J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “novel”

Spotlight – Loving You

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Hamza Ali is ready to get married, fall in love and live happily ever after. The only problem is, he’s about to marry one woman but falls in love with another… So how will he find his happily ever after?
After watching his brother’s disastrous love marriage fall to pieces, Hamza decides that the only marriage for him is an arranged one. In Mahrukh, his family finds him the perfect bride. But while Mahrukh may be the perfect bride, it’s her divorced aunt Noorain who is the perfect woman for him.
Noorain Alam has never loved or been loved. Until the day her niece gets engaged to a man who is completely out of her reach and yet, he’s everything she never knew she wanted.
Blindsided by the strength of emotion they feel for each other, Noorain and Hamza find themselves in a battle for their happiness. But will love win? Or will family and duty stand in its way?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com

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Read an Excerpt from Loving You

The last thing Hamza Ali wanted, was to be late. But given the traffic and his own state of mind, he knew that it was a foregone conclusion. He just had to grit his teeth and bear it, even as he tamped down on the anxiety spiralling inside. 

His phone rang and he answered it on Bluetooth, knowing that Ammi was frantic with worry. 

‘I know, I know…’ he said in a placating manner. 

‘They’re already here!’ Ammi said in a loud whisper. 

‘I’m on my way, Ammi. I’ll be there in another fifteen minutes,’ he said. 

‘Fifteen minutes?’ Ammi yelped. ‘But…’ 

‘I’m driving. I’ll reach sooner if I’m not talking to you.’ Saying so, he disconnected the call and focused on reaching home. 

Today, of all days he had a presentation that ran late. He’d tried to explain to his boss that he needed to be home early but of course that hadn’t been possible. Kannan didn’t like to listen to excuses or anything personal when work was involved and Hamza knew better than to tell him the real reason he needed to be home early today. 

People were coming to see him. 

Yes. A girl’s family actually. He had told Ammi that he was ready for marriage and it would be a good idea if she started looking for potential brides for him. Ammi had been only too pleased to comply. 

His twin brother Hamdaan thought he was being an unnecessary martyr by opting for an arranged marriage. 

‘What would you know?’ Hamza snapped at him, annoyed. Hamdaan had a love marriage and then, when that fell through, he had an arranged marriage where he fell deeply in love with his wife Ghazal. 

This just convinced him that not everyone was cut out for a grand love affair and anyway, this was what his parents wanted. He wanted to give them that happiness. At the cost of your own, Hamdaan asked. 

‘What guarantee is there that a love marriage will be better?’ Hamza asked him. Hamdaan nodded. 

‘I know, but…’

‘And you did have an arranged marriage with Ghazal and you two seem to be just fine,’ he reminded him. 

‘Well, that’s because I got incredibly lucky,’ Hamdaan commented, a smile on his face as he thought of his wife probably. 

Hamza glanced at his face in the rear-view mirror at a traffic signal and sighed. There wasn’t going to be any time to even wash his face, let alone shower, if the girl’s family had already reached home. Ammi had been slightly put out when she heard that they wanted to vet him first, and if he was a good enough candidate, she and Ghazal Bhabhi could go and see the girl and take things forward. 

‘That’s how everyone does it these days,’ the broker aunty informed Ammi. The broker aunty who brought the rishta was a fascinating specimen, with her smartphone full of biodatas and photos of potential brides and bridegrooms. Hamza had looked at her paraphernalia, eyes wide that day when she wanted to ‘see’ him before finding the right rishta. 

‘First they see the boy and if he’s good, then you can see the girl. That way, the girl is not unnecessarily exposed, na?’ she asked, moving the paan she’d been chewing, around inside her mouth. 

‘Fine, Arifa Apa. Whatever you say,’ Ammi said. 

Now, he felt the slightest bit of apprehension inside when he wondered about this stranger who could possibly become a part of his life soon. But he had wanted this, right? In fact, he had gone on to convince Hamdaan to get married again so that it would clear the way for him to get married. 

His phone rang again. 

‘Ammi,’ he groaned out aloud but then saw that it wasn’t his mother but it was Ghazal. 

‘Yes, Bhabhi,’ he answered as the car moved forward in the traffic finally. It felt odd, calling her Bhabhi since she was so much younger than him but it added to the decorum and formality in their relationship, which was something he liked. 

‘How far away from home are you?’ she asked softly.

‘Around ten minutes, tops,’ he said. 

‘Okay, so don’t park in front of the house. Park behind, and I’ll be waiting near the kitchen door. You can hop inside from there and freshen up in your room, Hamza Bhai,’ she said. 

‘Oh. Oh thank god!’ he muttered, feeling slightly better. 

‘Don’t thank me yet. Ammi is having kittens and puppies and she won’t rest easy until you’re here,’ Ghazal said. 

‘You hold her off, Bhabhi!’ he said as he stepped down on the accelerator to reach home as soon as he could. 

Twenty minutes later, he emerged from his room, his face still shiny with water droplets. He took the towel from Ghazal gratefully and scrubbed his face and she winced. 

‘It’s your face. Not a dirty vessel and Scotch Brite,’ she admonished him as she took the towel from his hands. 

Ammi didn’t know that he was back home yet and she looked at him surprised when she came out from the kitchen, just as he was tucking his shirt inside properly. He had barely had a chance to look at himself in the mirror and he was worried about making the wrong sort of impression but Ghazal assured him that he looked fine. 

‘When did you…where were…’ she trailed off. 

‘Ask Bhabhi,’ he said with a smile as he kissed his mother soundly on her cheek. She did some nazar utarofy thing for him and smiled at Ghazal, even as she put her hand on her chest. 

‘Go now,’ she said. Nodding, he walked into the living room where Hamdaan and Abba were speaking to the men who had come to see him. 

‘Sorry, I’m a bit late,’ Hamza said as he walked up and shook hands with the three men who stood up when they saw him. 

The men looked from Hamdaan to him and one of them smiled. ‘Amazing how much you two look alike,’ he said. 

Hamza nodded and then, his father indicated that he should sit down on the sofa. The men all sat down and they started talking. 

The mad pounding in his chest finally eased down enough and he almost relaxed until he remembered why he was here. 

The middle-aged man in the centre, wearing the white shirt with black stripes, left untucked was apparently the bride’s father. He wore a namaz topi on his head and he had a beard. Hamza smiled at him as he spoke, but he was instantly curious about the girl’s family and what sort of person she was. 

He also didn’t know her name yet. A droplet of sweat trickled down his back in a straight line when he realised the enormity of what he was getting into. He didn’t even know the name of the girl he was willing to marry, let alone what she looked like. And somehow, he felt that if he asked her name, it would put him and his family on the back foot. He should have asked Ghazal, he realised. 

‘Have some tea,’ one of the men offered to him and he nodded. He leaned forward and picked up a tea cup and his gaze met his brother’s, who lifted an eyebrow sardonically. 

The two of them were connected intrinsically, as they were twins and there were times when they could have a complete non-verbal exchange between them and no one would be the wiser. 

You asked for this.

Hamza nodded slightly and he looked up at his brother defiantly. Yeah. So what?

Just wondering if you know what you’re getting into.

Shut up. 

Hamdaan hid his smile as he sipped his tea and mentally, Hamza flipped him off but responded to the questions being asked of him. 

When the ordeal was finally over, the three men got up and shook hands with him once more. They shook hands with Hamdaan and the bride’s father even hugged Abba as they left. 

‘Satisfied?’ Hamdaan turned to him as soon as the men departed. 

‘Yes,’ Hamza said, rolling his eyes. Abba returned just then before the two of them could get into an argument. 

‘They’ve asked us to come and see the girl tomorrow,’ Abba announced, a smile on his face. ‘Your Ammi and Ghazal will be going.’

Hamza’s heart pounded again. It was finally happening. 

‘What’s her name?’ he asked and Hamdaan gave a short laugh. 

‘Not one person back in college would have believed you to be capable of this,’ he said. 

‘Of what? And you wouldn’t know since you didn’t study with me,’ Hamza retorted. 

‘Her name is Mahrukh,’ Ghazal said softly as she came into the living room. Hamdaan beamed at her as she went and sat down beside him. One of the girls who worked in the house followed her and she collected the tea cups and deposited them on the tray. 

‘Like Shahrukh?’ Hamza asked sceptically. 

Ammi chuckled. ‘No. Mahrukh is a girl’s name. It means someone who looks like the moon.’

‘It’s a beautiful name,’ Ghazal assured him. 

And what of the girl, he wondered. Was she beautiful too? 


About the Author:

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Andaleeb Wajid is the author of 27 published novels and she writes across different genres such as romance, YA and horror. Her horror novel It Waits was shortlisted at Mami Word to Screen 2017 and her Young Adult series, The Tamanna Trilogy has been optioned for screen by a reputed production house. Andaleeb’s novel When She Went Away was shortlisted for The Hindu Young World Prize in 2017. Andaleeb is a hybrid author who has self-published more than 10 novels in the past two years.

Andaleeb on the Web:
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Spotlight – Midnight’s Star

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Visually impaired author and current flavour of the Indian literary scene, Dev Arya, has not just triumphed against the odds in his life, he’s annihilated them. He’s got fame, fortune and floozies in abundance. And yet, he’s lonely.

Cafe owner and only child to her differently abled father, Avni Desai is broke, heartbroken and a true survivor. But no matter how hard she hustles, she’s still struggling to stay afloat.

And then, one day, Dev walks into her cafe… and everything changes for both of them. From excellent tiramisu to earshattering singing, from dramatic friends to accident prone sexcapades, they embark on the ride of a lifetime. 

Will it all be worth it though? Will two broken souls find a way to heal each other? Or do the fractures go so deep that there is no way for either of them to find the love they so deeply crave and yet can’t seem to have?

Book Link:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com

Read an Excerpt from Midnight’s Star

The bell tinkled again and a pretty young girl in a peach salwar kameez walked in. She went straight to the hottie by the window.

“Dev?” she asked.

“Nisha, I presume?” He smiled up at her.

My breath caught. My God, the man was lethal. Peach salwar looked similarly dazzled. She fumbled for the chair in front of her and sat down like her legs had given out. I didn’t blame her. That smile must have leveled everyone in the vicinity.

Checking that Diana and Sehar had things under control with the drink on the floor fiasco, I walked up to the hottie’s table and held out a menu to the girl.

“Would you both care to order?”

She took the menu and held it out to him. “Would you like to choose first?”

Hottie just looked back at her, his hands folded in front of him. “I’m afraid you’ll have to read it out to me. Unless,” he tilted his perfect profile in my direction. “You have a Braille menu?”

“I’m sorry.” I flushed. “We don’t but I can read the menu out to you if you require?”

“A Braille menu?” Peach Salwar frowned. “Why do we need that?”

My pen froze over my order pad. I darted a cautious look between the two. Hotties lips tightened.

“Your family didn’t tell you?” he asked.

“Tell me what?”

Okay. Peach Salwar was a little dumb. I started to slowly back away.

Hottie pulled his dark glasses off and looked at her. “That I’m blind.”

He had ink dark eyes framed by the most gorgeous thicket of eyelashes. This man’s looks would have made angels weep in heaven.

I wanted to weep. I wasn’t entirely sure why but the tears were filling quite rapidly in my own normal, average looking eyes.

“Blind?” Peach Salwar breathed. “You’re blind.”

If his lips tightened anymore, they would disappear from view completely. All around us, the café was silent. It seemed even the air held its breath.

He slipped the dark glasses on and held up his very snazzy looking cane. “Even if your family didn’t tell you, surely you didn’t miss my accessories?” The bitter note had something twinging in my heart.

“I can’t,” she quavered. “I can’t do this.”

What was this exactly?

“I can’t marry a handicapped person.”

Oh. It was that.

The man didn’t move. All around us, people stared, nobody dared make a noise.

Finally, he nodded. “I understand.”

Wordlessly, Peach Salwar stood up, shoved her chair aside and ran from the café like he was going to keep her there by force.

“Wow,” Diana breathed from behind me. “That was crazier than one of my scripts.”

It had been a really long day. My feet hurt. My head hurt. My heart hurt.

And yet…

I walked up to where he sat all alone staring at the table in front of him. He either heard my footsteps or sensed my presence because without looking up, he said, “I don’t think I’ll be ordering anything. I’m sorry.”

“My tiramisu is exceptional.” I righted the chair Peach Salwar had toppled in her hurry to leave and sat down in it. “Would you like to share one with me? On the house?”

“Feeling sorry for me, are you?” His smile was bitter and seemed to echo the pain in my heart.

“You and me both,” I said, frankly. “I’ve had a bad day too.”

“I doubt whatever happened to you is half as humiliating as this just was.”

“My boyfriend of five years and partner in this café just got engaged to someone else. I found out on Instagram.”

His head whipped up. I knew he couldn’t see and yet, that gaze seemed to look right through me.

“Okay. You win. But I want my own tiramisu. I don’t like to share.”

About the Author:

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Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:
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Book Blitz Pack – Insincerely Yours by Manasi Singh

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All Ray wanted was to have some fun. Little did she know that what began as a harmless midnight adventure would soon end up being the most terrifying night of her life.

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Shuttling back and forth between the States and whichever obscure Indian town her civil servant father was transferred to, Atreya ‘Ray’ Sen’s life has always been on the move. When she comes down to sleepy old Visakhapatnam and befriends Mira, Ray hopes she could be a successful means of whiling away her summer. When Mira invites her to a late-night adventure with Mira’s boyfriend and his pals, Ray jumps at the chance for some excitement. When one of the boys suggests they take a detour to one of Vizag’s most famous haunted houses, the night takes a turn for the dark. The spirit of a mean old man seems to be following them, killing them off one by one.

A near-death experience reveals to Ray that she is the only one who can bring peace to him. Now, Ray must race against time to find a way to save her family and friends, or else the once-peaceful town of Vizag would witness a bloodbath like never before.

An old Victorian mansion with a dark history…a spirit with a vengeance…a girl with no memory of her past…

Will Ray be able to stop the killings in time? Or will she be left with no friends and no family yet again?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com


Real Life Incident that inspired Insincerely Yours

In the words of Stephen King, we make up horrors to cope with the real ones. But what if the horrors written is a part of reality? What if the tale is written not just as fiction, but as a memoir to the unexplained that occurred years ago, yet bears fresh imprints in mind? 

When I sat down to write this story, I had to resurrect memories from my college days, from that fateful night, when my friends and I had decided to have our own little late-night adventure. Back then, we were just stupid college freshmen who didn’t have a care in the world, who would go lengths for cheap thrills from the world of the supernatural. Here, I bring you the real-life story that inspired me to write Insincerely Yours. 

Our night started on the cliché note of being cold and stormy. We had found our source for horror stories: our friend Vishnu. Vishnu would always keep us at the edge of our seats with his storytelling, and that evening was no different. We had assembled in a circle around him, drinks in our hands, when he started telling us about the legendary haunted house that stood proud just off the path to the beach in Vizag. As the story goes, the house belonged to a retired colonel and his family. They kept to themselves, but the neighbors often complained of yelling and fighting coming in the evenings. One night, the house fell silent, and the neighbors saw an eerie glow emanate from the windowpanes. When they went over in the morning to check, they found that the Colonel’s family had disappeared overnight. The house was still as is, sans the family that had once lived in it. Nobody knows where they went, and the watchman claimed he never saw anyone leave the house. Their mysterious disappearance gave rise to the stories that the house is haunted. 

Scoffing at his words, my friends and I decided to check it out for ourselves. So off we went, Shreya, Swetank, Vishnu and I, on a drunken midnight visit to the famous haunted house. The house had a sinister look to it, with the front lawn stretching before us, coated with dried grass, exactly how I chose to describe in the book. Inside, the house looked like someone had lived here years ago, and had suddenly just chosen to walk out. The place oozed with a cold vibe, and I wasn’t the only one who felt it. We decided to explore the house a little, and each room creeped us out a little more than the next. Most of the belongings of the house had turned to debris owing to a cyclone that had wreaked havoc in Vizag a year ago, but there was one room that had managed to stay intact. Intrigued, we stepped in bravely, and immediately, we felt helpless. It was like the place had sucked the happiness out of our lives as a blanket of depression descended on us. We saw muddy footprints going towards the bathroom, and opened the door to find the room painted in vantablack, the darkest color known to humanity, often the sign of evil. The room started feeling like it was sucking the energy out of us, slowly as it grew. Swetank, being the most sensible of us, insisted we get some fresh air at the balcony we had seen on our way into the room. At the balcony, we felt the sudden weight the room had given us lift off us, and we slowly relaxed into conversation. In the entire time we were in that house, I kept getting this feeling that someone was watching us. As we were talking, I felt something move from the corner of my eye, and turned towards the balcony door, where I saw five shadows. Four was of us standing in the balcony, but one was coming from inside the house. As I turned around quickly to see if anyone else had noticed, I saw Swetank looking pale as a sheet. We saw the shadow stay for a few seconds, and it suddenly disappeared, vanishing. At this point, Swetank and I ushered the other two out of the house, and made a run for it. All we knew was that the old Victorian mansion housed something that was pure evil, so dark that even one hour in that place had left us feeling soulless for days after. Swetank and I promised then and there that we would never meddle with forces outside of our control ever again, but as you all know, promises are meant to be broken.   


About the Author:

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Manasi Singh is a lawyer, graduated from one of the top law schools in India in 2019. Lawyer by day and reader by night, Manasi always had a lot of stories to share, which she did by publishing short stories and articles in newspapers, magazines and journals. In 2019, she began writing short snippets on social media under the name “The Vanilla Writer”, shortly after which she published her first novel “As Fates Would Have It”, which was received warmly by readers of all ages. Manasi is a firm believer in art and creativity not being restrained in any way, which is why she writes short stories, fiction novels, screenplays for short films, and much more.

Manasi on the Web:
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Another Five Star Review For A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I recently received another five star review from Ms. Betty Rose. Thank you so much, Betty, for your review!

From United Kingdom

Betty Rose5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling story of the American Civil war.

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 May 2021

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via Voracious readers Only.
It was the title that drew my attention initially, and when I read on further, I decided I would try a read about the American Civil War, I’m so glad I did.


It was a wonderful read and it was obvious the author had been meticulous with her research.
Once through the first chapter I was hooked, couldn’t put it down.


A beautiful Glittering Lie tells an exciting, heart-warming story without sparing some of the realities of war.
it’s well written and the characters became very real to me.
Loved it.

Book Tour – The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancee

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A scandal-averse Maharaja.
A free-spirited actress.
What do you get when throw them together and add a fake engagement to the mix?
Depending on whom you ask, you either get a match made-in-heaven or a royal disaster.

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Nivy Sharma knows exactly what she needs – the freedom to be herself and follow her passion. Guess what she doesn’t need? A tailor-made husband.
When her meddlesome mother tries to throw her into the arms of a mom-approved suitor, Nivy runs the other way.
Right into the arms of the man who shattered her heart.
His Highness Veerendra Singh can recognise a pain-in-the-ass when he sees it. Especially when it falls into his arms.
Even if said pain-in-the-ass has legs that go on forever and lush lips that just beg to be kissed, Veer vows to run the other way. As he did once before…
But, when the marriage-minded princess of Tejpur sets her sights on him, Veer runs back into Nivy’s arms to propose a fake engagement.
When ‘fake’ starts to feel very real, Nivy and Veer have to decide what is important… long-held prejudices or the chance for a life with the only person they’ve ever loved.

Will this be their second chance at love or will their broken past ruin their hope for a shared future? 

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com

Read an Excerpt from The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancée

NIVY


There was a soft knock at the door, and Munshi Ji entered, with a trolley containing three cups, a big pot of black coffee, milk, sugar and a huge plate of chunky chocolate chip cookies. 

He served us our coffee and just then, Veer walked in. 

“Pour me a cup too, Munshi Ji,” he ordered. 

I avoided Jessie’s amused gaze and smiled at Veer. He smiled back at me. We kept smiling at each other until we were pelted with bits of chocolate chip cookies. 

As one, we turned to glare at Jessie who was doubled over with laughter. 

“Would you miss your sister if I pushed her out of the window?” I asked with narrowed eyes. 

“Not at all,” replied Veer, promptly. 

Jessie ignored my threat and smiled innocently at Veer. 

“Veer, do you have any plans for dinner?” 

He shrugged. 

“No. Why?” 

“Because Anika wanted to dine with you guys today. Just you, her and Nivy.” 

I choked on a cookie crumb. 

“What! Why?” I yelped, while Veer stared at Jessie in horror. 

“She wants to get to know you better. I think she just wants to mess with Nivy, though. Have fun,” she said, sweetly. 

“I’m not hungry,” I announced. 

“You will be, by dinner time,” she replied. 

“Not if I go on a fast. Don’t you royals have all sorts of weird customs? I’m sure we can find some obscure text that says that the Maharaja’s fake fiancée can’t eat anything until she does some sort of penance,” I said, grasping for straws. 

“I think dinner with Anika is penance enough,” said Jessie, with a laugh. 

That girl was enjoying my misery far too much. I snarled under my breath as I tried to think of a way out. 

“Alright. I’d like to borrow the Devgarh sword please,” I begged. 

Veer shook his head. 

“While I’d love to see you swing it at Anika, you can’t. It’s too heavy. Your delicate arms wouldn’t even be able to lift it off the wall,” he said regretfully. 

“Can I pay you to swing it on my behalf?” 

“A true Rajput doesn’t raise his hand to a woman, even if he’s convinced that said woman is actually a chudail in disguise,” he said softly. 

Something went melty in the region of my heart, but I ignored it stoutly. 

“Umm, if you guys could stop making sheep eyes at each other, I have a solution,” suggested the pain in our collective asses. 

“And you let me go on and on about the Devgarh sword?” I snapped at her. 

“It was funny,” she said with an uncaring shrug. 

Veer held me back as I lunged at his sister. 

“What solution, Jess?” he asked, running a soothing hand down my back. 

I allowed him to lead me to the bay window, and we sat down together. I acted as if I couldn’t feel his hand holding mine. 

Jessie stared at our joined hands pointedly for a second and then started talking. 

“You could take Nivy out for dinner,” she suggested. 

◆◆◆ 

VEER 


“Done,” he replied. 

Jessie stood up with a squeal. 

Veer refused to analyse why he’d agreed so promptly. He was just trying to keep Nivy out of Anika’s way. It had nothing to do with the fact that he wanted to spend as much time as he could with this maddening girl before she went back to Mumbai and forgot all about him. And it had absolutely nothing to do with how right her hand felt wrapped around his. 

“Veer, I’m not sure this is such a great idea,” Nivy whispered. 

“It’s better than spending time with Anika,” he whispered back. 

“But…” 

“It’s not a real date, just a pretend one. Think of it as two friends sharing a meal,” he said, with his fingers crossed behind his back. 

“Fine,” she conceded. 

Jessie clapped her hands. 

“I’ll make all the arrangements. You guys just go and have fun,” she said, skipping out of the room. 

“Jessie, wait,” he called, but his sister had already left. 

Veer turned to Nivy in confusion. 

“Why is she making arrangements for our date?” 

“Date? I thought it was just two friends sharing a meal?” she asked with her arms crossed over her chest. 

Veer grinned at the sceptical look on her face. 

“Of course, it is,” he said as innocently as he could. 

She looked so adorable when she scrunched her nose disbelievingly that he was tempted to kiss the tip of it. Of course, if he did give in to that impulse, she’d punch him in his nose, so he finished his coffee in one gulp and set the cup down. 

“Ring the bell when you want all this to be cleared,” he said and left the room before he did something stupid.

Meet the Author:

Alisha Kay is a Delhi based writer, who writes romances set in India.

She doesn’t hold with the concept of damsel-in-distress, which is why her heroines are spunky women with a sharp tongue and the ability to rescue themselves. Her heroes are hot men who are woke enough to find that independence irresistible. 

The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancée is Alisha’s first book.
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Cover Reveal – Midnight’s Star

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Visually impaired author and current flavour of the Indian literary scene, Dev Arya, has not just triumphed against the odds in his life, he’s annihilated them. He’s got fame, fortune and floozies in abundance. And yet, he’s lonely.

Cafe owner and only child to her differently abled father, Avni Desai is broke, heartbroken and a true survivor. But no matter how hard she hustles, she’s still struggling to stay afloat.

And then, one day, Dev walks into her cafe… and everything changes for both of them. From excellent tiramisu to earshattering singing, from dramatic friends to accident prone sexcapades, they embark on the ride of a lifetime. 

Will it all be worth it though? Will two broken souls find a way to heal each other? Or do the fractures go so deep that there is no way for either of them to find the love they so deeply crave and yet can’t seem to have?

Book Link:
Goodreads

Releasing on 28th May!

About the Author:

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Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter

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Book Blitz – Beneath the Lies

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A saga of Forgotten Love and Second Chances

How would you feel when the man you have known and loved for the last five years is not who he said he was? That everything he ever told you was all a lie.

An accident changed our lives forever and now I have to bring him back to us because he doesn’t remember our life, our family or us. One minute, I was just a regular girl from India married to a man she loved, and the next, my life has changed completely because I’m married to an English Duke, who doesn’t remember me.

My name is Aaliya Singh Talbot and I will do whatever it takes to bring my husband back from the darkness and into the light.

I will make him remember no matter what I have to do!

I will make him remember everything – beneath all the lies!

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Read an Excerpt from Beneath the Lies

Aaliya

Mumbai

Someone is screaming!


In a heartbeat, I know it’s me. I jerk awake and sit upright on my bed, my heart roaring against my ribcage. My hand trembles as I push my long hair back from my damp forehead. He can’t be dead; this was just a dream! I chant that thought while taking huge calming breaths. This is the third time this week I’ve woken up like this, feeling like he’s gone. The fact that I’ve lost all touch with him screams inside me that something is drastically wrong else he’d never be silent for this long; his phone would never be switched off like it has been this last week. I shut my eyes, anxiety weighing me down. How long should I convince myself there is a reason for his silence?


I grab the photo frame from my bedside table. It is a picture of Damien and I from our honeymoon. His arm is around me and both of us are smiling into the camera, the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing behind us.


I run a finger along his face, tracing that bearded jaw, visualizing him in my mind’s eye. Those striking grey-green eyes that sparkle whenever they rest on me, that heart-stopping smile that almost always makes me melt. I miss him! I miss being tucked under his chin when he hugs me. I miss his scent and I miss how his strong arms and tall frame wrap around me when we sleep, making me feel protected and cherished. This is the first time we’ve been separated for so long and perhaps that’s what is making me anxious. I shake my head. No, something is wrong. I can sense it. 


God! Please let him be safe, I pray.

Love is a strange yet powerful emotion that hit me when I least expected it and swept me off my feet without me even knowing it. And now, five years later, it is the faith I have in that love that makes me believe he would never leave me without contact—unless he was in trouble.


Fear for him slithers like a poisonous snake across my veins but I have to tamper it down because I have one more reason to remain sane, to stay anchored to the belief that Damien will be fine, no matter what. I breathe in deep, letting the familiar hum of the air conditioner soothe my nerves before I slide off the bed. My feet hit the cold marble floor and I head to the other bedroom where I tip toe inside. 


My darling little boy—an angel with his mouth open and a tiny hand clutching his rather overlong hair—is sleeping in his cot. A small smile skates across my lips and my heart warms as I stare at him for a moment before lifting him carefully and putting him on my shoulder. He wriggles for a moment but soon relaxes in my arms, his nose digging into the side of my neck. I inhale his soft, sweet fragrance, and shut my eyes for a few seconds. Rian is ten months old and the love of our lives. Reluctant to let go of him, I hold him for a second longer before I gently tuck him back in his cot and caress his beloved face, so similar to his father.


My cell phone rings and I run to my room, glancing at the clock that shows that it’s three in the morning. I pray fervently that it’s finally him calling. Please God, let that be my husband!


I lift the cell, scanning the caller id and my shoulders slump.


“Gabriel!” I breathe into the phone. “Where is Damien? It’s been a week since I heard from him. One whole week with his phone switched off and you giving me a different excuse each time I call. I’m scared, Gabe. You can’t even begin to imagine the thoughts running through my mind.” 


His silence only fuels my fear. 


“Gabe, please,” I plead. “Where is he?”


“Aaliya, he…he’s been in a car accident!”


“No! God, no!” I shudder. “Is he-”


I swallow against the pain in my throat and try again, because I need to know. “Is he fine? Please tell me he’s alive!”


“Aaliya, he’s fine. He was in a coma for a week. He’s just woken up now.”


“One week!” I gasp out. “Why didn’t you tell me?” 


Tears burn my eyes, threatening to spill over. “His trip to London was planned for two days not ten, Gabe. I’ve lived in terror this last week ever since I lost contact with him. You knew how worried I was and yet you fed me with one excuse after the other. How could you keep his accident from me? I deserved to know, Gabe.”


“Aaliya…”


“Don’t you dare try and placate me!” I yell, unable to hold it back any longer. “You should’ve called me the minute he was admitted to the hospital.”


“Aaliya, I’m sorry. I truly am!” His voice comes out broken. “This is hard for me too. I didn’t tell you because he told me to look after you and Rian first if anything happened to him. I never imagined that he’d meet with an accident so soon after. You may not understand this now, Aaliya, but I did this to protect you both.”


 “Protect us from what?” 


Gabe sighs. “How much do you know of the English aristocracy?”


My fist squeezes tighter around my phone. “I don’t care about the damn English aristocracy. Tell me about Damien. How is he?”


“Like I said, he’s fine now. He woke up a few hours ago. He’s injured his head, but he will be fine. There’s a lot to tell you, Aaliya. Damien hasn’t told you entirely who he was…is.”


“What do you mean, Gabe? Don’t talk to me in riddles. Besides, I know who he was…” I shake my head. “…he is. I know about his life in England. So, stop trying to tell me something else.”


I’ve known Gabriel Westcott for as long as I’ve known Damien, which is five years now. He is Damien’s best friend, his business partner and was his best man at our wedding. Since Damien was an orphan, Gabe was also the only person to attend from Damien’s side. This last week he’s given me one excuse after the other regarding the silence from Damien and now he’s feeding me some nonsense about my husband that I refuse to believe.


“Damn it, Aaliya. You need to listen to me!” Gabe shouts. “Damien is the second son of the Duke of Kittridge. He returned here to England ten days ago not on a business trip, like he told you, but because his father and brother died in a car crash. He came for their funeral and because of his new responsibility. Damien is now the Duke of Kittridge.”


“No!” I whisper, dropping down on the bed. “That can’t be true. He would have told me. No! I don’t believe you.”


“Google it. Now! It’s K I T T R I D G E.” 


He spells the word as I grab my laptop and open Google and type the letters. My eyes widen in shock. Oh my God! The cords in my neck strain as I stare at the images on the screen. There are dozens of pictures of Damien. He’s at a funeral. He’s with an older woman. Another picture shows him with his arm around a younger blonde woman, comforting her. Who are these women? What in the hell is going on? I read tweets on him.  


“The new Duke of Kittridge” 


“Missing son returns after five years” 


“The Devil Lord is now the Devil Duke”


The Internet has the whole history of Damien; it knows things I’ve never known. My Damien is not Damien Alexander, as I’ve always known him; he is Damien Alexander Talbot, now the Duke of Kittridge.


“How…how is this possible?” My voice trembles. “How could I have not known?”


“I will explain it all to you, Aaliya. But first, you need to come to London as soon as you can. Can you organize to leave Rian with someone for a few days?”


“I’ll bring him with me. Damien will want to see him.”


“Aaliya,” Gabe lowers his tone and my heartbeat accelerates yet again, “he doesn’t remember you. He has no memory of the last five years of his life, which includes Rian and you.”


Did he just say that? No! It can’t be true. But I know to the core of my being that it is true. This is why my instincts have been roaring at me since the last few days. My stomach plummets, the hollowness spreading through every inch of my body. A whimper escapes my mouth and I press a hand on my lips to stop myself from screaming.

About the Author:
Sapna Bhog is an author from India who writes contemporary and historical romance novels. As a self-proclaimed die-hard romantic, her books are filled with swoon-worthy heroes and feisty heroines who clash all the time, but do get their happy ever after. Sapna has always surrounded herself with books and when she is not writing she is reading. Originally from Dubai, she now lives in Western India with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky. Sapna gave up a successful IT career and took a foray into writing and has never looked back since. Her favourite pastimes are reading, writing, traveling and shopping—not necessarily in that order. She loves to hear from readers.

Sapna on the Web:
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New Developments

This past week, I received some recognition, which I would like to share. The first is this: I was chosen as the winner of the 2021 Best of Horn Lake Awards in the category of Book Publishers.

According to the award committee: “The Horn Lake Award Program was created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of businesses and organizations in and around Horn Lake. Our mission is to raise the profile of exemplary companies and entrepreneurs among the press, the business community, and the general public. 

“The Best of Horn Lake Award Program was created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of businesses and organizations in and around Horn Lake. Our mission is to raise the profile of exemplary companies and entrepreneurs among the press, the business community, and the general public. The selection process does not include nominations, voting, contests or surveys. The Award Program uses only empirical data supplied by independent third-parties as input into our award algorithm.

“Selection as a 2021 Award Winner is determined by the marketing success of your organization in your local community and business category. The Best of Horn Lake Award Program uses information gathered internally in conjunction with third-party data as a part of its selection process.”

The second is this: I was chosen to be featured on a new website called Shepherd. My book, Horses in Gray, is featured on the site. Here is the link: https://shepherd.com/best-books/civil-war-novels

It has been a crazy week in so many ways. Please follow and share! Thank you so much.

Release Day Blitz – Bovine Tricks

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About the Book:

Lady Annabelle Trask is missing. Unfortunately, MISix doesn’t know if they’re looking for a woman, a cow, or something in between!

Is it real or is it fantasy? That’s the question MISix Agent Mathilda Honoria Spencer struggles with on her latest assignment. Tasked with discovering the whereabouts of Lady Annabelle Trask, Tillie is thrust into the world of Hucows and other human animals. It’s a world that raises serious questions about sexual fetishes, intentional physical enhancements, and even pornography, but in the end, Tillie has only one mission—to rescue and return Lady Annabelle to the Queen. However, as she and her partner, Agent Abdul Ali, attempt to find Lady Annabelle and keep her out of the clutches of terrorists bent on destroying the monarchy, they must also wrestle with their feelings for each other. Can they draw the line between their duty to the Crown and their relationship with one another? Or must they embark on separate paths to continue to serve the Queen?


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Read an Excerpt from Bovine Tricks

Tillie’s face reddened. Suddenly, she felt quite queasy. She started to speak, but her superior held up his hand. 

“There’s more. This is a human-animal auction. It is not limited to Hucows. There will be Hupigs, Huhorses, and maybe even, Husheep. Fortunately, you are to focus on the cows. That is where we believe Lady Annabelle will be found.”

Tillie gazed at him. “What if she isn’t there? What if she has changed…er, species?”

“I suggest you cross that bridge when you come to it.”

“And what am I to do if I find Lady Annabelle? How do I extract her?”

“You purchase her at the auction. You have been given sufficient funds to bid up to one million Euros.”

Tillie’s eyes grew wide. “Criminy. That much?” 

Lord Ryder nodded. “These cows are well-trained and well-treated. The females are pampered—weekly manicures, hair treatments, and such. A happy cow is a happy milker, as they say.”

Tillie’s eyes widened. “Lady Annabelle could be there willingly? She is not necessarily a captive, forced be a Hucow?”

“Exactly. And that is our dilemma. While the Queen hopes that she is there willingly, several factors are at play. Lady Annabelle may have freely joined a farm to become a Hucow, or she may just have danced on the wild side and somehow wound up at auction. In the alternative, she may have been kidnapped and forced to become a Hucow, or she may have been forced and now enjoys the lifestyle. There are all sorts of reasons she could be there and all sorts of reasons she prefers to stay. Our only mission is to get her out.”

Tillie frowned. “Why would they put her up for auction? Isn’t that a way to get rid of unproductive or uncooperative cows?”

“Not necessarily. Some farms simply raise and train Hucows, then sell them. Given their going rate, it is a lucrative business. A great way to supplement the income from a regular farm. Human cows bring much more lucre than actual farm-raised cows.”

Tillie sighed. “For just one day, I would like to forget that there is a whole lot of people engaged in activities that far surpass my imagination.”

Lord Ryder’s mouth curved up into a wry smile. “Then we would be out of a job.”

Tillie tapped her jaw, considering. “You know, this might be a better job for the Yanks. They are a kinky bunch. I believe there was a recent study that found them to be the kinkiest country in the world.”


Lord Ryder snorted. “If you were the Queen, would you want that bunch of kinksters to know your relatives are participating in like behavior? Why their intelligence services would find a way to use it against us for decades.” He shook his head. “No. This we do alone.”



About Seelie Kay:

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Award-winning author Seelie Kay writes about lawyers in love, sometimes with a dash of kink.

Writing under a nom de plume, the former lawyer and journalist draws her stories from more than 30 years in the legal world. Seelie’s wicked pen has resulted in nineteen works of fiction, including the new paranormal romance series Donovan Trait, as well the erotic romance Kinky Briefs series and The Feisty Lawyers romantic suspense series. She also authored The Last Christmas, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The President’s Daughter, Seizing Hope, The White House Wedding, and participated in the romance anthology Pieces of Us.

When not spinning romantic tales, Seelie ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. Currently, she resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, WI, where she enjoys opera, the Green Bay Packers, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine. 

Seelie is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!

Seelie on the Web:
Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram * Author’s Amazon Page

Confederate Heritage Month

April has been signified as Confederate Heritage Month by many Southern states. The month is significant to the Southern cause in that the Civil War started and, for the most part, ended in April. In recognition, memorial services are held at Confederate cemeteries throughout the month. I have attended several of these ceremonies. They are poignant and beautiful remembrances of ancestors who suffered and died to protect their homes.

There were many atrocities that took place during the war. One of the worst was the conditions of Confederate POW camps. My novel, A Rebel Among Us, specifically discusses the conditions that took place at Elmira Prison Camp toward the end of the war.

PRIVATIONS, SUFFERING AND  DELIBERATE CRUELTIES 

“Starvation, literal starvation, was doing its  deadly work. So depleted and poisoned was the  blood of many of Lee’s men from insufficient and  unsound food that a slight wound which would  probably not have been reported at the beginning  of the war would often cause blood-poison,  gangrene, and death. 

Yet the spirits of these brave men seemed to rise as their condition grew more desperate . . . it was a harrowing but not uncommon sight to see those hungry men gather the wasted corn from under the  feet of half-fed horses, and  wash and parch and eat it to satisfy in some measure their craving for food.”  

General John B. Gordon,  

“Reminiscences of the Civil War” 

Elmira Prison Camp, Elmira, New York

“Winter poured down its snows and its sleets  upon Lee’s shelterless men in the trenches. Some of  them burrowed into the earth. Most of them  shivered over the feeble fires kept burning along the  lines. Scanty and thin were the garments of these  heroes. Most of them were clad in mere rags.  

Gaunt famine oppressed them every hour. One  quarter of a pound of rancid bacon and a little meal  was the daily portion assigned to each man by the  rules of the War Department. But even this  allowance failed when the railroads broke down and  left the bacon and the flour and the mean piled up  beside the track in Georgia and the Carolinas. One sixth of the daily ration was the allotment for a  considerable time, and very often the supply of  bacon failed entirely. 

At the close of the year, Grant had one hundred  and ten thousand men. Lee had sixty-six thousand  on his rolls, but this included men on detached duty,  leaving him barely forty thousand soldiers to defend  the trenches that were then stretched out forty  miles in length from the Chickahominy to Hatcher’s  Run.”

Henry Alexander White, “Life of Robert E.  Lee.” 

“When their own soldiers were suffering such  hardships as these in the field, the Confederate  leaders made every effort to exchange men so that  helpless prisoners of war would not suffer in  anything like equal measure, offering even to send  back prisoners without requiring an equivalent.  Hence, the charges brought against the Confederate  government of intentional ill-treatment of prisoners  of war are not supported by the facts. 

[In the South] the same quantity and quality of rations were given to prisoners and guards; but that  variety in food could not be had or transported on  the broken-down railway system of a non manufacturing country, which system could not or  did not provide sufficient clothes and food even for the Confederate soldiers in the field. 

[The] control of the prisons in the North was turned over by Secretary  Stanton and the vindictive and partisan men (who  were later responsible also for the crimes of  Reconstruction) to the lowest element of an alien  population and to Negro guards of a criminal type,  and such men as President Lincoln, Seward,  McClellan, and the best people in the North were  intentionally kept in ignorance of conditions in  Northern prisons while officially furnished with  stories as to “the deliberate cruelties” practiced in  the South.” 

(The Women of the South in War Times, Matthew Page  Andrews, Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pp. 399-406) 

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans; President Jefferson Davis Chapter, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 45, issue #4, April 2021 ed.)

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