Retribution Release and Pre-Order


Writing your first novel is…hard. Publishing your first novel, whether you decide to go the traditional or self-publishing route, is hard. But do you know what’s at least equally as hard, if not harder?

Writing the next book. And the next. And the next.

I forget who this quote is ascribed to, but I’ve heard it said you never learn how to write a book – you only learn how to write this book. I’ve been thinking about that quote lately, and how true it is. I published the first edition of Reborn back in November of 2013. That’s…eight years ago, lol. It started out as a pretty simple idea: a story about a college-aged woman who runs into a man from her past. A tall, dark, handsome, broody man who is probably not human. And who is either her long-lost love or sworn enemy. Or a little bit of both.

I wondered who these two characters were. I wanted to root around their brains, find out what drove them, what scared them, what – and who – they wanted more than anything.

Then, quite suddenly, I didn’t have just Siobhan and Jasper anymore, these two fascinating but deeply flawed people. I had a whole world in my head I wanted to explore, a world where Greek mythology met Greek life but was also equal parts 90s syndicated sci-fi show and teen drama. If you would have asked me to describe Reborn when it first came out, I might have told you it was like Stargate SG-1 meets Greek (you know, the ABC Family – now Freeform – show from the late 2000s?). Which is honestly kind of accurate, but also who the heck would want to read that (besides me)?

If you’re new to the Reborn series, it’s essentially a modern retelling of the Eros and Psyche myth. My Psyche is Siobhan Elliot, a college student at the fictional Thurston University in Shadesburg (a Pittsburgh-esque city). My Eros is Jasper Hart, her hot teaching assistant for her World Myths and Legends class. The first two books in the series, Reborn and Relapse, mostly focus on their complicated, at times downright toxic, relationship, as well as Siobhan’s efforts to navigate this new world she finds herself in.

Pretty quickly, my ideas for the series expanded beyond Siobhan and Jasper’s story. It spawned two novellas and the third installment, Reclaim, which focused on a different main character: Siobhan’s sorority sister, Carly Dragonjac. While Siobhan’s interests began to clash a lot with her sorority’s, I think of Carly as the Gamma Lambda Phi sister who stayed. As Carly doesn’t have much of a family left, the sorority didn’t just become her home-away-from-home, but her home, period. And her storyline let me indulge one of my other favorite archetypes, the wicked (and sexy) trickster god. The fourth book, Retribution, picks up where both Siobhan and Carly’s stories left off and gives them a (mostly) happy resolution.

Oh, right. Did I mention I have a book coming out?

Going back to that quote at the beginning of the post, it took me four years (Reclaim was published in 2017) to learn how to write Retribution. Not that I was writing it that entire time. I was not. I did put out a novella in 2019, but mostly the ideas for the fourth book were marinating. And, sure, then there was a global pandemic in which I was like…okay, I’m at home way more than usual, there is literally no excuse now not to finish this book…

Although the major ideas and revelations in the book never changed, I think it would have been a much different book if I had forced myself to write it four years ago. It was always going to be about how Siobhan and Jasper both heal from their past traumas, how they finally find their way back to an authentic, healthy version of their relationship. But I was also thinking about several larger themes while I was writing it. For one: What would happen if our world was infiltrated by an alien civilization? (Slight spoiler alert: probably nothing good.)

And, in this era of movements like #MeToo, where we’re starting, as a society, to confront egregious abuses of power and privilege, I was thinking a lot about what we’re “allowed” or expected to feel as women. So, power is definitely one of the major themes in Retribution – confronting power imbalances, confronting those who abuse their power and, most importantly, reclaiming that power.

Now, there are definitely many light-hearted, fun, silly, sexy, and romantic moments in Retribution. But it does get rather dark at times. Rest assured, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, I let my female characters experience the whole gamut of emotions: happiness, love, desire, fear, desperation, despair, regret, hate, resentment. Each main character has an inner darkness to confront. One learns to accept and live with it. One rises above it. One embraces it.

You can pre-order Retribution for Kindle on Amazon! It releases July 1, 2021. While you’re at it, add it on Goodreads. I am planning to give out a few review copies (.mobi or pdf only), so email me at slstacyauthor@gmail.com if you’re interested. Heidi’s gorgeous cover art and the book summary are below!

*****

Siobhan has returned from a seven-month stint in Pandora to a world that’s falling apart. Literally.

She doesn’t care, though, about the holes in the walls between the worlds. Or that, according to a prophecy, she’s the only one who can stop Eric and his halfling army from taking over Olympus. All Siobhan wants now is to get back to some semblance of normalcy in life, and in her relationship with Jasper.

Meanwhile, combat training is Carly’s new normal. But while Gamma Lambda Phi prepares for certain war, she grapples with missing memories and a forgotten power. And just when a possibility for new love presents itself, an old flame is rekindled.

Electra is the new general of Eric’s army, but it’s a tenuous command. She is caught between love and fear, sanity and madness, a desire for absolution and a thirst for vengeance…

In the game of the gods, anything goes, and nothing is what it seems. And in this conclusion to the Reborn saga, these three women will learn just how far they’re willing to go to win.

Retro Book Review: Tithe


Happy Wednesday! As I announced last week, I thought writing some “retro” book reviews would be a fun summer goal for keeping the blog going. Last week, I did a re-read of Dark Visions by L.J. Smith (review here). This week, I’m reviewing Tithe by one of my new favorites, Holly Black.

Tithe is the first book in Black’s Modern Faerie Tales trilogy, originally published back in 2002 (which is very nearly 20 years ago? oh my…). Recently, the Modern Faerie Tales have been reissued with some gorgeous new covers. I would have been in middle school when Tithe first came out, but for whatever reason, Holly Black was not on my radar back then. The first book of hers I read was The Cruel Prince, and after that, I was hooked on her beautiful, brutal faery world and its characters.

Tithe is also excellent, although not for the faint of heart, I suppose. It’s a fairly dark, gritty urban fantasy, and, although it is a YA series, the Modern Faerie Tales deal with some pretty heavy issues. Black’s spin on the world of the fae is equal parts beautiful and cruel, pleasurable and painful. Its teen MCs are imperfect, its parents range from being selfish to downright neglectful, and no one is safe from the capricious, deadly fae.

At the beginning of Tithe, Kaye Fierch is on the road with her mother, a musician who survives paycheck to paycheck, and gig to gig. But a nearly fatal clash with one of her mother’s bandmates sends them packing for Kaye’s grandmother’s house in New Jersey. Kaye hasn’t been to school in years and, despite her grandmother’s insistence, isn’t about to go back now. She smokes, stays out too late, and is generally a bit aimless. In New Jersey, she reconnects with an old friend, Janet, and Janet’s loner brother, Cornelius (Corny) Stone.

Their New Jersey is one of abandoned warehouses, dark alleyways, and underground raves. But it’s also a world many of the solitary fae – faeries who have been exiled from the Seelie or Unseelie courts – call home. Kaye remembers some imaginary friends she made as a kid. In Tithe, those once imaginary friends turn out to be all too real and know the truth about who Kaye really is. Kaye’s journey is one of self-discovery, of survival as the human and fae worlds collide. And of new love in the form of white-haired Roiben, a Seelie knight who has been traded to serve the Unseelie queen as a show of peace between the two courts.

I am giving Tithe five stars. I love to read (and write) imperfect characters, and Kaye certainly fits the bill. I think some readers, and some perhaps concerned with what teens are reading, balk a bit when the character isn’t some sort of role model. But I don’t believe all characters, even those in YA books, are obligated to be role models. In fact, there are likely many teens out there who may relate to Kaye, a girl from a poor family, with a somewhat neglectful parent and a poor track record at school. Those teens have stories, too. And those teens need to see characters like Kaye who are overcoming odds and discovering their own strengths.

Also, Roiben sounds hot. So there’s that.

If you’re a fan of the fae, urban fantasy, and don’t mind it with a large helping of romantic horror, I recommend Tithe! In the coming weeks, I will also be reviewing the second two books, Valiant and Ironside. I am officially hooked on Holly Black!

Retro Book Review: Dark Visions


Context: I’ve decided to write some “retro” book reviews this summer. I’m defining retro as any book originally published more than 15 years ago. For all you L.J. Smith fans who may or may not be out there, today I’m reviewing a classic: Dark Visions.

I was originally introduced to L.J. Smith in middle school, when my friend handed me The Forbidden Game and said, “I think you’ll like this. Julian is hot.” LOL. Every few years, the nostalgia hits me, and I re-read TFG or Dark Visions, mostly because they’re my favorites, but also because I own them.

I’m not saying Dark Visions is perfect or anything. It was an older book even when I read it for the first time (it’s nearly as old as me). Although I do like L.J. Smith’s writing style, I can’t lie that the characters in Dark Visions sound like something out of a 1950s movie. Honestly, some of it has not aged well. But it’s still one of my favorite comfort reads.

Dark Visions is a trilogy (the three books are often found together now in an omnibus edition) following Kaitlyn Fairchild, a teen artist whose drawings are often prophetic. Because of her spooky powers, she feels out of place in her small town and is sort of viewed as the town “witch.” Then, destiny comes knocking when she’s recruited to an institute for psychics in San Francisco, where she joins four other teen psychics (Rob, Gabriel, Anna, and Lewis) to learn to hone her abilities. It becomes quickly apparent, though, that nothing is as it initially seems at the institute, and its enigmatic leader, Mr. Zetes, has recruited them for more nefarious purposes.

The first book in the trilogy focuses on Kait’s time at the institute and getting to know the other psychics. For the first time, she feels like she has real friends, and even falls in love for the first time, with psychic healer Rob. Unfortunately, she – and basically everybody, lol – butts heads with Gabriel, the bad boy of the bunch who may or may not have murdered someone.

Okay, maybe I just like these books because of Gabriel? L.J. Smith has always done misunderstood, broody antihero very well. Her books also tend to feature a central love triangle, between the main heroine, a well-liked golden boy (who is not without his own flaws), and a Broody McBroodypants. In Dark Visions, we of course have the Rob-Kait-Gabriel love triangle, with both guys appealing to different sides of Kait. I had sort of forgotten this until I re-read it (and this may be a bit of a spoiler, but these books are 30-years-old…), but it does come with the lesson that your first love won’t necessarily be your last, or only, love – and that you can love people in different ways. Which, duh…but still, I think it’s a nice lesson to impart, especially for teen readers. When you’re young, breaking up with someone can feel like the end of the world, but it’s definitely not. I promise you, you will love again, lol.

Part of the reason that Dark Visions (and L.J. Smith’s other books) might be so memorable/important to me, is because – back at the time I first read them – YA was not nearly the behemoth genre it is now. The YA section of our local library was several shelves against a wall crammed with delightfully pulp-y paperbacks. It was right before YA started to get really big in the mid- to late-2000s. Back then, I also read a lot of V.C. Andrews, which probably could be considered YA by today’s standards (perhaps except for all the, uh, incest…), it just wasn’t marketed as such at the time. I think it’s great there are so many options and subgenres of YA now. So many choices for teens! And for older millennials like me who read/write YA. Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, but I think much of the reason L.J. Smith’s books will always hold a special place in my heart.

I just got some of Holly Black’s older books from the library (curbside pickup has been my best friend during the pandemic), so I think doing these types of retro reviews will be one of my summer projects. For now, happy Friday eve – and happy reading!

Sale: Reborn Series Box Set


The Reborn Series Box Set (containing the first three books and two novellas) is on sale for Kindle! Grab yours here before it goes back to its regular price on Wednesday. Get caught up before the conclusion to the series, Retribution, hits this summer! 😉

******

Siobhan Elliot’s World Myths and Legends class was supposed to be an easy way to get elective credit. Instead, she gets an unexpected—and unwanted—blast from the past in the form of the course’s handsome teaching assistant, Jasper Hart. He puts the cliché tall, dark and handsome to shame, but that’s the least of Siobhan’s worries. Because she’s met him before.

And he’s definitely not human.

Back then, their brief encounter left her with a unique but uncontrollable power, forever altering her young adult life. Now, the only person who can tell her the truth about who—and what—she really is doesn’t seem to remember her.

Even so, Jasper’s return opens a whole new world to Siobhan, one straight from the pages of her World Myths and Legends textbook. Her already bizarre life is about to be turned upside down, and nothing—not even her sorority, Gamma Lambda Phi—is left untouched. A world where Greek mythology meets Greek life, legendary lovers reunite, and nothing is what it seems.

And that’s just the beginning. This Reborn Series box set features the first three books in the series (REBORN, RELAPSE, and RECLAIM) and two bonus novellas (REVENGE and RECTIFY).

Interview with Author H.N. Sieverding


Happy Friday Eve! Today I’m really excited to have one of my author friends, and all-around cool lady, H.N. Sieverding back on my blog! I interviewed her some years back, around when I first started this blog, so we’re long overdue to check in with her. In addition to being a bestselling author of vampire and sports fiction novels, Ms. Sieverding is a fabulous graphic designer (she’s made all the book covers for the Reborn series!). She was also one of the first author friends I met via WordPress, and I’m so glad we’ve been able to keep in touch over the years.

Check out my interview with her below, followed by an excerpt from her sports romance novel, Verona Wolves.

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Author Bio: H.N. Sieverding is an author and graphic artist. Several of her novels have hit bestsellers’ lists, including the Christian’s Kisses, Nightwalkers, and Check Mate series. She’s known for her vampire and sports fiction novels, but writes in many genres, from horror and fantasy to sports fiction and suspense.

Outside of writing, she designs book cover art and promotional material for authors and publishers. Several of her cover designs have won cover art competitions for literary magazines.

Coffee or tea? – Coffee. I think I drink more coffee than I eat some days. I started drinking it to replace pop years ago. I don’t drink soda anymore, but coffee became a worse addiction. Less sugar, but…lol.

Favorite place to visit or go on vacation? – It’d be a tie between the smoky mountains, or bumming on the beach. I love the ocean.   

How long have you been writing? – If you mean “novels”, I wrote my first novel when I was about sixteenish, and wrote short stories when I was a kid. I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. Though, after watching She-Devil as a little girl and thinking authors were rich, I thought writing would pay way more than it does.

Tell me about your current WIP. – I’m working on two. I’m editing Vulcan’s Nightmare (a paranormal/horror) and writing Astoria Foxes (a sports fiction/romance).

Since I chose an excerpt from Verona Wolves, I’ll introduce its sequel, Astoria Foxes

It follows the life of a professional hockey player, Firebird Callahan, and his move to a different country when he signs for a foreign team. Not wanting to leap on his own, Firebird marries his girlfriend on a whim and promises to become the perfect father to both her teenage brother and the couple’s new baby. Firebird struggles with the role of Dad, and at nineteen and still a kid himself, Firebird’s in way over his head.

Worse yet, he clashes with his new team’s alpha, Kai Tremblay, and the pair can’t find common ground. Firebird’s perfect life seems like it’s falling apart, and as he drowns in his mistakes, and all he worked for seems to slip away, Firebird fears he’ll lose more than his career if he doesn’t get back on his feet.

What’s the hardest part of writing a book? – Editing. Writing the first draft is like coasting down a hill. You can see the end, and it’s a fast ride. Editing feels more like climbing a mountain on a cloudy day. You can’t see the peak, the pace is slower, and it requires more work. You get tired as you go, and sometimes you feel like you’ll never get there, but if you keep trekking, you’ll get to the top. Once you’re there, the view is worth all the hard work. 😉

Tell me about your latest/upcoming book release. When will it be published, and where can we buy it? – My last book released last fall, and you can buy it on Amazon. It’s a sports fiction/sport’s romance called Verona Wolves and is part of the Firebird Series. I’m writing the sequel to it now, Astoria Foxes. It’s a comedy, so it’s lighter than the darker themed novels I’ve written. It’s fun to switch up genres.

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And now, an excerpt from Verona Wolves! (Sport’s Romance/Sport’s Fiction)

Book Description: When an accident takes the lives of her mother and step-father, Sophie moves to Verona to care for her brother, Christopher. Sophie struggles to connect with him, but can’t find common ground. Obsessed with anything hockey, its Christopher’s greatest passion and the one thing that will help her get closer to him. She finds an ally in Firebird Callahan, the loud-mouthed center for the Verona Wolves. Not only does Callahan school her on hockey, he gives her the cringe-worthy nickname, Mistletoe.

Get Verona Wolves on Amazon.

In this scene, Sophie meets Hunter after going to the wrong rink. She doesn’t realize he’s her brother’s favorite player on the Wolves, Firebird Callahan. To mess with her, he chooses not to tell her. 

– H.N.

Location: Wolves Ice Arena: Verona, Palisades

Five minutes later, Sophie arrived at the ice arena. Christopher told her to park in the lot, but she only found a parking garage. It said ARENA PARKING, so it should be fine. She paid the fee to park there.

Late, she scurried to the first door she saw. It didn’t have a sign posted near it, but women came out of it, so she assumed it was an entrance. It should take her where she needed to go. A lady on her way out held the door for Sophie, and Sophie thanked her with a smile. 

Sophie moved here in August and never stepped foot in the arena before. She took Christopher to buy hockey gear yesterday, and he left his stick in her car. Now, he had hockey practice and didn’t have what he required. She wanted his hockey season to be perfect, but it was already bumpy. 

She and her sister still scrambled to get the hang of this parenting thing, and Christopher didn’t give them any breaks. But given what happened to him in the last few weeks, he should be moody, so she let it slide.

When Sophie opened the door to the main arena, she peeked inside. They dimmed the lights, and a Zamboni made runs over the ice. Massive, the stands held thousands, and they covered the walls with screens and advertisements. 

Sighing, she realized this wasn’t the place. This was the arena for the Verona Wolves, a team part of World League Hockey. The league had teams all over the globe competing for the coveted Webley Cup. This was hockey royalty, and it showed. 

Annoyed with herself, she backtracked. There must be a hallway leading to the public rink. The ramp’s directions led her here and there wasn’t another rink on the street, so it was close. 

Frustrated and fretting about not getting to Christopher in time, she trotted through the halls searching for it. Weighted down, she toted a bag with her tablet and work materials in it, a zip-up hoodie over her arm, and Christopher’s hockey stick.

She wore Christopher’s Pup’s T-shirt, but it was tighter than she predicted, and her amble breasts stretched the logo. The long necklaces and bangles she wore didn’t match her casual shirt, and either did her black jeggings and tall boots.

When she fled the house, she took off her blouse and forced the tee over her tank. It was a splendid idea to cheer him on, but now she wished she didn’t do it. She looked silly.

Her phone sounded off with a text. Sophie tucked the stick under her arm to read the note from her boss. Distracted, her attention glued to her cell as she typed and walked to her destination. After banging into the wall a few times, she paused near an intersection to complete it.

Annoyed, Sophie tried to finish fast and concentrate on finding Christopher. She didn’t have time for this, and it showed in her stiff jaw and thinned lips.

A man dashed around the corner and knocked into her. The impact slammed her into the concrete wall. Shrieking when she landed on her brother’s stick, Sophie’s back burned. She gritted her teeth as she hissed, pain running down her spine. She dropped the stick and it fell to the floor.

The man startled and ripped off his headphones. He held a phone, and it appeared to be an accident. “Fuck, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.” Apologetic, he spoke with a quick tongue. He slung a duffle bag over his shoulder and wore a tight black long-sleeved shirt and loose track pants. “You all right?” He shoved his earphones and cell into his sack.

“What are you composed of? Concrete?” Sophie pressed her lips together, her jaw rigid as she groaned and rubbed her back. She spoke under her breath in Italian, “Hard as rock.” As she readjusted the strap on her bag over her shoulder, she checked the floor for the stick.

“Shit, I’m told.” He smoothed his wet reddish-blond hair as he sought to make a joke. When she went for the stick, he swept it up before she did.

“Must be coprolite, because it really hurt,” she replied in a whiney tone as she ripped the hockey stick from him with a swift hand.

“Corpro what?” Still in a stupor, he gawked at her with a vacant expression.

She spoke with a quick tongue. “You know—fossilized feces—like rock.” She shifted her focus to the stick as she examined it for damage.

As he licked his lips, he ran both hands through his wet hair. Her eyes ticked to his and back to her task. Sophie gasped as she took note of the split wood. 

“Damn it,” she uttered in Italian. She stomped her foot as she ran her hand over the fracture, her pout growing. “I snapped it. Christopher will be so mad at me. I just bought this stupid thing yesterday, too.” She grumbled as she banged the butt of the stick on the tile and scanned the surrounding signs.

 “Lemme see.” In a lightning-quick action, he stole the stick and surveyed the damage.

She took a step closer and fawned over the stick’s injury. “It’s bad, isn’t it?” she whispered in a babyish voice.

She inhaled the cologne mixed with a spicy body wash radiating off him. The fresh scent ignited butterflies in her belly, but now was not the time to flirt, so she gulped and drove back the interest.

Because of this seductive-smelling man of steel, Christopher would have to sit out on his first practice, and he would be livid with her.

His eyes narrowed as he checked out the stick from various angles. “Ouch—sorry. You must’ve hit it just right. Happens with those cheaper brands.” 

“Cheap my ass,” she breathed. She crammed her cell in her back-jean pocket and was furious with herself. Stretchy, her jeans hugged her body and revealed the outline of her phone. “They are not.”

“Who’s Christopher?” His baby blues gave her a quick once over. His eyes paused on the logo on her T-shirt, then moved to her eyes. “Your boyfriend?” His question was sarcastic, but she couldn’t tell if it was a joke or he hit on her.

“My brother,” she corrected. She shied from the dapper man’s eyes. On closer scrutiny, she noted his roots were flaming red, and he added blond highlights to tone it down.

She wasn’t fond of redheads, nor did she date guys younger than her. He looked about twenty, so she guessed he could be younger. Though he was attractive, their age difference made her back off. His flirting wouldn’t get to her.

“He plays junior hockey.” She seized the stick and studied the damage further. As she ran a finger over the crack, she avoided his eyes.

“Junior hockey?” Confused, his eyes narrowed, but his manner was cordial. “The Wolves are a world league team.” He shifted a three-foot duffle bag on his shoulder. Black, it bore a prominent sports brand emblem on the side. It was like the hockey bag Christopher threw his gear in for practice. lea

“No, like kids’ hockey.” She was unsure of her answer and fumbled with her words. Flustered, she couldn’t think.

“Kids? Like pee wee? Bantam?”

“What’s that?” She met his eyes and though he found the exchange humorous, she didn’t. He had a cheerful smile, his teeth an unnatural white like he bleached them. His top row was perfect and straight, and she guessed they were false. If he played hockey, it wouldn’t surprise her.

“Kids’ hockey.” He slicked back his hair with both hands, but it tumbled down again and fell into his face.

After discharging a huff, she bounced the stick on the ground to ease her nervousness. “Christopher plays for the Pups. He’s a freshman in high school.”

Oh, he’s a Midget, eh?” He motioned toward her shirt.

“Huh?”

Midget,” he spoke in a deeper tone as he sought not to snicker. “That’s what they call kids his age.” He drifted closer and picked at the yellow tape woven around the rounded end of the stick. Christopher taped it yesterday on the car ride home, and this guy peeled it up with ease. It must not be stuck tight.

“Really?” She laughed off her ignorance.

He gave a slow nod as his attention ticked to the logo on her breast. His eyes lingered and he fisted the toe of the stick. “Now you know.” In play, he rattled the stick until she met his gaze.

She still fisted the shaft and kept the stick steady. “Sorry, I’m not familiar with hockey ranks.”

 “Apparently,” he quipped as he withdrew his hand to tuck hair behind his ear. “And I was just fucking with you.” He snickered and danced on his feet as he waved the discussion away with his hand. “I know who the Pups are.”

“And I don’t mean to be grumpy, it’s just—” Her phone beeped, and Sophie pulled it out of her pocket to view the message.

[Christopher] Did you bring my stick?

She huffed and palmed her forehead. Sophie pleaded with him, “You know hockey stuff. Can you help me? Is this fixable for the night?” She tapped the end of the stick on the tile and gestured to the damage. She joked as she shot him a stressed smile. “Like, with tape? Don’t you guys use it to fix everything?” 

“Tape doesn’t fix everything.” He threw her a mischievous smile and held in a chuckle. A genuine redhead with light skin, there was a troupe of freckles dancing over his nose and dotting his thick neck.

She pushed her lips together and studied the stick, her attention fixated on the break. “Darn,” she grunted. “I thought maybe it could be a temporary fix.”

He plucked at the tape on the curved end of the stick again and brushed against her side. The flirt caused her to meet his eyes. Dry, the skin on his fists bore a few splits. “But, hey, since it was my fault, I’ll get you one he can use. I’d hate to see the kid have to sit out on a game because he doesn’t have one.” 

“Thanks.” Her tone brightened with his offer. “And it’s practice, silly. They don’t start games until October.” She giggled as she took in his expression. “As a hockey guy, you should know.”

“’Ya got me there.” He shrugged and showed his palms. “Practice, then. How old did you say he is?”

“Fourteen—almost fifteen. His birthday is at the end of this month. The twentieth.” Shivering, she bounced the stick in a nervous action. They cranked the air conditioner here because of the ice, and there was a drastic temperature difference inside versus outside. She set her bag down and plunged her arms in the zip-up hoodie she carried. The emblem of Azure Magazine was on the front.

As she picked up her bag and hoisted it over her shoulder, she met his eyes. His eyelashes were a light brown, and his eyes an alluring ice blue. He trapped her in his gaze, and she averted her eyes.

“And thanks so much. You made a terrible day better.” She removed her hair from under the collar of her sweater. Her complexion was darker than his and her eyes a light greenish-blue. 

“Glad to help…” He gestured for her to fill in her name with his hand.

“Sophie.” With a sunny smile, she held out her hand in greeting. She repeated, “Sophie Moretti.” She introduced herself in the same generic tone she used with clients. 

“Hunter.” He shook her hand, his grip tight, and his hands rough and calloused. He peeked at her fingers, rings covering most of them. She loved jewelry, and it showed.

“Nice to run into you, Hunter.” Her cheeks reddened as they shared a laugh.

“How long’s he played?” Hunter motioned for her to go with him, and Sophie hopped to his side. The halls were silent, and their words echoed in the vacant hall.

“Since he was four. He’s my half-brother, so we didn’t grow up together. He’d call me when he won games and sent me videos and pictures, but I’ve never seen him play in person. So, I’m excited to get the opportunity to now.”

“Where you from?”

“The Marion Hills.”

“I can believe that,” he snickered and watched the tile at his feet as they strolled.

She ignored his remark. “But maybe I’m too involved. Like, he gets annoyed with me because he says I drill him about hockey like I’m interviewing him. Like I’m weird.”

She palmed her chest as she spoke, her words casual. “I don’t mean to. I just want to learn about it, you know.” She pouted her lips as she fidgeted with her necklaces. Her worry showed in her hurried words. “So, when I’m watching him play, I know what’s going on. I don’t want to say the wrong thing around his friends and embarrass him. He’s sensitive about stuff. I like to enter the scene researched and prepared.” 

He opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off. 

“Oh, my gosh!” She covered her mouth and gasped as she talked over him. “Do you think I’m trying too hard? I don’t want to make him feel that way or smother him.”

He tried to speak again, but she continued.

“I am, aren’t I?” She pouted, a babyishness in her voice. “And I wore his shirt and I look so stupid.” She dropped her hand and groaned. “I’m such an awful sister.” 

“Naw.” He faced forward, his gaze bouncing over the banners in the hall. “It should thrill him you’re researching.”

“Maybe,” she whispered. As she adjusted the belt on her shoulder, her gaze bounced around the corridor. “So, do you play hockey? You look like an athlete. I mean—” She gestured to him, her eyes narrowing on his tight shirt defining his muscles. Before she grew flustered, she adverted her eyes to crush the wicked thoughts he kindled. “Like, you—” 

“Work out?” He caught onto her fumble and threw her a mischievous grin. 

“Yeah.” She refocused and swung the stick as she walked. She skimmed the wall lined with endorsements for the Wolves. “This complex is so huge, there’s like a million teams playing here.”

“Just so you know,” he gave his answer with a chuckle. “All the city stuff is at the rink across the street.” He pointed to his right. “This is the Wolves arena, so technically, you’re not supposed to be in here. I don’t even know how you got in here without a key.”

Seriously?” She halted as her jaw dropped. Wiping away her worry, she scowled and stiffened her lip. She resumed walking and mumbled, “Well, that explains why I can’t find the way to the public rink.” She spun to face him, irritation in her voice. “The signs on the ramp make it look like it connects all the rinks. They need to fix that.” She pointed the stick at him. “So, technically, it’s the sign maker’s fault I’m lost.”

“Don’t worry about it. It happens a lot,” he whispered as he peeked behind them and back at her.

 “Do you play for the Wolves?” Her lips filled with a grand smile flushing her cheeks. “My brother loves you guys.”

“Yeah.” Annoyance replaced his upbeat mood. She wasn’t sure why, but she overlooked it.

She signaled to him with her stick. “And this may sound a little silly but—” She shot him a smile, her eyes meeting with his. “—maybe you can autograph something for me? Christopher would be so thrilled. He’d forgive me for the whole ‘forgetting his stick’ thing.”

“Sure. I’ll get you something before we leave.” He nodded. “So, who’s your favorite player on the Wolves?” Hunter fished, his grin devious. From his expression, he wanted her to choose him. If she knew his last name, she would say it.

You, right now. So, what’s your name and number? I know players from that.” She giggled, but it was soft as she hopped ahead a few strides. Sophie palmed his shoulder and squeezed his hard bicep in play. 

He fired off a caustic remark. “Don’t I have to sleep with you before I give that out?” 

“Stop,” she quipped as she waved the stick as she walked. “That was a serious question.” Her sweetened tone showed he didn’t offend her. “Since I can’t choose you, I’ll go with Christopher’s favorite, Callahan. They call him Phoenix.” 

 “Firebird,” he corrected. His cheeks flushed as he shied from her. 

“I guess he’s amazing.” Her gaze ticked to a hanging banner of Callahan in full gear. Taken at a game, it was a shot of Callahan chasing a puck, his teammates near him. Though a helmet covered his face, she noted “24” on his sleeve. Christopher claimed Callahan was the VIP, though she didn’t know if that was true. Callahan was Christopher’s favorite, so it might just be his opinion. His dad liked Bellows, and she discovered a few jerseys in her mother’s bedroom.

“Christopher makes this dumb joke about him.” Her eyes ticked to the ceiling. The lights installed in it were sharp, but it was white light and not harsh yellow. “Stick with twenty-four. He always scores.” She scrunched her nose and grinned. “It’s so cheesy. He says it whenever I tell him I like his shirt.”

“I bet he could score in your five-hole.” He snickered and stared at his white sneakers as they strode. The remark amused him, and his cheeks flushed red. 

“Knock it off.” She punched his arm and sought to contain her laugh. 

“Seriously, though.” He shook her shoulder in play and revved for another dirty joke.

“You think I’m hot as fuck—” He fisted the fabric of his shirt near his chest and shook it. “—but I’m only the warm-up. ‘Ol Firebird’s the game, baby. Fucker brings more pussy to the ice than a bowl of tuna.”

“I never said either of you were hot, Bello,” she chirped as she faced ahead, and strolled at his side. “I said he’s Christopher’s favorite, and he has like ten shirts with his name on it. I think he plays middle and—”

“Forward,” he corrected her as he wet his lips with his tongue and rubbed his red stubble. “Everyone likes those guys.” He dodged her gaze and peered into an open door they passed. They were now in a section closed to the public, and he appeared uneasy to be here with her.

She sought to blow off the worry. “See?” she cooed as she patted his bicep. “I told you I don’t know much.”

He released a muffled chuckle from his nostrils and ran his hand up and down the strap of his bag. “Apparently.”

“Yeah, maybe I need to research him more to impress Christopher. Or you can teach me about your position.”

“Sure, then I’ll give you a ride on my zam-boner.” 

“Knock-it-off,” she said between laughs. She punched him in the chest, her face sore from laughing. “You’re horrible.” 

As he walked backward, he got in her face. He jabbed at the logo on her sweater. “Why? Gonna give me five minutes in your penalty box for misconduct, Sophie?” 

She filled the gap between them and tapped his nose. “It’ll take more than that to get in there.”

“I could check you from behind. Smash you to the boards. Make you go down.” Returning the advance, he scrunched his nostrils as he tickled her sides. “Huh, Sophie?” He was rough, his play making her drop the stick and her knees buckle. “Maybe you’ll give me a few extra minutes for high sticking?”

Giggles escaped her lips and echoed in the corridor. He held her hips, so she didn’t slip to her knees. He kept up the banter. “Let me beat on that box like I lost the winning shot with ten seconds in the game. Angry like a frenzied gorilla.”

Her eyes watered with her laughter. After a few seconds, she swatted him away and took a step backward. “Seriously, knock it off.” She plucked a strand of hair sticking to her lip. Smitten, he got to her. By his cocky smirk, he knew it.

She drew a deep breath and sought to calm her voice. “Okay, stop. I’m trying to be a good sister and get my brother his gear and you’re distracting me.” She paused when her phone beeped. She plucked it out of her back pocket and read the note aloud. “Coach had an extra woody. You owe me ice cream for being late and making me ride with Camilla.” She glanced at Hunter. “What’s a woody?”

“Stick.” He tapped the top of the stick as he retrieved it from the floor. He stopped next to her and read her new message from her brother. 

[Christopher] Next time YOU take me. Tell Camilla NOT to come to practice.

“Nice kid,” Hunter noted.

“He’s just grumpy.” She wrote a note back.

[Sophie] Sorry!

“Little pucktard.” Hunter chuckled.

“He’s not. He’s fourteen and mad at the world.” She grimaced as she opened her social media account. “My mother and stepfather died in a car accident along with three of his siblings two months ago. That’s why I moved here—to take care of him.”

Dumbfounded, he regarded her with a blank expression. “That’s horrible. I’m sorry to hear about that, Sophie.”

“Thanks.” Her voice dipped, and the loss was still raw. “Maybe you read about it. The Rosewoods? It happened out near the turn on Burden. Semi hit them coming off the ramp. Christopher was at a friend’s that night, so he wasn’t with them.”

“Actually,” he said with a drawn-out tone, “I think I remember that.”

“Well, that’s our story.” She opened Christopher’s social media profile and handed her cell to Hunter. “This is my brother.”

March 2021 Newsletter


I’ve just sent out my March 2021 author newsletter. You can access it here! It includes ten fun facts about the upcoming fourth book in the Reborn series, Retribution, as well as a synopsis!

As always, I’m a bit commitment-phobic when it comes to setting an actual release date. But, I’m very close to finishing this round of edits before I have a few trusted folks read it. I’m aiming for summer, but if I can get it out earlier, I will! Happy Saturday, and as always, happy reading!

Rectify is Live!


Rectify, a new novella in the Reborn series, is now live!

Find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and more!

Add it on Goodreads.

Synopsis:

Love ’em and leave ’em. That’s always been Apate’s motto. The Olympian goddess of trickery doesn’t have time for entanglements, romantic or otherwise. And she sure as hell doesn’t have time for regret.

But when Thurston University student Siobhan Elliot goes missing and the human cops start sniffing around, Apate’s dubious past catches up with her. Now it’s only a matter of time until Jimmy, her latest conquest—who also happens to be Siobhan’s ex—finds out it’s her fault. To cover her tracks, Apate pays a visit to the Elliots, using her powers of illusion to pose as their daughter and convince them everything’s fine. Lying is easy. Confronting the consequences of her actions, however, will prove to be much harder than Apate expected.

To find her redemption, Apate knows it’s time to come clean. But the truth could cost her the only love she’s ever known.

‘Tis the Season…October Freebies


In the…spirit of Halloween, I’m running two promotions on Amazon over the next two weeks.

Today and tomorrow (October 18-19), my novella Revenge is free for all Kindle users. One of its reviewers said it has a Halloween-ish vibe, so it’s a perfect quick read for this time of the year. You can download it here. And, although it takes place in the Reborn world, it can be read as a stand-alone.

Then next week, Reclaim (Reborn #3) is free for Kindle from October 24-25, down from its regular price of $2.99. You can purchase it here.

If you know anything about me, you know I love October and I LOVE Halloween and costumes and scary everything and just everything about it. So I’m glad to be able to share these two paranormal-themed stories with you to celebrate.

Happy Halloween, and happy reading!

 

Book Review: Feversong


Before getting into tonight’s review, I made a small change to the format of this blog. Now when you go to the home page–instead of my blog post feed–you will be taken to a static page where I will post general updates about what I’m working on, followed by a list of my current books and links if you want to grab a copy. Right now the update is very vague and general since I’m working that out, lol, but it will become more detailed as I figure that out.

A list of recent blog posts is available on the right hand menu.

I decided to do this as a quicker and more general way of keeping readers and those who may stumble upon this blog up-to-date with what I’m working on. I don’t really blog as much as I used to, nor do I usually have the time and/or desire to blog that much, haha. February is an exception because I released a novella and then Reclaim, but I’m going to try to keep update posts to once every month, or even every two months. Until I’m well underway with a project, there’s usually not that much to say, and I end up repeating myself a lot.

With that said, onto my review of Feversong, the final installment of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series (at least as we know it!).

*****

feversong_coverI thoroughly enjoyed this conclusion to KMM’s Fever series, although I’m super bummed this is the end for Barrons and Mac’s story, at least, it seems, for now. I believe Ms. Moning is planning additional books set in the fever world, only centered around other characters, so I’m interested to see where that goes.

Honestly, I was nervous at the beginning of the book that I wouldn’t like it. At the end of Feverborn, to save herself and Jada/Dani, Mac basically opens her inner Sinsar Dubh…and sure, it gets them out, but it also turns Mac into a psychopath, haha. The parts written from Mac/the Sinsar Dubh’s perspective got old for me, fast, but luckily it’s only the first quarter of the book or so. And she does some REALLY horrible things while she’s possessed. I mean, dear God, lol.

But I loved the rest of the book, and I felt like everything that happened after that was a natural extension of Mac’s story. Also, and I may be in the minority here, but I really like Dani, and I liked seeing her become her old self more and more as the book went on. And I LOVE her and Dancer and get a little annoyed when KMM seems to be trying to appease the Dani/Ryodan shippers while also giving Dani and Dancer the time together they deserve.

I also enjoyed the flashbacks to Dani’s time in the Silvers with Shazam. (I love Shazam.) We get to find out more about him, too.

All in all, KMM brought this second part of the Fever series to a satisfying and admirable close, while still leaving the reader with a bit of a sense of mystery, particularly around the destinies of Barrons and Mac. (If you’re curious or confused, she did write a blog post about this. It’s on her Facebook page, but don’t read it until you finish this book because there are spoilers. But it might clear up any confusion you may have.)

There was also a scene in Feversong that made me cry. 😦 Overall, well done, Ms. Moning!

Reclaim Release Day!


If you’re seeing this, I hope you’re having a fabulous Valentine’s Day. Be sure to treat yourself to some chocolate and, pretty soon, some paranormal romance and adventure. Because, in mere hours, Reclaim (Reborn Book 3) goes live!

reclaimcoverThe paperback version is already available on Amazon. At the end of this post is a list of links to download Reclaim for Kindle, Nook, and some of the other major e-book retailers. Right now, you can pre-order it for $0.99, or check back tomorrow when it goes live.

And, if you’re new to the Reborn series, I’ve made each installment (three books + a novella) $0.99 each for the month of February! You can find the first book, Reborn, for Kindle here. The Reborn series is available through all major e-book retailers, but if you have questions about availability or formats offered, feel free to ask in the comments. 🙂

(And don’t worry; there’s more to come in the series. Stay tuned…..)

When you read Reclaim (or any of my books) and find yourself with a free minute or two, revenge_sl_stacy_cover_fullI’d appreciate it if you left a rating and/or review on Goodreads or Amazon (or wherever you purchased it from). (Seriously, even if it’s a one star review. Even if you HATED it, haha. All opinions matter.) Reviews really help all authors, but maybe particularly indie authors. Or take a moment to tell a friend about the Reborn series! Word of mouth is still one of the most (if not the most) important ways to get the word out about a book. So if you enjoyed it, recommend it to your book loving/paranormal romance loving friends out there! 😉

I’d also love to hear your thoughts personally. You can contact me through the aptly named “Contact Me” tab on this blog, by messaging me on my Facebook page, on twitter (@sstacy06), or email urge2write@gmail.com.

*****

Some Links

Download Reclaim on Kindle, Nook, Apple, Smashwords and Kobo.

Reclaim on Goodreads