Ride Harder-Gordon L. Rottman


Another classic western yarn from a master storyteller, Ride Harder follows cowpuncher Bud Eugen and his resourceful fiancée Marta as they confront all of the dangers Texas in the late 1880’s holds, both old and newfangled. When the seed money for Bud and Marta’s ranch is stolen from a local bank out of its Yankee-made safe, along with an Army arms shipment, Bud and Marta go back to Mexico to secure their future and that of Texas itself, come hell, high water, or steam-powered locomotives.

Excerpt—Ride Harder                       BUY HERE

Some mornings just weren’t as good as others. Marta was stomping round kicking rocks and shaking her finger at somebody who weren’t there. I was expecting her to start chewing prickly pears and spitting thorns. She was justly put out.

I weren’t too happy my own self, us being stuck out on the Eagle Pass-Del Rio Road without much of anything. Humiliating too seeing three road agents plain got the drop on us. They were sitting their horses in a mesquite stand pointing pistols at arm’s length. They’d taken our horses, saddles, guns, and a couple of thousand in hard-won cash that they didn’t know was in my saddlebags. That would wipe the silver lining off your cloud. I figured they’d be doing a happy days jig…bastards.

So I was feeling pretty down, and Marta came tramping over as prickly as a cactus. That was all I needed, all the thunder and lightning of a storm without the wind and the rain. I could of surely used some rain, seeing as we didn’t have any water. South Texas in March was pleasing weather, but it was warm enough to bring up a thirst. Them robbers hadn’t had the common decency to leave us a canteen. Lower than catfish turds.

Marta was standing over me—I was sitting on a rock—tapping her foot, her arms crossed. I looked up, and she was about as pissed as my mama the day I set the hayrick on fire—didn’t mean to, just trying out a cigarette I’d rolled with her makings. First time Mama broke my nose.

“What you looking at me for, niña? It ain’t my fault. Sumbitches got the drop on us good.”

From under the sombrero she’d taken off a dead bandito last December, her big ol’ black eyes were glaring a hole right through me. She’d held up her left hand to let me know again they’d taken her silver ring.

Here it comes.

Like a clap of thunder, she slapped her hands, stomped her sandaled foot, and jabbed her middle finger down the side trail.

“¿Qué? You want me to go after them thieving desperadoes? I ain’t got no caballo, pistola, carabina, or escopeta,” the last being her own shotgun the road agents took. “You know they even took your derringer, uh, poco pistola.”

She slashed her hand cross her throat, then made a strangling motion and a scary gurgling choking noise. I know a lot of bad Mex words for people you’re mad at, and I bet she was thinking all of them and some I’d never heard. I say thinking, seeing Marta’s as mute as an angel’s statue, not that she’s exactly an angel.

“All we can do is start on el camino por Del Rio and hope some friendly riders or vaqueros or a freight wagon comes along. I can borrow some dinero from that gun dealer, uh, armes vendedor Iknow. Besides, I can have Roberto make you another ring.”

That didn’t cut it. She grabbed hold of my hands and pulled. Being fourteen-three hands high, that’s not even five-foot, she’d not be able to get me up, but I stood anyway. I learned some time ago there’s no sense fighting her will. She’d really gotten mad at me the time I measured her with my hands like measuring up a horse I was buying.“

Well, all right then. There’s no telling how far we gotta walk. Heck, I’m hungry, tengo hambre. I need some chuck, uh, comida. We might be walking mañana and still ain’t found them pendejos. We need some agua too.”

Two sequels are in the works, Marta’s Ride and Marta’s Daughter.

Ride Harder–The sequel.
The Hardest Ride–A Western novel, Hartwood Publishing
USA Today Bestseller
Peacemaker Award Winner– Best Western and Finalist– Best First Western Novels
Spur Award Finalist– Best Traditional Western Novel

Tears of the River–A YA survival e-novel, Hartwood Publishing


USA Today Bestselling Author Gordon L.Rottman and The Hardest Ride


I’m often asked why I wrote a traditional Western, especially since I had read very few. I do like good Western movies though. The book idea started as a contemporary novel involving today’s drug cartels on the Texas-Mexican border, but doing research I decided I could do a lot more setting it in 1880s. Besides, I liked the challenge.

I will be the first to say that it is gritty and violent and far from PC. Its 1886, not today, and I strongly believe I building an accurate and authentic impression. The big surprise for me is the number of women who like The Hardest Ride. That is because of Marta, a feisty 16-year old mute Mexican girl. She is quite endearing and becomes a focus of the story.

The Hardest Ride won the Western Fictioneers’ Peacemaker Award for Best Western Novel 2014, was a Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award Finalist for Best First Western Novel 2014, and was a Western Writers of America Spur Award Finalist for Best Traditional Western Novel for 2013. It was a USA Today best seller and an Amazon No. 1 best seller.

I had thought it would be a standalone novel, but the demand for a sequel led to Ride Harder which has been just released and at least two more sequels are scheduled.

Excerpt—The Hardest Ride                         BUY HERE

At one point Marta, confused about Bud, his intensions, and what her fate as an all alone orphan might be, leaves Bud’s campsite during the night and returned to a town they’d passed. She’s torn between trust her life with Bud or striking out on her own.Stringing Burro to Cracker after moving over all the gear I’d piled on Cracker, I headed back to the church. I dismounted and tied Cracker to a hitching post. I don’t know why I turned and looked across the plaza. I spied a tiny figure sitting cross-legged beside a saloon door. I walked across the muddy plaza leading the animals.She held her eating bowl in her lap. A passing mechanic dropped in a coin. Two of those wretched New York railroad trash came out of the saloon door. They said something to each other, their heads together. One laughed and hocked a gob of chewing tobacco at her bowl. He missed, splattering it on her shawl. Marta didn’t move, didn’t look up. They laughed mean like and saw me coming.“Here’s a sporting cowboy. You want a piece of that chili-popper, fella?”“This here greaser runt’s free for the takin’,” said the other with no room to talk, seeing his shirt and pants front were black with grease.I clutched my revolver’s grip and felt a pistol-whipping coming on. I kept a hold on my temper and paid them no mind. The two maggots smartly left without saying nothing more.She was shivering. I knelt down and wiped the spit off with my bandana. “Disgusting damn Yankees.” There were tears in those big dark eyes.I don’t know why, but I stood and reached out my hand. She glanced at me, seemed to sigh, reached for my hand, hesitated, and then took it. A chill shot though me, but it wasn’t from her cold hand. I don’t know what it was. Gripping me like she’d never let go, she held on tight until I wrapped her serape around her and lifted her onto Burro. I didn’t care who saw it. She sat there sort of limp, looking all played out, just staring at the ground.“Let’s go to Eagle Pass. I’ll get that job, and we’ll see what’ll happen.”Marta was still shaking with tears in her eyes and her lips quivering. Taking out a pair of wool socks, I worked them over her hands.“We’ll stop early today, build a big ol’ fire, fuego,”—I made hand signs—“and we’ll haveyour frijole beans.”She gave a sorta smile and nodded. I stuck the hand mirror into her tow sack. I felt real queer and couldn’t explain the feeling in my belly.

The sequel, Ride Harder, has recently been released.

Ride Harder–The sequel.
The Hardest Ride–A Western novel, Hartwood Publishing
USA Today Bestseller
Peacemaker Award Winner– Best Western and Finalist– Best First Western Novels
Spur Award Finalist– Best Traditional Western Novel

Tears of the River–A YA survival e-novel, Hartwood Publishing

Nightwalker: A Leah Wolfe SINS Novel


Leah Wolfe has retired from serious police work in favor of seeking a normal life. Her unique, yet not fully discovered supernatural abilities allow her to speak to the souls of the dead, providing vital information in the search for their killers. Her abilities have also cost her almost everyone she has ever loved including her mother, who abandoned her to fend for herself on the streets, and, most recently, her ex-fiancé Joaquín Wildhorse, Chief Detective of the Native American Reservation Police Department. But when Joaquín’s new lover is found brutally murdered on the reservation, he turns to Leah for help. The hunt for a vicious killer leads Leah to sexy Ian Nightwalker and Leah is unable to walk away from the case that may cost her her most guarded possession of all. Her heart.


Ian took my hand and led me to a glass-enclosed atrium. Stars glittered above me through the glass ceiling and the desert outside was backdropped by the mountain range. A jetted spa that trickled a waterfall into a large swimming pool illuminated the room. Palm trees surrounded the edge of the spa providing privacy. Wow.

“It’s like an oasis in the desert.” I spoke softly so as not to disturb the natural peace in the room. Like talking in a library.

Ian walked over to a large stone bench and sat down. He pulled his shirt over his head revealing his pale skin and muscles hidden beneath. I silently gasped and felt a wave of desire heat my body. Each muscle flexed and tensed as he moved to kick off his boots then pulled his socks over his feet. As he bent and exposed his back I couldn’t help but admire the breadth of his broad shoulders, my eyes following his spine down to his narrowing back and waist. His wavy black hair fell over his face and I was left with a view of his neck. I had the sudden urge to run my tongue along his exposed neckline to his kissable mouth. I wanted to run my hands over the strong shoulders and let them slowly caress a path down his chest and along the expanse of his stomach tracing the trail of soft, dark hair that led from his naval and disappeared under the denim of his jeans. I wanted to feel his hands fist in my hair as I explored his body.

I shook myself out of the thought.

My face blazed red as I saw Ian’s eyes bored into mine, the look of passion on his face that a man gets when knows you’re interested in more than just conversation.





Shore to Please

HRshoretopleaseThank you so much, Rhonda, for hosting me on your blog. I’m a Florida girl through and through, and I’ve always been fascinated by creatures that crawl, swim, and slither in the sea. One of my all-time favorite shows when I was a kid was Flipper, which spurred my lifelong love affair with dolphins.

I’ve learned a lot about these intelligent, complex, and charismatic mammals since then, and I know their lives in the wild and in human care generally aren’t as idyllic as I once believed. I don’t attach mystical qualities to dolphins like some people do, either. I’ve learned to appreciate them for what they are and what they aren’t.
Dolphins play a pivotal role in my Gulf Shore contemporary romance series. Those who know me won’t be surprised I’ve chosen to write about an aquarium and a west-central Florida beach town. Both locales are near and dear to my heart.

Gulf Shore Aquarium isn’t based on any one facility I’ve visited or yearned to see. It’s a composite of the best of what they have to offer. I’ve tried not to idealize, but I want readers to see GSA as a place where the animals are as content as they possibly can be and their needs are paramount.

That’s not to say, however, that GSA is controversy free. Animal rights activists, for better or worse, are keeping a close eye on the place. And even the employees struggle at times with the seemingly never-ending argument about freedom vs. captivity. My characters and my books wouldn’t be realistic if those topics didn’t come up, but my intent isn’t to preach or draw any proverbial lines in the sugary white sand.

My primary mission is to entertain and make you fall in love with the animals and the people of Gulf Shore and its aquarium. And who knows? You just might learn something, too.

Gulf Shore is a popular tourist destination that’s managed to maintain its small-town feel. It’s a place where you’ll taste salt on your skin and feel the Florida sun on your shoulders, a sea breeze ruffling your hair, and shells beneath your feet. You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy.
You’ll get up close and personal with sea life and fall in love with a talking parrot named Ozzie who acts like a little boy in a bird suit. You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress and to cheer others as they return to the wild.

Like many writers, I draw on my personal experiences when creating my characters and locales. For instance, there really is an African gray parrot named Ozzie. He’s one of my extremely spoiled pets, and he does talk in context sometimes, as he does in The Shore Thing, Gulf Shore Book 1.

I’ve also learned a lot about undersea life and aquarium operations as a volunteer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of movie star dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films. Let me be clear, though, that I am not writing about the people, policies, and animals at the world-famous Clearwater facility in my Gulf Shore series.

Gulf Shore banner for Annette MardisMy latest book, Shore to Please, the third installment in the series, spotlights one of my favorite characters, Paul “Flipper” O’Riley, head dolphin trainer at GSA. He’s loyal, funny, and hard-working, and he’s fighting an attraction to a woman who couldn’t be more wrong for him.

Tara Langley is cofounder of SWADS, short for Stop Whale and Dolphin Suffering. She thought she’d found the love of her life, but he betrayed her with another woman. So she buried herself in her mission: convincing Gulf Shore Aquarium that dolphins and whales belong in the wild, not in artificial pools.

If Tara had her way, Flipper would lose the job he loves, and for him that’s an impossible scenario. The aquarium’s dolphins are his babies, and his life revolves around them. While he’s open to having a real family one day, Tara is the last person he’d choose to be his wife and the mother of his children.

These two should be sworn enemies, after all. He certainly swears at the sight of her. And his surfer-dude looks and lover-boy reputation aren’t exactly what Ms. Prim and Tidy had in mind when she pictured her ideal man.

There’s no possible way a relationship between Flipper and Tara could work, right? They’re like fire and gasoline. So why do they both want so badly to light the match?

As the two struggle to find common ground amid the quicksand, Flipper and his coworkers become the targets of an increasingly more menacing campaign to force the aquarium to release the dolphins under its care.

Tara, whose group has picketed the aquarium in the past, immediately becomes suspect. Is she being falsely accused? Flipper is quick to defend her, but is she deceiving him along with the police? Or do more sinister forces have Gulf Shore Aquarium in their sights?

Gulf Shore Police Detective Joanna Tompkins is racing to catch those responsible before it’s too late.

While Shore to Please revolves around Flipper, Tara and the threats to the aquarium, the book also advances the story lines of other favorite characters, including Evan and Dani, Cosby and Monica, and Jo and Kelsey. Readers will meet a few new faces, too, and a couple more adorable critters join the cast as well.


Paul “Flipper” O’Riley backed away from the note as if he expected it to somehow lunge at his throat. The outrage, disgust, and, yes, he’d admit it, fear he felt at reading the vile threats composed on the single page of common white printer paper had his stomach roiling ominously.

The letters of each word had been cut from what looked like a glossy magazine and glued on like a ransom note from a classic crime drama. If the message hadn’t been so loathsome, Flipper might’ve laughed at how cartoonish it looked.

But the warning had been nailed to the front door of the cottage he rented across the street from the beach, and that in itself represented an alarming development. It meant, of course, that the animal rights crusaders who’d been hounding Flipper’s employer now knew where he lived.

With a hand he fought to keep from shaking, he drew his cell phone out of the case attached to his belt, scrolled through his contacts, and pressed a familiar number. It rang several times before the person on the other end answered with an impatient huff.

“Jo?” Flipper asked. “Is that you?”

“No, it’s the queen of England. What do you want?”

Joanna Tompkins’ characteristic grumpiness and brusque manner usually amused him, but Flipper wasn’t in the mood for her tough-chick act right now.

“I’ve got something here at my place that you need to see. Can you come over?”

“How many times do I have to tell you, Fish Brain? Even if you show me yours, I’m not going to show you mine. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” She gave a chuckle that he didn’t appreciate, given the circumstances.

“Hilarious, but I’m serious. Another of those nasty notes came, and this one’s even more personal than the others.”

Jo’s tone immediately changed into her no-nonsense cop voice. “It mentioned you specifically by name?”

“No, but it’s nailed to my front door.”

“At your cottage?” She sounded even more concerned now.


“Don’t touch it. I’ll be right over with a tech to dust for fingerprints.”

“I know the drill. I’m hanging up now and calling Kenshin.”

“See if he can meet me at your place. That’ll save me a trip to the aquarium.”


“And if you’re still on your doorstep, haul your happy ass inside right now and lock the door until I get there.”


“Did you call me for help or not?”

“All right, all right. You’re the boss.”

“And don’t you forget it.”

Wary now, Flipper looked around before doing as she ordered. Then he called his boss, Kenshin Hamasaki, supervisor of marine mammals at Gulf Shore Aquarium, and filled him in. Kenshin promised to drop what he was doing and be right over.

Flipper looked around his cozy living room—with its bland, impersonal furnishings straight from the rental property decorators’ manual—and then moved to his front windows to fully close the mini blinds. He wasn’t too proud to acknowledge Jo’s admonition had freaked him out, and he was too antsy to sit. Not that he’d feel safe settling onto either the loveseat or his favorite recliner, both near windows. He yanked his hand through his hair, annoyed with himself for letting the situation unsettle him and pissed off at whoever was disrupting his life this way.

Who would’ve thought being a dolphin trainer carried such potential for danger?

Buy links

Liquid Silver Books: http://www.lsbooks.com/shore-to-please-p1026.php

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/q9lmzsz

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shore-to-please-annette-mardis/1121964097?ean=9781622102297

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shore-to-please

All Romance: www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shoretoplease-1839913-153.html

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shore-to-please/id996612777?mt=11


Annette Mardis author photoAuthor bio

As a girl, Annette dreamed of being an astronaut, but she stank at science and math and became motion sick riding the bus home from school. So she went with her second choice—newspaper journalist—and stuck with it for more than three decades. After years of ignoring well-meaning people who said, “You should write a book,” she finally did. And then she wrote a few more. When she’s not working, Annette usually has her nose in someone else’s novel or her gaze glued to sports on TV. She has three totally spoiled pets, enjoys being the designated sightseer on her husband’s Harley, and volunteers at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of diva dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films.


Connect with Annette 

Website and blog: www.annettemardis.com/

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Twitter: @AnnetteMardis48

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Nightwalker: A Leah Wolfe SINS Novel


Nightwalker is the beginning of the SINS Novel Series and my writing career. I am currently writing the 6th book in the series. I hope you’ll enjoy the entire series and to get you started, I’ve posted the first chapter of Nightwalker: A Leah Wolfe SINS Novel here.  Happy Reading!


Leah Wolfe has retired from serious police work in favor of seeking a normal life. Her unique, yet not fully discovered supernatural abilities allow her to speak to the souls of the dead, providing vital information in the search for their killers. Her abilities have also cost her almost everyone she has ever loved including her mother, who abandoned her to fend for herself on the streets, and, most recently, her ex-fiancé Joaquín Wildhorse, Chief Detective of the Native American Reservation Police Department. But when Joaquín’s new lover is found brutally murdered on the reservation, he turns to Leah for help. The hunt for a vicious killer leads Leah to sexy Ian Nightwalker and Leah is unable to walk away from the case that may cost her her most guarded possession of all. Her heart.

Chapter One

The body was lying near the side of a little-used path just over the rise of a small hill at the base of the Western Mountains. The sun flashed long rays of silver from behind the white puffy clouds left over from the late October rains earlier this afternoon. The ground underneath my three-inch black satin stiletto heels turned into a pasty muck. I’d chosen the shoes to match the short black dress, form-fitted at the top with a flared skirt for my first and probably last date with the nice straight-laced attorney my best friend, Jessica Lawson, also an attorney, had set me up with. Definitely not the right shoes for trudging through the muddy desert floor near the crime scene.

That’s the problem with murderers, they are never considerate of your own plans.

I kept a spare pair of hiking boots, along with jeans, T-shirt and ponytail in my truck. It seemed old habits die hard.

I’d been out of this line of work for several months now, retired from the horrors of supernatural crime and worse, the brutality humans inflict upon one another.

Why was I here?

Good question. Like I said, old habits die hard and when a man who has saved your ass more than once asks for a favor, you do it.

I usually kept my long, light-brown hair pulled back in an elastic band. My pale blue eyes tend to darken when I’m angry. I’m sure they were dark now.

I had let Jess talk me into a day at the local salon and dropped fifty bucks to have my hair teased until it was wavy and hanging long down the nape of my neck for my date tonight. Money well spent. Riight!

Unfortunately, I’d let my date pick me up. My car, along with all of my equipment tucked nicely in the duffel bag on my back seat, was parked miles away in my driveway.

The date in question, Stan Winfield, currently leaned against his bright red Porsche, eyes looking a little too wide. His dark brown hair was cut close, his suit was probably more expensive than a month of my pay. Not that I was complaining, the suit was nicely tailored over a lean body that I was sure he earned from regular workouts at the local country club. A little to thin and tall for my tastes though, which brings me back to the three-inch heels. When you’re five feet two inches and your date is nearing six feet, it’s a little hard to hold a conversation without getting a serious pain in your neck. So I went for the higher-heeled shoes. Shit.

Stan had been an interesting date. He’d spent the past couple of hours over dinner telling me all about his life, job and, oh yeah, his car. Don’t forget the beloved Porsche. I’d learned more about the accessories and details of his car than I’d ever wanted to. I thought he’d ask me to take my shoes off before I got in!

At least the restaurant had been nice and the steak was fantastic. I’d have to remember to thank Wilson later for the interruption. It kept me from making an excuse for an early exit from my riveting conversation with Stan.

I’m Leah Wolfe, a supernatural consultant and private detective formerly on retainer for Supernatural Investigations of Non-Human Species (SINS for short, a non-existent government agency) and the State of Arizona Public Safety Division. I’d been called in because of my abilities. My abilities go beyond psychic but I’ve learned over a lifetime that people just don’t accept things they cannot understand. Hell, I can barely understand this shit myself, how can I explain it to someone else? Not that I haven’t tried, on occasion, to share what I am with people I’ve loved and trusted, it’s just that I’ve been punished each time and have grown to feel my abilities are more of a curse than a blessing.

Captain Charles Wilson had been one of the exceptions. He understood who and what I am, with the exception of my involvement with SINS or even its existence.

He and his wife Allison took me in as a teenager. My “real” mother couldn’t accept what I was. I scared the shit out of her.

At Wilson and Alli’s insistence, I had gone to college and graduated with a degree in paranormal psychology and investigations. I’d made my way to detective with the police department; then left to pursue private practice. I had gotten tired of working within the realms of a system that protected the rights of the criminals without regard for the rights of their victims. Because of my background and abilities, I was placed on retainer with the state and had been called in on cases from various departments. That is, until I had relinquished my retainer several months ago.

“I can catch a ride home in a cruiser, Stan, it’s really not necessary for you to wait for me.”

He jumped at the sound of my voice. “No, it’s fine. I don’t mind waiting. Jessica has told me very little about your work, I’d like to tag along, if you don’t mind?”

I shrugged and started walking toward the officers surrounding the crime scene. “If you change your mind, let me know. I don’t know how long this will take.” I flashed my ID to the cops, held up the police tape, and motioned Stan through.

Jess hadn’t told him much about my work because what I do is strictly on a need-to-know basis. I certainly don’t want any of my nearest and dearest living with the nightmares that haunt me. No one should see what I see, hell, I shouldn’t see what I see but, c’est la vie, such is life.

“Hey Wolfe, nice outfit for work. I appreciate the effort but you don’t have to dress up for me.”

“In your dreams, Ramírez.”

Detective Allan Ramírez was in his mid thirties, average would be the word used to describe him. Brown hair, brown eyes, somewhere around five foot eight with a stomach a little pudgy from too much fast food and deskwork. He preferred to wear a suit and today he wore a dark grey one with black pinstripes threaded through it. His pale blue dress shirt fit snugly as if he had bought it a size too small. His shoulder holster was visible under the fabric of his jacket.

“You two here to fuck around or might you be doing some actual police work today?” Captain Wilson said by way of greeting.

“I was just commenting on her dress, or lack thereof, Captain.” Ramírez lost some of the arrogance in his voice.

Wilson looked up from his notebook for the first time and asked, “You got a gun in there somewhere?”

“Yeah.” Actually, I’d have to flash everyone to get the Baretta out of the holster at the small of my back, but I’d been on a date. I hadn’t really thought I’d have to pull a gun on him. It was the smallest handgun I owned with a 2.4-inch barrel and weighed a little under a pound. It only held eight rounds but hey, if I needed more ammo than that on a date, it was time to call it a night and go home.

Wilson gave me a single nod then walked up the small hill. I followed in my heels, keeping my weight on the balls of my feet and walking in a half-crouched position to keep from falling back down the slippery slope. The sun was fading fast behind the mountains, casting shadows at odd angles along the peaks. In cities built on flatlands or near water you can watch the sun until it fades to nothing. When you’re surrounded by mountains, darkness sort of swallows the landscape and the sun disappears behind towering peaks of land.

Wilson offered his hand when he reached the top. Normally, I wouldn’t have taken it; but then again, normally he wouldn’t have offered it. None of us wanted me to slide back down the mud. Well, maybe Ramírez, but he was an asshole.

Wilson pulled me to the top, released my hand, and stepped to the side so that I could get my first look at the victim.

That was Wilson, not much bullshit, straight to the point. He was one of the few people I would trust and have trusted with my life. He wore navy blue suit pants and a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows exposing his muscular forearms. His tie was solid blue, a couple shades lighter than the pants. Wilson was tall, six foot three and fit for a man in his mid fifties, not from hard workouts, just good genetics. He wore glasses that framed his intent and watchful eyes nicely. “The victim is just over the ridge. Tell me what you think.”

A woman lay on the ground in a small pool of crimson blood. Her arms were bound behind her back in an unnatural position while her darkened eyes stared at the evening sky seeing nothing. She looked to be in her early twenties, dark, long hair splayed around her head like a cape. Her cheekbones were high, her face carved in angles set in the permanently tanned skin of her Native American heritage. She wasn’t just pretty, she was beautiful, and even death couldn’t steal her beauty away, not instantly anyway. She was slim and dressed in a short white dress, silver and turquoise necklace with matching earrings. She wore heels, not quite as high as mine, adorned with tiny silver sequins.

There was a hole in the center of her chest big enough for both of my fists to fit into. It was hollow where her heart had once been.

I knelt beside her as Ramírez handed me a pair of blue latex gloves. I took them absently and put them on. I placed both hands, palms down, above the hole in her chest. I paused and looked up at Wilson. “Has the scene been secured? I don’t want to screw up your evidence.”

He towered over me, arms crossed over his chest. “We were waiting on you to move the body, do what you need to do.”

I traced the hole in her chest with my finger. The edges were jagged, whatever had taken her heart had done so slowly that the blade had made several straight cuts, like carving the top off a pumpkin. “This wasn’t an animal attack.”

“That’s why I called you,” Wilson said.

“Were there any other injuries?”

“No,” Ramírez added.

I placed my hand in the hole of her chest and ran my finger along the inside edge. A muffled choke behind me brought my attention back to the living. I turned in time to see Stan running for a nearby bush, heaving his dinner on the ground. I’d forgotten he was there.


I stood and walked a circle around the body. Wilson cleared his throat. “Don’t you think you should help him?” he suggested.

I let out a long sigh and glanced over at Stan, leaning heavily with his hands on his knees. What the hell could you say to someone who just saw you stick your hands in the chest of a dead woman? “Don’t mind me, all in a day’s work” just didn’t seem to cover it. I walked toward him. He stood abruptly and took a step back. I held my hands out, palms forward in a push away gesture. He fell back to his knees and heaved. I looked at my hands and realized I still hadn’t taken the now bloody gloves off. I pulled them off and let them drop to the ground. “Sorry, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I don’t usually bring anyone to a crime scene.”

He looked at me like I had horns sprouting from the top of my head. “I think I’ll let you catch a ride home with a … a co-worker after all. I’ll, call you, maybe tomorrow.” He turned and stumbled toward his car.

Sure he’d call me. When hell froze over. “Sorry.” I called out. Hell, if he couldn’t take the beginnings of an examination of a body he’d never survive a week in my life. I turned back toward Ramírez and Wilson.

“You make a hell of an impression on your dates, Wolfe.” Ramírez laughed.

“Fuck you, Ramírez.”

“Ramírez,” Wilson warned.

“She’s not a cop anymore. I don’t have to put up with her shit.”

I stood toe to toe with Ramírez. “I’m not a lot of things anymore, Ramírez, but I’m still more now than you’ll ever be.”

Wilson stepped between us. “Go do your job, Wolfe.”

I turned toward him. “Yes, sir!” I gave him a mock salute letting the full extent of my sarcasm show; then turned my attention to the job at hand. I walked a fresh circle around the corpse and waited for the victim to appear.

Did I mention that I communicate with the recently dead? I keep this little secret to myself. I’m considered a psychic; it’s the easiest explanation. The difference is that I can communicate with the souls of the recently departed. The soul tends to hang around for a while after the body dies, particularly if it was a violent death. I found her spirit huddled a few feet from her body, whimpering.

I’d be whimpering, too.

I knelt beside her, normally I’d just sit on the ground but in this dress I’d flash everyone here, things like that you just don’t live down in the department.

“I’m going to need a few minutes alone, Wilson. Then I’ll have some questions for you.”

He didn’t argue or even comment. Wilson was one of the few people in my life that knew about my little curse. The belief is that I need privacy to call my powers, which isn’t entirely a lie. I don’t actually call my powers, they are part of who I am, always there, like white noise. I can choose to acknowledge or ignore them. What I can’t do is go around telling people that I can see and talk to the souls of the dead. That is, not if I want to stay out of a straight jacket anyway.

Wilson motioned Ramírez to step back down the ridge of the hill. They could still see me, but were far enough out of earshot for me to speak with the victim, huddled on the ground near me.

“Can you hear me?” I used my softest voice so not to frighten her further. First she didn’t seem to notice me. She looked up at me, confusion marring her lovely face. Her spirit was fading fast; I didn’t have much time before she faded to nothing.

“I’m Leah Wolfe, can you hear me?”

“I can hear you.” She choked out the words, barely audible.

“Can you tell me what happened? I need to know what happened so I can help you.”

“You. Can’t. Help. Me. Now! I’m dead!” She screamed the words at me; then faded completely like the morning sun burning off the last little bits of fog. The spirit of a violent death usually hangs around for a few days. They simply don’t know that they’re gone, it’s as if the soul has yet to catch up with the body. She knew she was dead.

I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to convince a spirit that their human life was over. Some are in denial so long that the spirit won’t move on. Some are confused. I guess looking down at your own dead body could have that effect on you. Still others are just pissed off.

Either she’d been dead for a while, which I doubted because all manners of ugly things would have already started happening to her corpse, or she knew she was going to die before she did. That opened the possibility that she knew her attacker.

“You all right, Wolfe?” Wilson called up the hill, interrupting my train of thought and startling me. I fell back on my ass.

“Shit, I’m fine, shit.”

Wilson jogged back up the ridge with Ramírez on his heels. Wilson held his hand out to help me up. He was smart enough to keep the laughter off his face as I stood and wiped the mud off the back of my dress.

Ramírez wasn’t.

Stupid man.

“Hey Wolfe, if you wanted to mud wrestle, all you had to do was ask. I’d be happy to…”

In one fluid movement I dropped to a stooping position and swept my leg out. Ramírez landed fully on his back in the mud. Wilson covered his laugh with a cough as Ramírez struggled to stand.

“You’re a letch, Ramírez.” I gave him a satisfied grin as he picked himself up off the muddy ground.

“And you’re a bitch, Wolfe.” He took a step toward me, his hands clenched into fists.

“Yeah, but I’m the bitch who took you down.” I kicked off my shoes and squared my shoulders. I didn’t really think he’d take the punch, but I was damn sure going to be ready if he did.

Wilson stepped between us. “If you two can spare a minute, maybe we can get back to the dead woman.”

I glared at Ramírez and let out my breath in a long sigh. Ramírez unclenched his fists and took a step back. “This ain’t over Wolfe. That was a cheap shot.”

“It just so happens that I have an appointment open at 4:30 tomorrow, shall we continue this then?” I asked in my most innocent voice.

“I’m off duty at 3:00. Meet me at Luigi’s, loser buys the pizza.”

“You’re on.”

Taking bets at a murder scene may seem coldhearted to a civilian. For a cop, distracting yourself from the daily onslaught of horror and gore is a sanity-saving defense mechanism.

“What do we know about the victim?” I yanked at the bottom of my dress.

Wilson flipped open a small notebook that he always kept with him. “Tamara Mahu, twenty-three years old, Native American. She was last heard from at eight this morning, that puts her missing for approximately,” he glanced down at his watch, “eight or nine hours. A friend reported her missing after she didn’t show up for a lunch date and he couldn’t find her at her home.”

“Do you think this was an animal attack?” Ramírez got his head back in the game.

“You know this wasn’t animal. The cuts are too clean, jagged but not torn. Has the heart been found yet?” I stood and rubbed my hands up and down my arms. Talking to the dead always left me feeling chilled.

“We’ve searched the area, hell, even had the dogs out. The only sign of blood is in the perimeter of the body.” Wilson looked out over the vast desert as if he could somehow will the heart to appear.

“So whoever did this took the heart. It could be symbolic of love or revenge. You know, ‘you ripped my heart out so I’ll rip yours out’. Check with past and current boyfriends or lovers.”

“Were already on that, Leah.” He turned to Ramírez. “Check the progress on that, Ramírez.” Ramírez didn’t argue, he simply turned and left.

“Did you get anything on this, you know, was her, soul, spirit, whatever, there?” Wilson knew that my abilities were not psychic, that just made the whole “talking to the dead thing” easier to explain, but that didn’t make him comfortable with it.

“She was there for a couple of minutes but too hysterical to help. She should have stayed around longer.”

“What do you mean, ‘should’ have stayed around longer?”

“The soul doesn’t usually know the body is dead this quickly, especially within a couple of hours. She knew she was dead, she must have known before that she was going to die. She didn’t die here, either. Someone killed her and dumped the body here.”

Wilson continued to write in his little notebook. “Why do you think she was killed elsewhere?”

“Her shoes.”

He stopped writing and looked up at me, a furrow between his eyebrows accenting his blue eyes. “Shoes?”

“Yeah, shoes. They’re sequined heels, no mud and the sequins are still in place. The rain could have washed away enough blood to make it look like she was killed here, but the shoes wouldn’t have survived the rain in that good a condition.”

“I can’t believe I missed that.”

“Wilson?” I placed my hand on his arm to bring his full attention back to me. “Why call me in on this one? I haven’t worked a case in five months.”

I watched expressions race across Wilson’s face. He was either looking for a lie or didn’t want to tell me something he knew would piss me off. Since Wilson didn’t lie, that left only one option.

“What aren’t you telling me?” I asked warily.

He braced his shoulders and let out a long sigh. “She’s from Joaquín’s reservation.”

“Son of a bitch!” I could feel the anger crawl up my skin. “You brought me in here to play peacemaker with Joaquín. What the hell makes you think he’ll talk to me, he thinks I’m an ‘unholy witch’. I believe those were his parting words.”

Joaquín Wildhorse was Chief Detective of the Reservation Police Department. He was also my former fiancé. The first time we “worked” together I spoke to a spirit of a murdered elder, who, by the way, outed half the tribal council as plotting his death to achieve higher ranks. Joaquín looked at me like I was an alien, told me I was an unholy witch and he could take me to a tribal healer to cast my demons aside. I introduced my knee to his testicles and threw his ring at him as he lay on the ground.

I closed my eyes and concentrated on taking steady, even breaths. I had not seen or heard from him in several months and I would not shed another tear for Joaquín Wildhorse. He wasn’t the first person I’d lost to my “curse”, oh, pardon me, “gifts”. He was the end of a long line of betrayals and a large part of the reason that I’d relinquished my retainer with the department. I’d spent the last few months making an attempt at a “normal” life, whatever the hell that was.

I opened my eyes and held my face very neutral as I asked Wilson, “What makes you think he’d listen to anything I have to say?”

“He asked for you.”

My eyes flew wide, my calm, neutral expression ripped away by surprise.

Wilson put his hand on my shoulder. “This was done in broad daylight. He knows this woman. He wants you to help find her killer.”

I shook my head slowly back and forth. “Why me?”

“He told me that you’re the only one with abilities he can trust.”



Engaged to the Earl

engaged to the earl 3.indd

Engaged to the Earl: Irresistible Heroes

Romantic heroes are designed to be irresistible. The authors want you to fall in love with them, so they write the most handsome, courageous, generous heroes imaginable. But what makes some heroes stand out? If you have some ideas, please let us know in the comments below. Here are a few of mine, which I used when writing my story, Engaged to the Earl:

Princes and Billionaires

According to the book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, female readers can’t get enough of heroes who have power and prestige, such as billionaires, sheiks, and princes. However, hard-working and not very wealthy heroes such as cowboys are also perennially popular. It must be their rugged masculinity that draws readers in.

In Engaged to the Earl, I have written one character who has wealth and power, the Earl of Bradfield, as well as a more down-to-earth, manly hero, Tom Allen. I wonder which one readers will prefer?

Larger than Life

Most romance heroes tend to be large in their physical size and their… well, we won’t go there right now! But aside from that, they tend to behave very dramatically when they’re angry or up against a challenge. They will leave no stone unturned and will overcome any obstacle to protect the woman they love. These larger than life heroes are what all readers crave because we all want a hero who feels deeply and whose love is strong.

In my story, Tom will do heroic deeds to protect his beloved, while the earl is quite a drama queen (or king?), very quick to anger, but also extremely courteous and respectful of Martha when he finally comes to his senses.

Hard to Get

This doesn’t mean he plays hard to get, but he is really almost impossible to get, especially for the heroine. Think of Christian Grey from 50 Shades, who is so traumatized by his past that he is unable to have a real relationship, or the Black Corsair from Emilio Salgari’s classic novel, who has sworn vengeance upon the heroine’s father.

It seems nothing could happen to induce these attractive fellows to fall in love, and yet they do. The appeal of the “hard to get” hero is universal because we all crave the forbidden fruit.

When I was writing Engaged to the Earl, I made the title character appear completely indifferent to Martha’s charms because he sees her only as his wife in an arranged marriage, nothing more than a business partner. Martha’s liaison with Tom is even more impossible because Tom is a servant, and such a union would never be recognized by society. Despite all odds, Martha tries win the love of both of these men.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. If you’re interested in erotic historical romance, please check out Engaged to the Earl at these links:

Amazon  viewBook.at/EngagedtotheEarl

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/611976

Nook Books http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/engaged-to-the-earl-carolee-croft/1123342990?ean=2940157995256

Coffee Time Romance and More reviewed Shadowwalker (A Leah Wolfe SINS Novel Book 5)

SHADOWWALKER~ February 7, 2015
Shadowwalker is a unique paranormal story which draws the reader in and makes them a part of the adventure. Raven is a vampire like no other and willing to risk it all for the special lady in his life. I enjoyed reading Shadowwalker and recommend the story for the paranormal lover at heart. Delane Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More – See more at: http://coffeetimeromance.com/BookReviews/shadowwalkerbook5byrhondalprint….
Shadowwalker is a unique paranormal story which draws the reader in and makes them a part of the adventure. Raven is a vampire like no other and willing to risk it all for the special lady in his life. I enjoyed reading Shadowwalker and recommend the story for the paranormal lover at heart. Delane Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More – See more at: http://coffeetimeromance.com/BookReviews/shadowwalkerbook5byrhondalprint.html#.VNZl3Y39M6YLSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShop

Review for Phoenix

Melissa reviewed Phoenix (A Leah Wolfe SINS Novel Book 4)

“a fast paced suspense filled story, which proves that love can bring wonderful things” October 24, 2013
Leah Wolfe would do anything for someone she loves even if it means putting herself in danger. So when her godson is kidnapped by Phoenix, a former Marquis, her immediate reaction is to agree to trade herself for him. However, her fiancé, Ian Nightwalker, a current Marquis, knows all about Phoenix and he tries to convince Leah to wait a bit and let him find another way to get the boy back.

As a federal agent Leah Wolfe would do anything for someone she loves even if it means putting herself in danger. So when her godson is kidnapped by Phoenix, a former Marquis, her immediate reaction is to agree to trade herself for him. However, her fiancé, Ian Nightwalker, a current Marquis, knows all about Phoenix and he tries to convince Leah to wait a bit and let him find another way to get the boy back.

As a federal agent for SINS, Leah feels more than able to pull a fast one on a madman, even if he is an ancient vampire, with the help of Ian and his team. However, things go a bit south when Leah is taken and she awakes and faces the horrors that Phoenix has created while searching for a way to revenge his dead lover. Leah has every faith in Ian and his people, but for her to get out of this situation in one piece and to take Phoenix and his creations down, it will take all of her skills along with Ian’s might. Along the way, Leah and Ian are going to be given something worth fighting for besides defeating a madman who threatens civilization as we know it.

phoenixYou should never make a SINS agent with powers cranky or her vampire fiancé because your life expectancy becomes non-existent. Leah and Ian prove this exact thing in Phoenix. No one, least of all me, should have been surprised when Leah instantly agreed to put herself into harm to save her godson. I have always loved her protectiveness of those that she loves; it’s such an intricate part of her. Nor was I surprised when Ian wanted to find another way to get the job done to try and keep Leah safe. I loved getting more of a glimpse of the intense love between Leah and Ian and was very happy when a huge surprise was revealed at the end of the book. I also enjoyed how twists that I originally thought were red herrings were revealed as part of Phoenix’s plot. Phoenix is a fast paced suspense filled story, which proves that love can bring wonderful things and cause horrible things depending on how fate turns.

This book was reviewed by Jo for Joyfully Reviewed (JR), and was provided by the publisher/author at no cost to JR for the purpose of being reviewed.

Review for Justified

Georgianna Hinton reviewed Justified (A Leah Wolfe SINS Novel Book 3)
get the series.
The book was awesome. I can’t wait for her next book to come out. She keeps you in suspense. Buy it now if you like being at the edge of your seat.

Review for The Order of Chaos

The Order of Chaos

By JeanP- Amazon
I really enjoyed this story and these characters. Started it and couldn’t put it down. Look forward to reading more of these stories and find out more about what happens with the dynamics of these characters and their interactions.