developed a defense mechanism that led her to shy away from developing close, personal relationships. If you're not close to anyone, you can't suffer the pain of being abandoned.

That's why Jules felt most at home in the FBI. It was a perfect fit for her. Her relationships in the bureau were professional rather than personal. Rather than having friends, Jules had colleagues. Having colleagues fit right into Jules' comfort zone, and she could immerse herself in whatever cases she was working on. Outside the FBI, the few relationships she had were of a casual, convenient nature, nothing more. 

What is Jules' character arc?

Jules' character arc is subtle, but it is there. Since Jules' main focus is on finding the Calligrapher, and the novel only spans about a two-week period, there's not a lot of time for significant changes to occur. On top of that, Jules isn't consciously looking to make changes in her life. But through her experiences, they begin to take shape anyway. During the investigation, she makes a personal connection (not at all sexual) with Beckerman – the special agent in charge of the task force. Beckerman reminds Jules of her step-father. Still, out of a deeply ingrained habit, she keeps her distance and keeps the relationship strictly professional. Something she comes to regret later on.

In Gideon, as time goes by, she gradually begins to connect with the people there on a personal level – at least those that she doesn't see as suspects.

And later in the novel, Jules opens up to Addy (a teenage travel companion from Arizona) about Jules' personal life – though Jules has to be prompted by Addy to do so. But Jules chooses to open up because she feels it might help Addy. This isn't something Jules would have likely done at the beginning of the novel. The final scene of the novel shows just how far Jules has come where her willingness and ability to connect with others is concerned.

With the world having fallen apart and the infected everywhere, why does Jules choose to go after the Calligrapher?

Where her motivation to find the Calligrapher is concerned, justice, a sense of purpose, guilt, and revenge all play a part, though not equally.


Jules' motives are fairly complex. It's about more than seeking justice, though the notion of seeking justice plays a part. When the world falls apart, Jules realizes she still needs a sense of purpose in her life beyond merely surviving. In the past, the FBI had always provided her with a sense of purpose. Now, other than struggling to survive, she has no real purpose. Finding the Calligrapher helps fill that void in her life. But Jules' motives for going after the Calligrapher run deeper. For Jules, finding the Calligrapher has become personal. Sure, she wants to balance the scales for his victims, but more than anything Jules is driven by feelings of guilt and a touch of revenge.



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Russ Melrose's path to becoming a writer has been anything but conventional. Over the years, he's done a bit of everything--a jack of all trades you might say. He spent time in the military, the ASA (Army Security Agency, and yes, it's related to the NSA), worked in business (accounting, assistant buyer, management), taught at a secretarial college, spent time as a letter carrier for the post office, and he even mesmerized a few clients here and there as a hypnotherapist. He also spent time in the blue collar sector (building floors for mobile homes, a job retrofitting military vehicles for the army, etc.). Along the way, he also found time to get degrees (B.A. and M.A.) in English from the University of Utah and Utah State University respectively. And eventually he became a writer.

Writers who've influenced him the most are Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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