Ghost #BookHugs with Holly Bargo!

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Russian Pride by Holly Bargo #BookHugs #hot #mafia #romance

The fourth and final book in the Russian Love series. Discounted e-book launch price of $0.99 good thru October 15, 2017.

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The marriage alliance between the Russians and Italians embroils both organizations in a deadly war with the Chinese Triad. Can love grow in such circumstances?

Book Description

A victim of domestic violence, Inessa recuperates in the home of mafia captain Giovanni Maglione. Her parents, Bratva chief Maksim Andrupov and his wife Olivia, learn that Inessa’s recently deceased husband double-crossed the Chinese Triad and they’re coming after her for reparation. Thinking to save their daughter, Maksim and Olivia convince Giovanni to marry Inessa, who doesn’t particularly want to marry again and yet finds herself agreeing to the scheme.

The ruse fails and the Chinese pursue their target with bloodthirsty determination. Giovanni draws upon the resources of his own colleagues and rival mobs to engage with the Triad, avoid prison, and save his family, which now includes Inessa. The most dangerous man in Cleveland displays a surprisingly tender and gentle aspect of his character as he engages in terrible violence to protect what’s his… and Inessa is most definitely his.

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The following excerpt is suitable for all audiences: G rating.

Marriage to a woman he found himself wanting and who did not want him back promised to punish him for every evil deed he had committed.

Giovanni had committed many.

Hours later and covered in snow, Paolo admitted without rancor that Inessa had built the better snow fort and won the battle with her superior ammunition. The younger boys merely cheered and flopped down in the snow to make snow angels and build snowmen until Bianca called them in for supper.

Gathered around the kitchen table that evening for supper, Bianca held court as usual. Lively conversation and friendly insults flew back and forth in a merry combination of affectionate bickering that Inessa still had not quite gotten used to. These boisterous, openly emotional Italians bewildered her, especially when Paolo flung an insult at his cousin that no one in the Bratva would have dared utter to her father. Yet Giovanni laughed it off and gave the boy a playful swat, while the elderly housekeeper frowned in resigned acceptance that the hooligans at her table might never grow up and act like gentlemen. Giovanni’s sparkling eyes met Inessa’s across the table. She felt a blush rise at the instant transformation of amusement to heated desire.

A hand gently patted hers, distracting her from the man’s intense stare. Looking at Bianca’s soft smile, she smiled back, though her expression held more than a tinge of anxiety. She could not—and would not—deny that Giovanni Maglione was one sexy, beautiful man. But the thought of submitting to a man made her blood run cold. The nightmares of experience doused any answering spark of desire.

Giovanni would want and expect children.

Inessa lowered her gaze to her plate and let the family discussion flow over her.

From the head of the table, Giovanni forced a smile at whatever inanity his young cousin spewed. Paolo, he knew, attempted to show off his wit to impress the shy, lovely woman who would marry into the family and unite Bratva and mafia. He also knew that his adolescent cousin, suffering from surging teenage hormones, had a crush on the quiet Russian woman. He made a mental note to keep a watchful eye on Paolo to ensure the boy didn’t do anything too stupid.

Giovanni also noticed the pretty blush that turned Inessa’s cheeks such a lovely pink. Within his mind, he winced at the sudden fear that flashed in her eyes and surmised her thoughts. Somehow, he had to convince her that hurting women was not his style. He would never hurt her, would never tolerate a hand raised against her.

She was his and he protected what was his with all the considerable resources at his disposal.

The following excerpt has a little heat, but it’s not terribly explicit: PG rating.

“You won’t send us away?”

“I want you where I can protect you.”

When do you expect this to come to a head?”

“Days.” His arms tightened around her and he inhaled the sweet, warm scent of white tea and ginger and woman. If only she were willing.

“How can I help, Giovanni?”

He rubbed his cheek against her hair. It felt like coarse silk against his skin, some of the fiery strands catching on the stubble already shadowing his cheeks. He pressed another kiss to her head and settled a hand over the flare of her hip. She felt warm and soft in his lap and smelled like a woman should. He ran his other hand down her neck and arm, then back up again. Tangling his fingers in her hair, he tilted her head back and lowered his lips to hers. She sighed into his mouth as his lips pressed lightly to hers, a touch of unbearable tenderness.

Inessa didn’t know where the tears came from. Or why, really.

Giovanni tasted warm salt and pulled away. He wiped away a tear with his thumb and apologized, “I am sorry, Inessa. I am a beast to you.”

She shook her head and raised her hand, resting it against his cheek. “No,” she protested, “you are good to me, so good.”

His blood surged. His thumb stroked her cheek again. Lowering his mouth to hers, he brushed his lips over hers and nibbled the corner of her mouth. Her back arched beneath his hand, pushing her soft breasts against his chest. Her hands traveled behind his neck, fingers brushing against the short hair at the nape.

“If we don’t stop, Inessa, I won’t be able to,” he warned her, lips brushing against hers as he spoke.

She pressed her body closer against his and replied, “I like the way you touch me. So gentle. Sweet.”

A shudder rippled through Giovanni, straining his control. He did not want to be gentle and sweet. He wanted to slam into her body and pound his frustrations into oblivion as she screamed his name. His hands tightened on her, then released her as he drew back.

Inessa blinked in surprise, noting the pulse throbbing at the base of his jaw.

“I cannot be gentle. Not now,” he rasped, his voice thick and guttural.


He pressed an index finger over her lips to quiet her. “Do not offer what you do not truly want,” he said. “And I know you want—and need—gentle and sweet. Perhaps some other time when you do not show fear when I walk into the room.”

About the AuthorHenHouse_Logo

Holly Bargo is the author’s pseudonym and really did exist as a temperamental appaloosa mare fondly remembered for watching over toddler children and grinding a brand new pager into dust. Holly lives on a hobby farm in southwest Ohio with her husband, a clowder of cats, an elderly llama, and an even more ancient horse that looks and acts half her age. Until recently, Holly and her husband’s two children also lived with them, but kids grow up and leave home.

Holly has published 17 fiction books since 2014—many of them steamy romances—and works full-time as a freelance ghostwriter and editor. All her books can be found on


Reading is the Best Writing Exercise!


I’ll be the first to admit: I’m an obsessive reader. Although I haven’t kept count, I would venture to say I’ve read almost 100 books so far this year. I partake of reading material in a variety of ways as well: print, eBook, and audiobook. I always have at least one book going in each format at all times. Is this good for my brain or will my overwhelmed little brain cells just explode? I did some research on this and blogged about this very topic on the fabulous website, Sixty & Me, just the other day. You can read the article here.

After all, I will be turning sixty in just a few short weeks. Yikes. Where have all the years gone?

The difference in how I read before I became an author, and how I read now, though, is huge. I used to just read for enjoyment. Now, in addition to thoroughly enjoying the experience, I’m also learning. A LOT.

starry-sky-1948523_640For example: My present work-in-progress, a supernatural suspense called PIGMENTS, features a psychic who can access the memories of artists through their DNA that’s embedded in the oil paint. Although I’m an avid art history buff, I’ve fallen away from research in that area over recent years. So I needed to read a few books–novels, preferably–that centered around art.

I started out re-reading two old favorites: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Still, I needed more. More recent titles, those I hadn’t read before. I stumbled upon an author new to me, B. A. Shapiro, and began with her 2013 title, The Art Forger. What a golden find was this! Shapiro’s style hovers between commercial and literary fiction–a trait I’m particularly fond of, since I write in much the same ilk.

After leaving a 5-star review for The Art Forger, I’ve moved on to Shapiro’s 2015 title, The Muralist. Although at first put off somewhat by the more extensive history explored in this title, I have now found myself hooked. Shapiro utilizes a dual-time method of telling her stories. The Art Forger took place mostly in the present-day, where the majority of The Muralist takes place in 1939-40 – a time period, I will admit, I’ve not explored in any depth. stamp-1497087_640

This author is teaching me all sorts of history I either didn’t know about or didn’t understand in the most painless way–through engrossing and often lyrical prose. But it wasn’t until I was driving home last evening, listening to the audiobook version of this title, that Ms. Shapiro gifted me an “ah-ha” moment.

In my work-in-progress, PIGMENTS, I’ve been having difficulty with telling the story from multiple points of view. I’m combining POVs, telling some in the first person, and others in third. What Ms. Shapiro did in The Muralist is to make each chapter in the POV of one character, naming that character at the start. This keeps the reader straight on who’s telling the story. I believe Tracy Chevalier also used this technique in her 2004 title, The Lady and the Unicorn.

My quandary as to how to proceed with PIGMENTS is now solved, thanks to two brilliant authors I’ve read. Thank you, Ms. Chevalier and Ms. Shapiro, for the lesson in plot construction.

Yes, I read for pleasure. But it’s always a bonus when a pleasurable activity turns into an educational one.


Claire Gem writes in several genres including contemporary romance, women’s fiction, & supernatural suspense. She prides herself on bridging the gap between genre & literary fiction–these ain’t your mama’s Harlequin novels. Visit her at her website or Amazon Author page.



Welcome Casi McLean!


Romantic Suspense, Time Slips, And Mystery with a Sprinkle of Magic ….

Piper Taylor concedes she’ll never fall in love, until a treacherous storm spirals her into the arms of the handsome Nick Cramer. Unrelenting remorse over a past relationship haunts Nick, but he can’t deny the mysterious connection and hot desire Piper evokes.

The allure of a secret portal hidden beneath Atlanta’s Lake Lanier tempts him into seizing the opportunity to change his mistakes. But his time slip triggers consequences beyond his wildest dreams.

Can Piper avoid the international espionage and terrorism of 2001 New York, find Nick, and bring him home before he alters the fabric of time, or will the lovers drift forever Beyond The Mist?


Today I’m thrilled to welcome Casi McLean to my blog, celebrating the release of BEYOND THE MIST.


Can Piper avoid the espionage and terrorism of 2001 New York, find Nick, and bring him home before he alters the fabric of time, or will the lovers drift forever Beyond The Mist?

Here’s an excerpt from this exciting new link in the Lake Lanier Mystery series…

A soft mist hovered over the moonlit lake, beckoning, luring him forward with the seductive enticement of a mermaid’s song. Rhythmic clatter of a distant train moaned in harmony with a symphony of cricket chirps and croaking frogs. Spellbound, Nick Cramer took a long breath and waded deeper into the murky cove. Dank air, laden with a scent of soggy earth and pine, crawled across his bare arms. The hairs on the back of his neck bristled, shooting a prickle down his spine that slithered into an icy pool coiled in the pit of his stomach. He clenched his fingers into a tight fist, determined to fight through the emotion consuming him. Fear sliced through his belly like icy shards until he finally heaved, forcing rancid bile to choke into his throat.

I have to do this––he inched forward––only a few more steps and––

A sudden surge swirled around him, yanking him into a whirling vortex, where a violent blue streak dragged him deeper, deeper beneath the lake into the shadowy depths. Heart pounding, he battled against the force, twisting, thrusting toward the surface with all of his strength but, despite his muscular build, he spun like a feather in wind into oblivion. When the mist dissolved, Nick Cramer had vanished.


Darkness consumed him, a cyclone spinning, twisting Nick as he ripped through an endless void. His lungs burned for oxygen. He could hold his breath no longer, and relinquished his resolve, but he felt no pain. Instead, a sense of serenity encircled him as if he were floating, weightless, breathless, helpless on a cloud of warm air…then the abyss abruptly imploded. Pierced by a brilliant violet-blue light that shattered into a kaleidoscope of color, the tempest hurtled him, whirling, snaking boundlessly until he finally burst through the surface, gasping for air.

He filled his lungs to capacity, breathed in and out several times before opening his eyes to assimilate the greenish blur surrounding him. Instinctively dog-paddling to stay afloat, he stared at a rustic old wooden bench situated atop a ridge above until his head stopped swimming. He had survived the tumult that ripped his body through Lord knows what and challenged him physically and emotionally to the limits few men could endure. And for what, to end up exactly where he started?

“Noooooo.” His blood-curdling moan cut through the silence.

He slapped his hand across the water, scooping a splash that flew around him. There was nothing more he could do. He tried. He risked his life to set things right, to offset the tragic event that had haunted him for eleven years, but he always knew the chance equated to that of a snowball in hell.



You can find this exciting new book Here.



Casi McLean is an Award Winning Author:

2016 Best Romantic Suspense

Winner Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence

Winner 2016 Best Heroine Still Moments Magazine

2016 Aspen Gold Finalist for Best Romantic Suspense

2015 Top Pick by Night Owl Reviews

2015 Chicago Fire and Ice Finalist

2014 Winner 2014 AWC Short Story Award


Her Bio:

Award winning author, Casi McLean, pens novels to stir the soul with romance, suspense, and a sprinkle of magic. Her writing crosses genres from ethereal, captivating shorts with eerie twist endings to believable time slips, mystical plots, and sensual romantic suspense, like Beneath The Lake, WINNER: 2016 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for BEST Romantic Suspense.

Casi’s powerful memoir, Wingless Butterfly: Healing The Broken Child Within, shares an inspirational message of courage, tenacity, and hope, and displays her unique ability to excel in nonfiction and self-help as well as fiction. Known for enchanting stories with magical description, McLean entices readers in nonfiction as well with fascinating hooks to hold them captive in storylines they can’t put down.

Her romance entwines strong, believable heroines with delicious hot heroes to tempt the deepest desires then fans the flames, sweeping readers into their innermost romantic fantasies. Ms. McLean weaves exceptional romantic mystery with suspenseful settings and lovable characters you’ll devour. You’ll see, hear, and feel the magical eeriness of one fateful night. You’ll swear her time travel could happen, be mystified by her other worldly images, and feel heat of romantic suspense, but most of all you’ll want more.

You can connect with Casi here:

Beneath The Lake Trailer A Time-Slip Romantic Suspense

Destiny Trailer ~ Shorts With A Sprinkle Of Magic 

Wingless Butterfly Trailer

 ~ An Inspiring MemoirWebsite  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads   Amazon Author Page  Blog  Pinterest  Instagram



Claire Gem is an award winning author of contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and supernatural suspense. Stop by her Website or Amazon Author Page to find out more.

Signature Bar2017

An Exciting Series from Rebecca Neely!

The CROSSING REALMS paranormal romance series by Rebecca E. Neely ~ Sacrifice or salvation? A chosen psychic few may be both. As Keepers battle Betrayers to save the human race, all’s not fair in love and war.

Crossing Realm Series Promo Image

THE KEEPER, Book 1 – A tortured leader of human guardians must join forces with the one woman in the city who can save his clan from destruction: an anxious – and psychic – accountant who has no memory of him.

THE WATCHER, Book 2 – Can a Keeper hell bent on avenging his own death find the answers the clan so desperately needs in the seven days he’s been given, or will he be forced to abandon the woman he loves and his clan, leaving them all to face imminent destruction?

THE BETRAYER, Book 3 – Can a Betrayer with a mysterious ability, ousted by her brood and left for dead, fight alongside the Keeper who saves her—and falls for her—in the throes of the second rebellion, or will she forsake herself and the man she loves as the clan wages what may be its final battle to save the human race?

 Welcome to my world, er…realm!


WATCHERS – Beings that exist in their own realm, guiding and guarding the Keepers through missions called Compulsions.

KEEPERS – ‘close to human as you can get’ beings who guard humans, live in the human realm and exude and exist on light energy.

BETRAYERS – Keepers turned bad. Banished from the Watchers’ realm after the Rebellion, they too live in the human realm, wreaking havoc on humans, from which they harvest dark energy to feed on.

VITALITY STONE – a bright green stone hewn from the Watchers’ realm that gives the Keepers their amazing powers, and defends against Betrayers dark energy…

SIMILITUDE STONE – The antithesis of Vitality stone, this deadly black stone is a conduit for dark energy that enables Betrayers to drain Keepers’ energy…


The Geary clan of Keepers lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA as carpenters. They’re almost exactly what they appear to be: blue collar Irish Catholics, born and bred in the ‘Burgh. Their M.O.? Humans forget their interaction with them, so they’re able to go about their Compulsions more easily…

The Pittsburgh brood of Betrayers lives in the recesses of the city, and can be found wherever human pain, violence and suffering exists…


Haenus Vickery – brood master of the Betrayers, who’s hell bent on destroying both humans and Keepers, and reclaiming the Watchers’ realm as his own…

Nick Geary – Jaded clan leader of the Keepers, who seems doomed to love a human woman who’s forgotten him, time after time, for thirteen years…

Libby Klink – a skittish accountant who’s as terrified of her recent and strange intuitions as she is of her mundane existence…

Dev Geary – a former Keeper, hell bent on avenging his own death…

Meda Gabriel – a cagey, street smart bar owner with a unique skill set…

Curtis Geary – A Keeper/computer guru whose neat, logical world is about to tilt on its axis…

Jordan – A Betrayer with a mysterious ability, ousted by her brood and left for dead…

Tan – Meda’s German Shepherd, a rescue who’s got an uncanny sense about people…

TATTOO, MOTORCYCLE OR GERMAN SHEPHERD FAN? I also blog about cool stuff from each story. I invite you to stop by and have a read.

THE KEEPER, Book 1 in the series, is a finalist for the RONE award for Best Paranormal short, sponsored by InD’Tale Magazine.

Both Book 1 and THE WATCHER, Book 2 are out now and available in Kindle and print, on Amazon.

Stay tuned for news about THE BETRAYER, Crossing Realms Series Book 3. My Street Team will have an opportunity to read it before anyone else does – JOIN NOW!


REBECCA E. NEELY, AUTHOR  ~  Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

A sucker for a happy ending, Rebecca strives to write the kind of stories she loves to read—gritty, suspenseful and featuring authentic, edgy and vulnerable characters, smack dab in the middle of action that explodes from page one.

Careers, past and present, include freelance writing, accounting, mother, problem solver, doer and head bottle washer.

Rebecca is a member of Three Rivers Romance Writers (TRRW), a PAN member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and is proud to serve as a judge for several writing contests each year.


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Stalemate: Worry Vs. Creativity


It’s six o’clock p.m. on Saturday night, and I have the house to myself. My husband is off at a car show. My angelfish are all floating happily in their fresh water from the rotations I did this afternoon (Can fish smile? I think mine are). The dog is sitting under my chair napping, as well as exuding some very foul-smelling gas from time to time (thank you, son Justin, for feeding him some bacon after breakfast this morning).

I should be writing. I intended to be writing. I need to be writing. Working on the novel-in-progress that is well underway, completely outlined (!!!), and just waiting for the keyboard time it needs to become a reality. But I am not writing. I can’t even think about writing. Why? Because of Hurricane Irma.

Selfish bitch. She’s not only stealing writing time (the least of her sins), but she’s threatening the health and well-being of my son, my daughter, my grandson, my brother, and about a dozen nieces and nephews—all who reside in Florida. Directly in her path. Not to mention dozens of close friends.


How can I possibly think about writing? I have spent the last three hours switching back and forth between the National Hurricane Center site, and BayNews9, which is the station most closely relevant to the mid-east coast event of the century. Irksome Irma. The minute I started tracking her so closely, I swear, she’s stopped in her tracks. Not about to give me any clues as to her dastardly plan.


Don’t worry, my kids say. We’ll be fine. We are prepared. We live in a block home, not in an evacuation area. We have a plan. We have plenty of water, food, and beer (well, thank God for small favors).

My biggest terror, at this point, is that moment when, sometime in the next 24 hours, all communication ceases. I know it will happen. I won’t be able to contact my kids. I will be left wondering what in the holy hell is going on.

So I sit here, staring at the keyboard and switching tabs. Asking the fates for answers. Praying for positive outcomes.

Will I be getting any writing done tonight? Hell, no. I’m too busy watching, and waiting, and wondering. And praying.

To all of those who are in the path of this monstrous storm, or who have loved ones who are, my thoughts and prayers go out to you tonight. Remember, we are all part of a grand universal plan . . . we all have the power to change destiny. If we only direct our intentions succinctly enough.

Let’s join forces and force this bitch Irma off course.


Claire Gem is a multi-award winning author of contemporary romance, women’s fiction, & supernatural suspense. She is also a mother of three and grandmother.

Visit her at


Are you ready for itcher?


I am SO excited to bring to you news about a wonderful new app tool that will make your life so much easier! How many times have you spent minutes, maybe even hours looking for & picking out your next movie, TV show, music choice, or book? Valuable, precious time when you could have been watching, listening or reading?

This happens to me all the time, especially with books, because I consume them at such an unbelievable rate. What’s most disappointing, however, is when I’ve spent all that time, made my best choice, and then discover—drat! This isn’t what I was looking for!



Well now, there’s an app for that. It’s called itcher.

So, what exactly is “itcher”? Here’s what the company’s bio states:

“itcher is a book recommendations app that helps you find your next favourite book in less than 50 seconds. You can download it on iOS, Android or check out it out on Web.”

I wanted to know more! I figured he best way to get valid information about this exciting new app was to go to the source: the Itcher people themselves. They were kind enough to grant me an interview. Here’s what I found out:

Claire: The Itcher App is described as an entertainment assistant. Can you elaborate on that? Exactly what can Itcher help me do?


Itcher: itcher can help you discover more entertainment you love. The itcher app is a one stop shop for recommendations, lists and links to buy your favorite titles. In that sense, it’s your personal entertainment assistant, on hand ready to recommend new titles and also show you where to buy them. It’s what the entertainment world has been waiting for!

Claire: What are the entertainment categories Itcher can help me with?

Itcher: Movies, TV shows, books, music and games – everything entertainment lovers adore!

Claire: Why the name “Itcher”? Can you describe how the company chose this particular moniker?

Itcher: Well, we like to say that our app is the perfect thing for when you’re ‘itching’ to find a new great book or watch your next favorite movie!

Oops, my bad. Guess I need to drop the capital “I” from here on in . . .

Claire: The itcher App description claims to recommend entertainment selections based on the user’s personal taste. How does it do that?

itcher: We’re glad you asked! itcher works by matching users to like-minded users and using the power of the community to generate new recommendations. That means if people with very similar taste to you have all rated a book with 5 stars, you’re likely to be recommended that book too. It’s the app equivalent of your friends all recommending you something, only much more accurate as itcher learns exactly what you like.

Claire: Once itcher knows what kind of books I like to read, will these choices automatically influence the other categories, such as movies, TV shows, & music? Or is each category evaluated separately?


itcher: Each category is evaluated separately, but when you sign up to itcher, you’ll automatically be signed up to our newsletter, where we sometimes recommend TV shows based on your taste in movies and vice versa.

Claire: Once I’ve decided on a book or movie on the itcher app, does itcher sell or rent me the title? Or does it just direct me to where it can be found?

itcher: itcher will direct you to where it can be found. For movies, you might be able to stream with one click, if the title is available via Netflix or Amazon. For books, you’ll be linked to the book on Amazon so you can purchase that new title and get reading!

Claire: What does itcher cost? Is there a fee for me to choose a title through the itcher app?

itcher: itcher is totally free! There are no fees for signing up, nor are there any fees for buying a title via itcher.

Thank you, itcher associates, for visiting my blog today!

Wow . . . so you know the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?” WRONG. Not when it comes to this amazing new app, itcher. I’m looking forward to finding my next great movie, TV show, or book—whatever entertainment format I’m “itching” for—from this new tool.

Thank you, itcher associates, for helping me turn all my blog followers and fans about this nifty innovation.

You can find itcher at the Apple app store or Google Play. Find out more at


Claire Gem is an award-winning author of contemporary romance, women’s fiction, & supernatural suspense. Find out more about her books at her Website or Amazon Author Page.