Review //\\ His Ranch, His Rules

Photo by TheOther Kev on

His Ranch, His Rules by Shanna Handel

His Ranch, His Rules is an easy to read, low angst, somewhat steamy read. Georgia is a hot mess at the start of the book, and I liked how brave the author was in writing the heroine this way. We saw growth in her character and, with one exception (which I will return to later) I liked how she grew in strength and resilience.

Whilst the hero spanks the heroine for the first time really soon after they first met, it was entirely consensual. However, the book really suffered from a very “tell not show” narrated style of writing, this then impacted on my connection with Brody, since the book is written entirely from Georgia’s point of view. However this is perfect if you’re looking for a light, sexy “beach read” with a side of spanking.

I loved Georgia’s uncompromising attitude when Brody messed up and let her down, especially regarding his lack of trust. Now here is where me exception from earlier comes in. Brody not trusting Georgia was what really upset and hurt her, yet this was never addressed. I felt that Brody didn’t truly earn his forgiveness. However I definitely enjoyed this book – hence the three stars.

Title – His Ranch, His Rules
Author – Shanna Handel
Genre – Erotic Western Romance

Georgia Hamilton has done her best to keep her life together since her boyfriend of four years left her broken-hearted, but if she were being honest, she’d have to admit she isn’t doing great. She’s getting tipsy–if not drunk–more and more often, and now she’s lost both her job and her apartment. So when an old friend sets her up with a position complete with room and board on a ranch run by a man who looks like he stepped out of a cowboy movie, she jumps at the chance.
But there’s a catch, of course. Brody Jenkins is an old-fashioned man who believes in hard work, clean living, and firm-handed discipline. That means no drinking, and when she’s caught with a bottle of alcohol, Georgia soon finds herself sobbing and promising to be good as she is very soundly spanked and then pouring her heart out as she is gently held in Brody’s strong arms.

Brody’s stern correction leaves Georgia blushing and sore yet deeply aroused, and she cannot help longing for him to make her his. Once he does, however, she soon learns the hard way that naughty girls can just as easily be punished with pleasure more intense than they can stand. But after a terrible misunderstanding creates a rift between them, will Brody prove to be the man Georgia has always needed, or will she end up leaving his ranch and his rules behind forever?

Top 5 Saturday

Should I admit that, despite growing up in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I have never actually watched The Breakfast Club? This weeks prompt at Devouring Books is to post your Top 5 Coming of Age books. I’m not the biggest fan of YA or NA books though I have read a fair few of them over the years.

I could include Little Women, which was a favourite in those years between not quite a child but not yet a true teenager. Then there are the much missed Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett, with those crazy Wee Free Men. However it’s been more than a while since I read those, so my choices are going to be picked from more recent reads.

Top 5 Coming of Age books

Strictly speaking these aren’t necessarily coming of age, though all the main characters undergo personal growth and development, so I am counting that as the same thing.

These are all books I enjoyed, each one rating between 4 and 5 stars.

Title – Roar (Stormheart #1)
Author – Cora Carmack
Genre – YA Fantasy

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.
Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.
To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.
Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

Title – Prison of Statues (Statues Trilogy #1)
Author – Ainsley Shay
Genre – YA Paranormal

Her nightmares are more than a warning…On the evening of her father’s funeral, Iris’ nightmare bursts with colors, despite her having been color blind since birth. But when she wakes in the morning, her world turns gray once again.
Soon after, she encounters three mysterious strangers who are inexplicably drawn to her. Through secrets and deceit, she fears they are all here for one reason…her.
Now, night after night, the nightmares continue into a series of disturbing events where Iris finds herself caught in a vibrant collision of past and present. But when the nightmares start to cross into her physical realm, she must find a way to fight for her life, and for a love she may once have had.

Title – Eerie
Author – C.M.Mcoy
Genre – YA Paranormal Romance

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world’s premier supernatural university. It’s a school she’s never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that’s not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship…
Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid. When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds only one place offers her answers–a paranormal university in Alaska. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her otherworldly classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from the evil immortal who took her sister doesn’t decide to kill her himself.

Title – Killshot (Icarus #1)
Author – Aria Michaels
Genre – YA Dystopian/Science Fiction

After the death of their parents, seventeen year old Liv Larson and her younger brother are separated by the foster care system. Her grades slip, her friends drift away, and she gives up on her plans for college. The only thing that matters is keeping the promise to get back to her brother. After months of solitude and anti-social behavior, Liv’s best friend Riley drags her to their high school’s rooftop solar flare party. Despite the beautiful lights dancing in the sky, Liv finds herself captivated by Zander, a mysterious boy with a crooked smile. For a few hours, she allows herself to feel normal again.
That is until what should have been a small flare erupts into a massive solar storm. Cut off from the rest of the world with no sign of rescue, fear and paranoia begin to take their toll on the group. Battle lines are drawn and their ranks are divided. Soon, those left behind must embark on a perilous journey to save one of their own…but, something sinister awaits them in the shadows and it’s undeniably connected to Liv.
Can she keep her promise to reunite with her brother? What are Liv and her friends willing to do to survive? Will their bravery and determination be enough to save them all from a rogue military unit, a terrifying virus, and the things that go bump in the night?
Or was Icarus really the KILLSHOT?

Title – The Omega’s Prophecy (Legend Of Gods #1)
Author – M.U. Skar
Genre – Omegaverse Fantasy Romance

Centuries ago, the Goddess of all Omegas betrayed her mate by falling in love with the infamous Lord of Xibalba.
Enslaved for a crime they did not commit…
To prevent Omegas from repeating History, the Gods created the Mark. A barbarous, merciless act, maiming an Omega for life, forging an unbreakable bond between an Alpha and his mate.
Their quest for freedom just found its beacon of hope
Change was coming, centuries-old traditions were finally questioned… before the people of Khelliom lost their King, before the Dragons of the North decided to take control of the Realm, before Kiara, Omega princess from a southern Clan, rumored to be the reincarnation of the Goddess, seeking to reveal the truth behind the greatest lie of all times.
Laying down a path, paved with suffering and sorrow
Caught up in the brewing war, Kiara must grow stronger if she wants to uncover the deceit of the Alphas around her, and survive the return of the Gods, each coming to claim her for their own.

Blog Tour //\\ Fraud

Title: Fraud 

Series: Antihero Inferno #2

Author: Lily White

Release Date: June 24, 2020
Genre: Romantic Suspense (standalone)

Eighth Circle.
Also known as Gabriel Dane.
He is a ray of sunshine that warms your heart with kind eyes and a dazzling smile.
Don’t let him fool you with that silver tongue or lure you in with a body that draws every woman’s eye. This man is fluent in deception and a devil who only offers pretty lies.
Gabriel is my old nemesis.
I’m the girl that always fought back.
He has every reason to hate me as much as I hate him.
Now that he found me, he’s determined to make me pay for our past.
Except, there are two small details Gabriel doesn’t know that will be his ultimate downfall:
There are no rules when it comes to our war.
And I’ve learned to lie just as good as him.

***Each novel in the series depicts a unique romance, but the plots through each book connect in one world. For the best experience, read the series in order.

Nine Standalone novels. Nine dangerous men. Nine unrepentant sinners you’ll hate to love.

Buy Links (Kindle Unlimited):
Amazon US:
Amazon CA:
Amazon UK:
Amazon AU:

Praise for the novel: 

‘A super sexy enemies to lovers romance that was FIRE HOT! I am obsessed with this series.’ ~Keri Loves Books

‘I freaking LOVE this series! Even though we are only 2 books in, I know that this will be one of my all time favorites!’ ~Two Sassy Chicks

Giveaway: $15 Amazon GC (Post goes live 6/24 at 12:00 a.m.) –

In The Series: 
Treachery (Antihero Inferno Book 1)
Amazon US:
Amazon UK:
Amazon CA:
Amazon AU:

Author Bio:

Lily White is a romance writer who likes to dabble on the taboo side of eroticism. She is most known for her Masters Series, Target This, Wishing Well, and Asylum. In addition to dark romance Lily writes contemporary romance, taboo romance, and psychological thrillers. Lily enjoys stretching her writing muscles by continuing to challenge herself with each book she publishes.

Social Media Links:





Book Blogger Hop

Friday Book Blog Hop

So I’m joining in once again with Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer and their weekly blog hop. This weeks prompt was supplied by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews and is –

What book/books got a lot of hype but were a disappointment for you?

That’s not all that easy a prompt for me, because I mainly read independently published books, so there isn’t always a lot of hype for those. However in our little corner of the book world, we do still see some books whipping up a social media frenzy. One of those was The Wild by K Webster which, in my opinion, fully deserved the praise heaped on it. I’m going to interpret this (as is my want) in my own way and go for books that everyone else seemed to like, but I didn’t.

Title – R.I.P.
Author – Charity B
Goodreads –

This was a Book of the Month read in a group I’m in and several reader friends raved about how good a book it was. I started reading this at the start of lockdown in the UK, so there is every chance my mindset wasn’t right for this but I just felt it was rather contrived. It seemed to have dark events solely for the shock factor and bragging rights, rather than being pivotal to the plot.
I do intend to give this a second try at some point – it wouldn’t be the first time I did that and totally changed my mind about a book.

Title – The Body Painter
Author – Pepper Winters
Goodreads –

This was a much anticipated book. I remember doing the cover reveal for this over a year before it was eventually released. We heard so much about how dark this was going to be, until it wasn’t. I found it very slow and repetitive, yet the prose is so poetical and beautiful that it still entertained.

Title – Land of the Beautiful Dead
Author – R. Lee Smith
Goodreads –

The author who features next recommended this book in her Facebook group. Loads of people then jumped on the thread praising it and saying how it was a 5 star read.
It was probably three times longer than it needed to be. An hour in and very little had happened (I was maybe only 10 – 15% into the book too).
A book needs to hook me in quickly or I soon lose interest, which I did with this. It ended up being a DNF.

Title – Stolen (Alpha’s Claim #4)
Author – Addison Cain
Goodreads –

My aim is not to sound entitled here. The purchase of a book does not make the author beholden to me in any way. I enjoyed what I paid for so the exchange was successful. This represents all those unfinished series, all those sudden radio silences on when the next book will be.
This isn’t the only author who has abandoned a series part way through, though the rest have stepped away from writing altogether, mainly due to mental or physical health reasons. I have been hearing more and more dissenting voices over the fact that the author has 3 (or 4 if you include The Golden Line) series that are unfinished. Until recently, when a book #5 was put on pre-order, there was no indication of when any of these series might be continued. I won’t say finished as that simply feels too much to hope for.
This isn’t a criticism of the author, who has every right to write and release what she wants, when she wants to. She owes me nothing. This is a personal note to myself to learn to step away sooner from a situation that isn’t doing me any good!

Review //\\ Mister Baller

Photo by cottonbro on

Mister Baller by Cassie-Ann L. Miller

A book that makes me both laugh and cry has to be a winner.

Iris and Jude stole my heart in Mister Baller. Their story was simply wonderful, so enjoyable to read. The perfect mix of humour, snark, angst and steam that all blends together to make an amazing love story. I adored Ivy, who was shy but brave and determined, and loved sexy, smooth but also vulnerable Jude.

Cassie-Ann L. Miller writes beautifully, so that you become immersed not only in the story but in the emotions of the protagonists too. I lived the feelings portrayed in this story, I was totally invested in Jude and Ivy, both as individuals and as a couple, cheering them on towards a HEA. Whilst somewhat slow-burn, this is still full of sexual tension and chemistry. An enemies-to-lovers that didn’t have to rely on forced angst to make it interesting, instead great characters and a fantastic story took care of that.

Reading Mister Baller was akin to taking a very pleasant journey, time flew past, there was lots to see and do along the way, we experience a few rough patches but it was all worth while when we got to the end.

Title – Mister Baller
Author – Cassie-Ann L. Miller
Genre – Contemporary Sports Romance
Goodreads –

My college rival. My ex-husband’s best friend.
My new roommate? Oh, boy.

The last thing I want is to rent my spare bedroom to my ex-husband’s best friend. His six-foot-three, dimple-faced, alphahole best friend.
His injured-professional-football-player best friend.
But desperate times, desperate measures, y’know? I can’t afford to hold grudges. These heaping bills of mine won’t pay themselves.
Keeping my distance from my new roommate should be simple enough. I mean, I can’t stand Jude Kingston. Plus, as my ex’s friend, he’s so off-limits he’s virtually radioactive. In any case, Jude promises to stay out of my way. He’s just a broken football hero in need of a quiet place to focus on healing his injured knee and saving his lifelong dream. Harmless, right? Um, not so much…
The man is infuriating. He spends his days parading that shirtless, muscle-bound body all around my house. He insists on involving himself in my private business. He has zero concept of personal space. But he also has this boyish, unintentional charm. And this inconvenient way of repeatedly coming to my rescue. Suddenly, lust is throbbing in every room of this house. Lingering gazes over the dinner table…
Sweaty workout sessions on the living room floor…
Stolen kisses in the moonlit hallways…

I can’t fight these soft feelings growing roots in my belly. Jude is a vine, slowly wrapping himself around my heart. But when a piece of my past threatens his entire future, will our love even stand a chance?

Photo by Pixabay on

Cover Reveal // Promises Broken

Title: Promises Broken (Nine Kingdoms, Book 4)

Author: Ann Bakshis

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Editor: John Cameron McClain
Cover Designer: Lori Pryzbranowski of Hell Yes Designs
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

A close up of a sign

Description automatically generated


A fortunate turn of events has Evander seeing his desires finally being fulfilled, but at a great cost to his wife Honora. Her only wish now is to flee the realm, but that can’t happen until the gate into the lost kingdom of Toorkuns has been unlocked. The moment it is, all the creatures in Reynes will have their full powers restored, and balance of rule will shift to the dark magic beings.

But neither she nor Evander have the nine medallions required to unlock the gate, and there’s very few opportunities available to obtain them without suspicion. Lies will be told, truths unraveled, and deals made that no husband should ever agree to.

Honora plans on reopening the gate… no matter what.

Buy Links:
Unleashing the Shadows:
Beware the Seer:
The Loss of Another:


A person looking at the camera

Description automatically generated

Author Bio:
I’ve always loved to write ever since I was young. I would picture myself as the main character so I could go on adventures. They began as daydreams, which I eventually put down onto paper. Throughout the years I would write whenever I got the chance no matter how small the manuscript turned out to be. I’d tried the traditional method of sending out query letters to agents, but they would respond with a “thanks, but no thanks” note. I felt discouraged, but kept writing. I had a lot of encouragement from my mom, my Aunt Jeanne, my daughter, and my husband. Having the support helped keep me chasing my dream. A few years ago, I decided to buckle down and get serious about my writing. After some research and speaking with a friend of my husband, I took the plunge into self-publishing. I found an editor and a cover designer along with other indie authors on Facebook. I’ve joined groups and asked advice from writers who have already been through the steps it takes to get out there. It took me four years and three versions before I published my first book titled Wasteland. From there, I’ve completed several series and stand-alones with quite a few more in progress, so watch for their release.

Author Links: 

Release // The Quest

Title: The Quest

Author: Karina Kantas

Genre: YA Fantasy/PNR

Cover Designer: Sharon Lipman – Fantasia Cover Designs
Editor: Michell Dunbar
Publisher: Asteri Press
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

A close up of a person

Description automatically generated



When Haty notices a Tsinian crystal glowing, she knows she must stick to her word and return to her homeland as Thya. Knowing her kinsmen needed her, there was no hesitation. Even though there was more to lose than just her life.

Once more a prophecy informs the reader of oracles that only Thya could stop the war and save not just her people, but the rest of Enumac from Kovon’s psychotic plans.

Along with three other companions, Thya is sent on a perilous quest to locate a crystal eye which holds an evil known as the Dark Force.

The group is tried and tested throughout their journey by monsters, death and courage.

New friendships will be formed and others lost.

Thya’s power becomes stronger and a second will threatens to take over her mind body and soul.

A terrifying surprise waits for them in the city of Helkon.

Will they survive?

Will Thya return to Tsinia and for the final showdown with Kovon?

Find out by reading the thrilling concluding part of Illusional Reality.

Book Links: 
Illusional Reality:
The Quest:


Book Trailer:

A person posing for a picture

Description automatically generated

Author Bio:
Karina Kantas is a prolific author of 13 titles. Including the gritty MC thriller series, OUTLAW and the exciting YA fantasy duology, Illusional Reality. She also writes short stories and when her imagination is working overtime, she writes thought-provoking dark flash fiction.

There are many layers to Karina’s writing style and voice, as you will see in her flash fiction collection, Heads & Tales and in UNDRESSED she opens up more to her fans, giving them another glimpse into her warped mind.

When Karina isn’t busy working on her next bestseller, she’s a publicist, author manager and VA. She’s also the host of the popular radio show, Author Assist on the Artist First Radio Network and host of the YouTube show, Behind The Pen.

Karina writes in the genres of fantasy, MC romance, Young Adult. sci-fi, horror, thrillers and comedy, romance, PNR, dystopian and erotica.

Author Links: 
Facebook duology page:
Newsletter sign up:

Release //The Lone Wolf

Title: The Lone Wolf

Author: Emily Cyr

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Cover Designer: Rebecca Frank
Editor: Kristina Circelli
Publication Date: July 1st, 2020
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

A picture containing sitting, standing, bear, cat

Description automatically generated

Sometimes a pack isn’t for everyone – it may even be the death of you.

All Isa wanted was to venture out on her own, without her overbearing pack breathing down her neck. Her dream comes crashing down around her when she returns home from college to find her little sister imprisoned for a horrible crime, and her own neck on the chopping block when she decides to set her free.

However, her pack offers her a stay of execution – find Brock Wolfsbane, the only wolf from her pack to ever go rogue, or be put to death.

Now Isa must hunt for the wolf whose name haunted her dreams as a pup. And, worse, even if she does somehow manage to find Brock and return him to the pack, she must mate with the new alpha, a death sentence in its own right. But the search for the wolf who never wanted to be found will soon unearth a lifetime of secrets. Her only hope is to find the lone wolf, if she wants to survive a world that is hell-bent on killing her.

Book Links: 

Author Bio: 

Emily Cyr is a stay-at-home mom turned writer. She holds a degree in middle grades education with certification in English and social science. She has always had a love of all things paranormal and fantasy, but it wasn’t until Emily’s husband said the words, “Why not?” that she considered putting her thoughts and ideas into the book, The Lightning Prophecy. This trilogy was just the start for Emily. It seemed to open a creative door that had been locked. 

Emily has always been an avid reader. Through reading came her love of writing. The more she read, the more she knew she wanted to create her own world. Many of her first works were fan fiction.

Emily and her family currently reside in Cibolo, Texas. She has an incredibly supportive husband who is also an officer in the United States Air Force. They have three sons, ages 6, 4, and 1. Somehow, even with the demands of being a parent to two little boys, she finds time to escape to her fantasies and write them down.

Author Links: 
Instagram: emilycyrauthor

June Round Up

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

This was the month in which we had a mini-heat wave, with temperatures soaring to the high 20’s/low 30’s degrees celsius. Since then we’ve had grey skies, howling winds and torrential downpours, because if there is one thing you can be certain of in Britain, it’s that you will get some weather!

It might be a national obsession, but I’m currently looking at a November sky on a summer day. I’ve been led to believe that it is mainly due to us being an island. Large land masses heat up and cool down slowly, so the changes in weather are much more gradual. My brother certainly experienced that when he lived in Europe for 10 years.

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on

In June I read twenty one books, though for two I ended up skim reading some parts. I also had a DNF. Nineteen books were read from cover to cover, or whatever the e-reader equivalent of that is. 0 – 100% perhaps? There was also some beta reading mixed in at various points through the month.

Arc Reads – (I went on to buy 5 of these books.)

DNF – see post on consent for reasons why!

Personal Choice Reads

Beta and Arc read that I also bought

I published 68 posts, my most popular of which was one about consent in books, which can be found here.

My average rating for June was 3.7, which is perhaps a little high. However I also had a larger number than normal of ‘choice’ not ‘commitment’ reads.

This was made up of –
6 books with 5 stars
2 books with 4.5 stars
5 books with 4 stars
2 books with 3.5 stars
3 books with 3 stars
3 books with 2 stars
1 book with 1 star

Release Blitz & Giveaway // Genes

Title: GENES (International Sensory Assassin Network Book 3)

Author: Mary Ting

Genre: YA Dystopian

Cover Reveal: Michael James Canales
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

A picture containing book, text, man

Description automatically generated

Allegiances will be tested.
Identities will be revealed.
No one is safe.

While searching for the HelixB88 anti-serum on the black market, Ava uncovers valuable intel that may help the rebels in their fight to bring down ISAN—the location of a hidden facility. But first, the insurgents must find the female citizens unexpectedly displaying powers without use of the Helix serum before ISAN captures them.

As the rebels join forces with other sectors, ISAN plans their destruction by using someone they don’t suspect at the rebel home base. A traitor within.

Now, Ava must make a dangerous decision, one that could risk their capture—or worse.

Book Links: 





Rafflecopter Link:

A person smiling for the camera

Description automatically generated

Author Bio:
Mary is an international bestselling, award-winning author. She writes soulful, spellbinding stories that excite the imagination and captivate readers around the world. Her books span a wide range of genres, and her storytelling talents have earned a devoted legion of fans, as well as garnered critical praise.

Becoming an author happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she had in high school. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, Mary retired from teaching after twenty years. She also had the privilege of touring with the Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book: No Bullies Allowed.

Mary resides in Southern California with her husband, two children, and two little dogs, Mochi and Mocha. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Being a huge Twilight fan, Mary was inspired to make book-themed jewelry and occasionally gives it away as prizes to her fans.

Author Links: 
Reader Group:

Told from Rhett’s point of you.
If Ava could see herself, the sight would have stopped her cold. Even Rhett was afraid. The hair on his arm rose. His goosebumps had goosebumps.

Ava had absorbed Mia’s energy. Blue light zapped and crackled not only through her, but around her like an electric storm. She became the lightning and wind, uplifting everything around her. The ground shook, walls trembled, and lightbulbs popped like gunshots. Centered in the brilliant phenomenon, she was Mother Nature about to unleash her wrath.

“Holy mother of all mothers.” Ozzie’s jaw slackened. “Do you see what I see, Rhett?”

“Yes,” Rhett said with a grim smile. “That’s my girl. I hope she gives them hell.” 

Mia stood her ground. Rhett gave her credit for courage but she was a fool. Rhett knew Ava would make the right choice, so he didn’t try to stop her. 

“Well, what’s it going to be, Mia?” Ava’s voice sounded as grand as her display of powers.

Rhett was learning something new about Ava every time she pushed herself, though he worried she might burst. He had no idea how her ability worked.

“I’m not going to apologize, you freak.”

Oh, no. She did not just say that.

“Uh oh.” Ozzie crouched lower. “Ava hates that word.”

Four massage tables zoomed across the room at a flick of Ava’s finger, boxing in the girls. 

“Like this is going to stop me. Pathetic,” Mia spat. 

Mia didn’t know when to quit. Ava didn’t want to hurt her, but she kept punching Ava with insults. Rhett had to do something.

Ava’s hands trembled. Her body was shutting down.

“No, they weren’t intended to hurt you, and they certainly won’t hold you in.” Ava shook her thin shoulders. “That was a distraction—this will do the damage.” Ava flicked her index finger. A metal tray flew off the counter like a rocket and collided with Mia’s face, knocking her head to the table. “The table is to break your fall, idiot. I was being generous. What about you, Ella? Want to walk with me or be carried out like your friend?”

Ella blanched and softened her stance, giving the impression of compliance. Her voice squeaked like a frightened mouse. “I was going to cooperate. I swear I was. I’ll walk.” 

Poor girl. She shook with her arms crossed over her midsection.

The door slid open.

“Why are you all wet? What happened here?” Naomi cursed, her eyes darting around the wrecked room. “Are you guys okay?”

Ozzie pointed to Ava, gawking at her as if she was a goddess. “She did it. It was pretty awesome.”

Tamara laughed. “I should have been here earlier to see it all. The sounds did not do it justice.”

Reyna smoothed a hand over her face. “We’re in so much trouble. Zen’s not going to like this. It’s a good thing this room had no windows.”

“Well, at least we’re all going down together.” Rhett planted a kiss on his girl and supported her with an arm around her waist. When she’d stopped the bullets at Mitch’s apartment, she’d fainted. “You okay?”

Rhett gripped her shaky hand. So cold. All the warmth flushed out of her when Helix had diminished or had burned out. Or however her power worked.

“Yeah. Just a little lightheaded. At least I didn’t black out. I got a little carried away.”

“A little. Just a little.” Rhett chuckled to lighten the mood.

“Are you and Oz okay?” She examined him. “You’re wet.”

“Oz and I are fine. Do you want a change of clothes? We could try to find—”

“No. Let’s get out of here.”

Rhett was worried about her. How much could her body take? 

Ava had practiced every spare second. Anyone else would be wiped out, but maybe someone like her didn’t need a lot of time to recover. If Helix could replenish her quickly, then perhaps it was all good.

“Come on. Someone want to help me drag this lunatic?” Ozzie’s shoes squeaked and squashed through two inches of water as he headed toward Mia. “Yup, Zen is going to flip out. Can we pretend it didn’t happen? Or do one of you girls have the power to put everything back together? Why can’t I have that kind of power? Why am I talking and nobody is answering me?”

“‘Cause you talk too much, Ozwald.” Rhett grabbed Mia’s other arm and hauled her up with Ozzie’s help.

Ozzie’s mouth scrunched together into a pout. “Ozzie. It’s Ozzie or Oz.”

How Rhett loved to mess with him, and Rhett knew Ozzie liked it, too, since he did the same to Rhett. It was the way they were. 

Told from Ava’s point of view.

“Go,” I said to Reyna. 

I shot one of the newbies with my Taser just as she aimed her weapon at Reyna. Ozzie shot the other one.

The newbies dropped and convulsed. Two down, three to go.

“Oz, go,” I ordered, but I heard a swish in the air, one after the other. Not the sound of Taser pellets, but something far more dangerous. A rain of bullets.

We jumped apart to dodge them.

Thanks to Helix, I heard Payton command Justine to put her gun down because Novak wanted me alive. 

“Ava. Get Oz.”

Reyna’s panicked voice sliced through me like a razor blade. I whirled to find Ozzie hanging by one hand off the roof. His fingers were slipping. My pulse lurched, and I acted without another thought.

“Oz. Hold on.” I grabbed his arm and hauled him up halfway.

I pushed a button on his belt and flung the hook around the rope, a few yards from us and set him free. Ozzie’s eyes were thankful, and then full of concern as he soared backward.

Knowing Novak wanted me alive gave me an advantage. It also meant he knew I wouldn’t die from HelixB88 and had only meant to kill Brooke. Sadistic psycho.

All right, Justine. I can play, too.

“Justine, you should teach your soldiers some manners. Don’t they know not to shoot unless you give the order?” I clucked my tongue. “Oh, wait. You’re not the lead. You were so sure of yourself. What happened? Did your daddy deem you incompetent and unfit, like the rest of us did?”

“Shut up. Shut up.” Justine materialized out of the shadows and fired a Taser, unwisely abandoning her shield.

With exact aim, I countered each pellet coming toward me with one of my own. They collided like mini fireworks. Finally, she stopped.

“How can you do that without Helix?” she snarled. “And how are you alive? What about Brooke? I hope she’s dead.”

It took every fiber of my willpower not to attack, but I had the rock and time was running out. 

Don’t take the bait, Ava. Keep it together. Think of Brooke.

“She’s not dead. So you can give your daddy my regards.”

“Payton, do something,” Justine screamed. “Don’t just stand there.”

Payton, who seemed to have frozen when he saw me, at last held up his Taser in a trembling hand. “You’re surrounded, Ava. Your team is on another roof. You have no help.” Payton inched closer, his two-member troop left beside him. “ISAN guards are waiting for you below. They have your glider surrounded and the kids.”

His words sounded rehearsed, or maybe it was nerves.

Had he said, kids?

He might be playing me, but how would he know about Momo and her friends? Hopefully Rhett would …

No, no time. I had to solve the situation now.

“Fine.” I looked over my shoulder at my crew and then back to Payton. “I’ll surrender peacefully if you let my friends go.”

“No, Ava,” Naomi bellowed.

I ignored her. She was new to our band and didn’t understand I would never yield unless my teams’ lives were at stake. And they were not.

“Put your Taser down, Ava.” Justine could have fried an egg on her bright red face. 

From her toothy grimace, she didn’t know whether to gloat or sulk. Perhaps both. 

I dropped my Taser and stood there with my arms crossed. “Come and get me.”

“That’s Ava? The Ava?” The pretty-faced newbie’s voice cracked with fear as she approached.

The three assassins came in a straight line.

Justine glared at the newbie. “Shut up, Tessa. She’s not unbeatable. She’s not God.” 

“Wait.” I raised a hand.

“Why?” Payton’s fist went up and halted his unit.

I yawned and stretched my arms to the cloudy sky. “For this. You never knew about Tamara’s hobby, did ya? She never misses.”

I had given Tamara instructions in case of such an incident. Never hurts to over-plan.

Two daggers tore through the air from the other roof. One speared the newbie’s biceps with a fountain of blood, and the second skewered Payton’s hand, knocking his Taser over the edge. Both clutched their bleeding wounds while Justine’s eyes widened.

“Don’t piss me off again or I’ll ask them to target you next time. And this is for Brooke.” 

Willing the strength of Helix, I sprinted to Justine and landed a solid punch in her face. Bone cracked like a beautiful song, and then she smashed into the stairway wall, leaving an imprint in the cracked cement before she flopped down.

I flew across the rope, my squad cheering blissfully in my ears. But my satisfaction died when I spotted the few dozen ISAN guards Payton had mentioned below. 

It seemed Novak didn’t trust Payton’s unit to bring me in. And Payton’s words had been no bluff. Or maybe he’d been warning me.

Payton, whose side are you on?