Of Brine & Blood
B. Longino Smith
(Brine Series, #1)
Publication date: May 1st 2016
Genres: Adventure, Romance, Young Adult
In 1700 century England, a women’s purpose is only served in a home. But Kitrina Harvey has no home and the only place she feels will keep the memory of her father alive, is at sea. However, when she inexplicably finds herself on the ship of the infamous female pirate captain, Charlotte de Berry, she may have counted her good fortune too soon.
While Kit may have found a family among the motley crew of outlaws, and perhaps even a special interest in a particular pirate named Gage, is she ready to be a pirate herself?
Kit must ask herself what she is willing to do to please the pirate captain, made even more complicated when she finds out that her life is much more entangled in Charlotte’s than she originally believed.
Can she kill even when she discovers that she and Charlotte share a common enemy?
Set atop the planks of the great Athena, Of Brine & Blood is a fictionalized retailing of one of history’s infamous female pirates, through the eyes of a girl coming of age among the contrasting themes of love, revenge and power. Liberally sensationalized, Of Blood and Brine, follows the twisting trail of Kitrina Harvey’s life, as she recounts Captain Charlotte de Berry’s own story of love, loss and murder.
EXCERPT:Thomas adjusted his spectacles again and lowered the parchment to look at me. I nodded letting him know that I had understood and agreed to the articles. With that, he produced a quill from his breast pocket and handed it to me. He then laid the parchment on the railing of the deck and held it open so the wind would not catch it. I quickly scripted my signature and then held out my hand to return the pen. Thomas received it with his right hand but then made to grab my still extended arm with his left. He continued to hold my wrist as he replaced the quill in his pocket.
Holding my palm close to his face, he reached to his belt with his unoccupied hand, unsheathing a small blade. I automatically took a step back, tugging my hand as I went. But Thomas pulled me abruptly back to him, and in one fluid swipe, he pricked the flesh on my thumb.
As he let go of my wrist and went to replace his dagger, I stared in astonishment at the small drop of blood beginning to pool on the pad of my finger. Now, Thomas held the parchment out for me again, but this time I was confused. Reading my misunderstanding, he again took my hand and directed my thumb to the scroll pressing it next to my name. When he let go, I retracted my hand, but left behind was the red, wet smudge of my thumbprint in blood.
I looked up at Thomas with wide eyes. He seemed amused by my expression and continued to look smugly at me for a moment more before he turned to the captain. She had been watching us and her dimpled smile had returned.
“Do you have any questions, Kitrina?” she asked. I shook my head more in habit than in directly answering her question, feeling the accelerated beat of my heart in the flat of my thumb. “Alright then, Mr. Hamilton, please show Kitrina to a bucket and brush to swab the main deck,” she directed.
Thomas made for the stairs, and I followed, but soon spun back towards her. “Aye, yes, I do have a question, Captain,” I stammered trying to get out my question, as it formed in my mind.
She looked down at me, her dark eyes appearing to peer intrudingly deep into mine, waiting for me to go on.
Sheepishly I asked her, “What is our trade, Captain? Where is this ship destined?” I was suddenly, and embarrassingly, aware that I did not know the nature of our voyage.
At this, she threw her head back laughing. She lifted her grip on the helm, and it began to spin, slowly at first, but gradually it picked up speed sending the boat in a wide turn. Her laugh, growing from a small chuckle in correlation with the speed of the helm, echoed into a maniacal cackle.
Sails shifted, and men upon the deck rushed to account for the change of direction, pulling lines and adjusting the riggings. Smaller objects tumbled from portside to starboard and crashed into the rails. Thomas and I both made a grab for the deck railing to steady ourselves.
When she finally angled her chin back down at me to speak, her eyes were dancing. “Why, where ever the wind may take us!” she howled. She grabbed the helm again, at last pulling the ship out of its turn, but threw her head back and continued to snicker. The sound was ominous.
As Thomas pulled me towards the steps, I could feel that shock had frozen my face into a mixture of bewilderment and terror. I hurried to rearrange my features but leaned into Thomas as we walked to retrieve a pail and brush.
“Is she mad?” I whispered, unable to hold in my inquiry, seeing the wild look in her eyes again, though my back was now to her. He turned his head sharply, and I immediately regretted asking it, for I was sure to be punished for speaking ill of the captain. When he spoke, his expression settled into something less severe but still stern.
“I have been sailing with Charlie for five years and have been at sea for twelve before that. I have never seen her equal at sea. She hears the call of the ocean as if it speaks directly to her. She has an unparalleled intuition and knows what ships to run towards and which ones to run from. She is fair with her men and I hold her at the highest respect,” he said before pausing and setting me with a firm look again to convey that I should understand he meant every word.
Then he continued, “But mad you ask? Yes, in that regard too, I have never met her equal.”
Brittany lives with her husband and daughter just two miles away from the beach on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. The backdrop serves as a constant reminder, and motivator, in her nautical historical fiction projects.
Her current series in progress, the Brine Series, has been a story that she has 'picked at' for over five years. In the beginning, Brittany only had the undeniable compulsion to bring the vivid characters in her mind, to life, by recording their story on paper. However, only more recently have her characters become increasingly disgruntled by not having their story shared with others. Brittany's husband sided with her characters.
In the winter of 2015, after the first installment of the Brine Series, Of Brine and Blood, was complete; the second book, Of Bitter and Brine, was written and being revised; and the third installment, Brine: The Beginning, was outlined, Brittany's husband had had enough of talking about characters that were only real in the Smith household. As a Christmas present, Steven sent Of Brine and Blood off to a (fabulous) editor, unbeknownst to Brittany until Christmas morning.
With the overwhelming encouragement from Victoria (fabulous editor extraordinare), and the unwavering support from her husband, Brittany began her publishing journey. She is indescribably excited to be sharing her characters and their adventure with others.
Brittany also feels as though this brief bio does not adequately include the recognition of her daughter, mother, father, sister and all others who have been invaluable sources of motivation, inspiration, and support.
To get updates on new releases in the Brine Series please visit: www.blsbooks.com
What Love Is
Publication date: April 29th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense
In this epic romance collection that spans eighteen years, the lives of six people will be changed forever.
Ask a million people what love is, and you’ll get a million different answers. None of them are wrong.
What makes a Marine take a bullet for a Hollywood starlet?
What makes a singer with a deep-seated hatred for the wealthy find herself smiling for the first time with a billionaire?
What makes a small-town princess defy death to be reunited with her small-town prince?
The answer is love.
EXCERPT:I hadn’t been held quite like this ever before, so tenderly yet with an unmistakable undercurrent of lust. I’d had embraces in the past, in another lifetime, that meant all kinds of things. Celebrations, commiserations, I-was-just-jokings, they’d provided so much I didn’t even realize until they were gone.
One minute they were there and then all of a sudden there were no more shoulders to cry on. The shoulder that I should have been able to turn to was busy with other things, things that weren’t me, and that had maybe done the most damage of all. That had hurt a lot.
“Are you going to hurt me too?” I whispered without even consciously willing it, so quietly that I didn’t think Jeremy would hear, but he did.
Jeremy stopped moving and I could feel him looking down at me.
“No. Bea, look at me,” he said.
Jeremy let go with one hand and I felt his finger lightly pushing my chin until I opened my eyes and gazed up at him. Jeremy’s brow furrowed and he shook his head gently.
“No,” he repeated.
I lost myself in his eyes for a second and then raised myself up on the tips of my toes to get closer to him. Jeremy lowered his head and our lips met for the second time in as many days, a much slower kiss that soon had me as oblivious to the outside world as I had been while dancing just a few moments ago.
The song faded away and our lips parted as I heard the sound of a couple people clapping. Our waitress was standing next to the young man who had been moving tables earlier and an older man, the owner perhaps. They were all clapping politely, but only our waitress had a truly dreamy look in her eye.
When we had been interrupted the previous day I had been anxious to get some distance between the two of us as quickly as possible. I didn’t feel that now, I didn’t want to be apart from him even a single inch.
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I'm in my thirties and living in New Zealand. About 3 years ago I lost somebody very close to me. I was lucky in a way, I was given enough time to make a promise. My promise was that I would never forget our young and innocent love, and it's a promise I intend to keep.
My writing is a way to help me keep that promise. I've always enjoyed writing but was forced into being 'prudent' and giving myself over to soul-crushing office work for the sake of a steady salary. Recent events forced me to re-evaluate my priorities and I decided to take a chance. I like to put little pieces of 'us' into my writing, from funny conversations we had, to apocalyptic arguments, to that special feeling you get when you hop into bed fully aware that your feet are freezing but your partner doesn't kick you away.
Even though these things are set in fictional worlds and attached to fictional characters, in a way it feels like I'm doing something that will make our love live forever. If somebody reads one of my stories and likes a joke or sheds a tear, then our love has lived on, and I thank any readers I might have for that.
Book Title: Argonauts
Author: Kevin Kneupper
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Release Date: March 28, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Some called her a sorceress, though what she did was science. Medea was a genomancer, a programmer of human genetic code. She could extend someone’s life, turn an ugly duckling into a startling beauty, and cure the most stubborn of diseases. She’d have spent her life helping those who needed it, if only she could have.
But the Argo Corporation didn’t pay her to help people. It paid her to remake their warriors into the ultimate fighting machines. Men with claws, and teeth to match. Men with the reflexes of cats and the strength of a bear. What was once the stuff of fantasy was now real, and corporations the world over were all using genomancers to build armies of their own.
Medea was comfortable in her lab, and she would have stayed there given the choice. She was one of the few who still had a job, now that most of the world’s occupations had been automated away, and she lived a life of relative luxury. But she didn’t count on being pulled into the machinations of two of the biggest corporations on the planet.
And she didn’t count on meeting Jason.
Jason was a shareholder, one of the few, and wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of the masses. He was tall, handsome, and rich, and he could have lived an idle life of ease. He’d chosen to be a warrior instead. But his father had kept him from fighting any actual battles, and years of grueling training left him with disgust for anyone who’d stoop to using a genomancer to cut to the front of the line.
Now Jason’s father is dead, and things have changed. He’s been summoned by Pelias, the CEO of the Argo Corporation, and assigned to a dangerous mission in a strange land full of wonders. And he hasn’t been given a choice about who he’ll take with him: Medea. She was born in the city they’re heading to, and she’s indispensable to the mission. Now Jason is forced to protect someone he sees as a cheater, someone whose genetic shortcuts can only taint a warrior’s honor. He can’t stand her, and he can’t stand what she does for a living. But he’ll need her if he expects to survive the trials to come.
Some called her a glorified nurse. Just a pusher of pills, a dispenser of shots. Just the woman who sat on the sidelines while the warriors did their deeds and fought their battles. A cog in their machine, meant to stand behind them, always in their shadow and always in her place.
But she was more than that. She was the woman who healed them in battle, the woman who patched them up when things went wrong, the woman who controlled their very genetic code. She was the woman who changed them, and made them something more than what they’d been. And without her, they’d all be nothing: just ordinary men, with ordinary skills, and ordinary genes.
She was in her lab, perched atop the city of Argos, windows on all sides looking out on the skyline below. There were people who would die for that view, and the privileges that came with it. There were people who’d fought and clawed their entire lives just to get near it. They could call her what they liked, the warriors. They were glory hounds one and all, and none were fond of sharing the limelight. They could mock her, and they could insult her, but beneath the bluster they all knew who needed whom.
Her lab was state of the art, the best tools for the best of her trade. Sleek white machines hummed their metal songs as they worked, processing her data and mixing her concoctions. Stocky little robots whizzed around the floor, running materials back and forth wherever they were needed. Giant hydraulic arms did the grunt work, pumping liquids into trays and beakers in just the right amounts, at just the right times, all according to her specifications. She had everything she could want, everything that could possibly save her time or make her work go just a little bit more smoothly. It was valuable, what she did, and no expense was spared in making sure she did it well.
She walked along the rows of machines, checking each against the data on her tablet, confirming that every detail was correct before she went through with the procedure to come. She was a beauty, but then, everyone in her trade was. Appearances could be tailored, altered from one day to the next on a whim. Cheekbones could rise and fall, noses could thicken or thin, eyes could whirl through a kaleidoscope of colors according to one’s tastes. She controlled it all, and the outside was the easiest part to change. At present, her eyes were dark and her skin was olive. She wore a white lab coat, the uniform of her profession, and one that had protected her clothing from more spills than she could count. Her hair was jet black, and she kept it long, tightened into a neat bun while she worked. But she liked to tinker with herself, just as she did with others, and what she’d look like from one week to the next was anyone’s guess.
Her lab was a lonely place, and often she had only robots to keep her company. But today she had a patient: a man, strapped to a chair, thick metal wires coiled around his arms and legs to lock them into place. He was a warrior’s warrior, a muscle-bound bruiser who killed who he was told to kill and did what he was told to do. His hair was a shaggy, sandy mop, his eyes a dull brown topped by a thick brow. He wasn’t a thinker; you could tell that just looking at him. But they all wanted to climb the ranks however they could, and here he was to make himself just a little bit better at what he did. Just a little edge, the kind that could make all the difference in battles where everything was at stake on the outcome.
“Four more injections,” said Medea. “Then you’ll be the warrior you’ve always wanted to be.” They were lined up in a row on the counter, the little vials of green liquid she was about to pump into him. She plunged a syringe into the first, filling it up and double-checking to make sure the dose was precise.
“This better not fuck me up,” said Antaeus. He gave his restraints a wary eye, tugging against them just to be sure. “I’ve heard stories, about what this does to people. About what happens if you get things wrong. And I’ve heard the things they say about you.”
“That’s all black market stuff,” said Medea. “You go to a back alley genomancer, who knows what you’re injecting? I splice everything myself. And we don’t skimp on quality.” She waved a hand to a row of machinery taking up an entire wall in the lab: a vast computer attached to an array of tools, ranging from centrifuges spinning biological materials to bubbling vats of pink goo. “The best the Argo Corporation has to offer. The best you’re going to get, anywhere.”
Antaeus didn’t trust her, but none of them ever did. It used to irk her, that they’d let her do something so intimate to them and yet treat her like an outcast. The comments they made once cut, and deeply, but now they merely stung. They thought of her as an enchantress, working her unfathomable magics upon them. They couldn’t understand her, and so they wanted to control her, chopping away at her just to be sure she was still safely under their thumbs. She hurt a little with every slight, but she’d built up a shell, a persona they couldn’t fluster, and it kept her safe inside even when they were at their worst.
She held the syringe above his arm, poised for the first injection. “Last chance. Once this code goes in, it’s not coming out, not for months. It’ll be a part of you. Every last strand of your DNA will change. You can go back, if you change your mind, but it won’t be easy. And it won’t be cheap.”
“Do it,” said Antaeus. “Let’s get this over with.”
“I’m not going to lie,” said Medea. “This will hurt. Just for a few days. Just until your system processes the new code, gets it merged in with all the rest.” She stuck the needle into his arm, dumping the first of her concoctions into his veins.
“I can handle it,” said Antaeus. “I can handle anything.”
“We’ll see,” said Medea. She emptied shot after shot into his skin, continuing on until the course was done. Then a final needle: a nutrient tube, attached to a machine nearby. It began pumping yellow fluids into his body, concentrated proteins, vitamins, and other biological raw materials, the fuel he’d need to make the change he was about to undergo.
They waited, and everything was quiet at first. She checked the diagnostics, watched his heart rate, watched his blood pressure, watched anything that could go wrong. Nothing did; he was healthy, and he was young, and she was good at what she did. He sat there in the chair, and for a time all was still. For a time, there was no sign she’d done anything to him at all.
But as the minutes passed, his hands began to twitch. First the right one, then the left. He gave a grimace, and he kept looking back and forth between the two. “I can feel something. Under my skin. It itches.”
“That’s normal,” said Medea. “That’s okay. Just let the shots do their work.”
“It’s in my throat,” said Antaeus. “Is it supposed to be in my throat?”
She shined a light in one eye, then the other. Then she picked up a black, handheld diagnostic device, holding it against his arm as it pricked his skin with a tiny needle and sampled his blood. “Everything’s fine. Vital signs are good. Your code’s changing, right on cue. Just roll with it, and keep calm. You know what’s going to happen to you, and you know it’s going to be a bit of a shock to your system.”
He tried to keep it together, but big as he was and strong as he was, he wasn’t prepared for what came next. None of them ever were.
“My fingernails,” said Antaeus. “They’re turning black.”
And they were, little spots of pigment appearing at random across them. They spread until they were pools, and as he wiggled his hands the nails themselves seemed to change: thinning, growing longer, clicking against the arm of the chair as he moved. “Good,” said Medea. “That’s good. Keep them still. Just let them do their thing.”
“It hurts,” said Antaeus. “My skin. Everywhere, it hurts.”
“You’re a big boy,” said Medea. “And you wanted to be a bigger one.”
He was getting bigger, in fact, and visibly so. He’d been tall and muscular beforehand, but now he was growing cartoonishly oversized, his biceps bulging against the restraints, his pectorals moving under his shirt as they added pound after pound of muscle beneath. She could see hairs crawling out of the neck of his shirt, long, brown strands that probed their way out millimeter by millimeter until they joined together in thick, scruffy patches.
“Hurts,” said Antaeus. But it was barely a word as it came from his mouth. He bit down upon the sound as it left him, and his lips flared to reveal the cause: overgrown canines, poking down further than they should. Soon he couldn’t even close his mouth around them, and his voice lowered and wavered until nothing was left but a growl.
“It’s supposed to hurt,” said Medea. She wiped a damp cloth against his forehead, dabbing away his sweat, speaking to him in soothing tones as he became more and more a beast. “You’ll get better. Just keep yourself centered, and don’t panic. Everything’s fine. Everything’s under control.”
He didn’t seem to believe it. He kept looking at his hands, watching the spread of fur upon them, watching his wrists balloon until they pushed up against the very edges of the restraints. He pulled at them, trying to break free, shouting unintelligible sounds all the while. His eyes were wild, and he lunged his head toward her, trying for a bite, before falling back exhausted as the changes slowed and his body stabilized.
“The worst part’s over,” said Medea. “Now you’re what you wanted to be.”
He was still a man, mostly. But he was something else as well. The fur had spread all across his body, a thick coat of light brown. His fingers were tipped with sharp black claws, nasty enough to maul anyone foolish enough to face him in battle. He was stronger than ever, and he looked it: his chest was a barrel, his arms oversized pistons, and all of him bigger than any human had a right to be. But the biggest change of all was to his face. His teeth were daggers, the whites of his eyes had gone brown, and his nose looked distinctly like a snout. If one didn’t know better, and were to catch him in the dark, they might think him nothing more than a big, angry bear.
Medea drew a sample of blood, running it through her diagnostics. She pressed a button on one of the machines and he was bathed in a blue light, scanned from head to toe by the laboratory’s systems. She put a finger to his wrist and counted his pulse by hand, just to be sure. She went over the bloodwork, for both check and double-check, before turning back to the creature sitting before her.
“Everything’s green,” said Medea. “Vitals are good, code is functioning, chromosomes are stable. You’re everything you hoped you could be, and you’re exactly what the Argo Corporation needs in a warrior. Looks like today’s your lucky day. Welcome to the Argonauts.”
(Love in Days, #1)
Publication date: September 27th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Her. Him. Alone. Beach house. Every Wednesday. Clothing optional.
Twenty-one-year-old Aria Prince has just moved back to her hometown to start over after a painful divorce. She’s always prided herself on being an early bloomer, but had no idea she’d be married, divorced, and the mother of a toddler by twenty-one. Surely menopause was just a few months away, especially considering the hot flashes and night sweats. Or was that just exhaustion?
Unlike her friends who were at school, going to parties, and sowing their oats—wild and otherwise—Aria’s days were measured in the number of orders she took at her family’s restaurant, the chapters she read in her nursing text, the amount of Cheerios she cleaned up off the floor, and the wet kisses she received from her son.
And that was just fine with her.
But when she began running into her former best-friend Tristan Green—who was home taking care of his sick father—at every turn, she remembered what it felt like to be just Aria. Not a single mother, or sleep-deprived nursing student, or royal screw up. And though she didn’t even have time to shave her legs, let alone consider a sex life, Tristan makes an offer she’d be a fool to refuse.
Each day they’d give themselves to those who needed them. Every day – except Wednesday. Wednesday they’d take what they needed from each other.
Did she forget to mention Tristan was gorgeous?
Or that they hated each other?
Well, you know what they say about the line between love and hate … it’s a skinny-ass bitch. The question was, could they keep their feelings out of it?
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Aria:One day each week. Four days each month. Twelve days over the summer… if the arrangement would even last that long.
That is his request.
That is his request.
He looks at me and the disdain in his eyes has disappeared. Now they warm for me. No. Burn. They burn for me and through me.
Could I do this?
“Well, Aria,” he purrs in a voice I don’t recognize. “What do you think? Forget it all and become mine for one day?”
My brain tries to make sense of the sinful offer, but my body is already in motion – making my way to the man I once knew.
His eyes delight with each step I take toward him. His stance somehow opens for me. When I stop, however, to meet his scorching gaze, a wave of confusion washes over his face and gives him away. He’s not as confident as he lets on.
But when I answer his offer with my lips, it’s the last time I see any kind of trepidation. No, at that point I know – he will be in control from here on out.
And in a place very deep inside, I am relieved.
It was a crazy, exciting, brilliant – thought maybe a bit sleazy – idea. But it made perfect sense. We were both stuck here for who knew how long, so why not make the most of it?
Tonight’s the deadline for her decision. Seven o’clock, only twenty minutes from now. Aria said she’d consider my offer, but I’m not sure I can trust her.
Still, I light the candles, straighten the bed, and hope.
And it’s excruciating. Whoever said anticipation is half the fun is a moron.
I need to show her what she missed when she left with him all those years ago. It was my fault, I know that now. I waited too long, and when I finally got the balls to do something about it, I was too late.
That’s when I learned that nice guys finish last. Always. Forget the chick flicks where the nerd triumphs and gets the girl – all that Michael Cera bullshit. Doesn’t happen. Unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey, and are on your way to making billions.
I’m ashamed to admit that’s where my motivation came from. I thought I could erase Aria with another woman. But I knew I needed to make some serious changes to do that. It’s why I went to MIT. It’s also why I quit MIT to start my own company. And I why worked around the clock and spent every cent I had on my latest idea.
At least that’s how it started out.
And it worked. Once I got out of Dodge, my lanky body filled out and I became confident and successful. Women were no longer an issue.
Not that you’d know that now. As the clock ticks closer to seven, I’m coming undone and clearly losing my cool.
Confidence? Out the window.
Upper lip? Beaded in sweat.
Nails? Chewed down to the quick.
Hair? A big, kinky 1970s bush, after continuously running my hands through it.
Balls? Blue, as they have been since she came back into town.
Yep, in the span of ten minutes, I’ve gone from Magic Mike to Jonah Hill.
Where are the assless chaps when you need them?
Pacing around the room, I listen as the waves crash on the beach outside the door. The door I’m willing to open with my Jedi mind tricks. Forget everything I’ve done over the past three years: the start-ups; the research; the hours behind the computer. None of it matters now because I’ve become a pathetic shell of my former self, like the kid I was in high school. The dorky computer geek who always landed in the fucking friend zone.
In less than a month, I’ve morphed back into that guy. Waiting on that girl. My mind races on an endless loop of insecurities. Will she do it again? Will she stand me up? Will she leave?
I know I shouldn’t care. I have options a-plenty these days. Still, I want her. One day is all I’m asking for. It’s all we need. One day a week. Four days each month. Fifty-two goddamn times each year.
On the other three-hundred-fourteen days, we could go back to business as usual. She would pretend not to notice me in town and I’d pretend that I hate her sweet little ass.
Clare James writes steamy contemporary romance and new adult stories, penning more than a dozen novels. Her Entangled Brazen debut, CAUGHT, was a #1 Amazon Best-Selling Romance Series, and the touching family drama, WEDNESDAY, also hit #1 as a category bestseller on Amazon.
Clare is fan of spunky women, gorgeous guys, and super-hot romance, and spends most of her time lost in books. When she's not reading, you can find her locked away writing. Clare is also a former dancer and still loves to get her groove on - mostly to work off her beloved cupcakes and red wine. She lives in Minneapolis with her two leading men - her husband and young son - and is always on social media chatting with readers.
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