30 November 2021

HIT (Mafia Born Book 1) by Mallory Hart


I am so excited that HIT by Mallory Hart is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes an awesome giveaway courtesy of Ivy, & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.


About the Book:

Title: HIT (Mafia Born Book 1)

Author: Mallory Hart

Pub. Date: November 30, 2021

Publisher: Mallory Hart Romance

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited Membership!


I was never supposed to meet him, but one fateful night had him saving my life.

Now he thinks he owns me. I’m his to keep.

He’s ruthless, cold, and a killer, but something draws me to him anyway.

I know what he’s capable of. I know he was meant to kill me. And I know one wrong slip may make him change his mind about sparing my life.

But I want to test him, push him, be a part of his world.

I know I should be afraid. I know I should run. But something about Darragh has taken me over, and I don’t know how long I can resist . . .


A hitman.
A princess.
A forbidden romance.

All her life, Giuseppina Delarosa knew two things: what her father and brother did after dark was a secret, and her life was never her own. As the sole daughter of Don Delarosa’s clan, it was well known a marriage would secure the future of the family. But when she learns she’s to be wed to an infamous ally, Giuseppina has other plans.

Darragh O’Callaghan is good at exactly two things: not caring about anyone, and killing his enemies. The only Irish mafia in the city needs good enforcers to keep their borders, and Darragh does his job well. So he can’t understand why he screws it all up when a hit is placed on the Delarosa gang’s prime jewel: Giuseppina Delarosa.

One rainy night.
One decision not to kill.
One moment that changes everything.

Hit is a slow burn, enemies-to-lovers, dark mafia romance. It is book one in the Mafia Born Duet.



I opened the door and stepped onto the sidewalk. The heat hit like a brick wall, drying up the very moisture from my lungs. My bare feet burned on the cement as a hellish breeze swirled the edge of Darragh’s dress shirt around my hips. 

He didn’t turn around. His low voice carried on the wind like a death knell. The bible described the Angel of Death as an unseen force. A spirit drifting from door to door to collect those it claimed. But the book was wrong. The Angel of Death was not an omniscient spirit of the night.

He was a violent man with blue eyes and a thick, Irish accent. 

I steadied my breath. The burning soles of my feet planted into the ground. Hot wind caressed my legs as I stared into the thick, dark locks over the back of Darragh’s head. Rust-colored dust blew around me, scraping the corners of my eyes and springing hot tears to my irises. But I never took my gaze off the Angel. 

My arms lifted to eye-level.

The gun went steady in my palms.

My finger wrapped around the trigger.


About Mallory Hart:

Mallory Hart is the writer of steamy stories to make you swoon. When not writing, she can be found with a glass of red wine, blasting music and dancing in her underwear or reading books that make you blush. For updates on new releases, visit her website and subscribe to the newsletter.

Her first full-length work, Hit, releases 11/30/2021 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Sign up for Mallory’s mailing list!


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Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a signed finished copy of HIT, US Only.

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Sealed with a Yuletide Kiss by Sophie Barnes



An Historical Romance Advent Calendar

Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Holiday Romance, Romance Anthology

Date Published: November 30, 2021

Allow yourself to be swept away as you count down to Christmas with this collection of twenty-four romantic short stories. From friends to lovers and instant romance to secret identities and so much more, these treats are sure to fill you with warmth this holiday season. So grab a hot drink, settle into your favorite spot, and indulge in the magic of happily ever afters.

Story titles:

December 1: A Drunken Christmas Escapade

December 2: A Royal Affair on Christmas Eve

December 3: A Duke Surrenders His Heart on Christmas Eve

December 4: A Highwayman Proposes on Christmas Eve

December 5: Caught in a Snow Storm on Christmas Eve

December 6: Rescued by a Duke before Christmas

December 7: A Kiss for Christmas

December 8: A Christmas House Party

December 9: Underneath the Mistletoe

December 10: Snowed In on Christmas Eve

December 11: An Unexpected Guest Arrives for Christmas

December 12: At the Christmas Ball

December 13: Trapped in a Carriage on Christmas Eve

December 14: By the Stroke of Midnight

December 15: The Duke Proposes on Christmas

December 16: A Scandalous Dare on Christmas Eve

December 17: A Secret Christmas Rendezvous

December 18: Stealing a Yuletide Kiss

December 19: A Shocking Revelation for Christmas

December 20: Stranded at an Inn during Christmas

December 21: An Unexpected Encounter with a Highlander

December 22: Reunited on Christmas Eve

December 23: Only a Duke Will Do for Christmas

December 24: A Christmas Wedding Gone Awry

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Sophie Barnes, has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian with varying degrees of fluency.

She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor's degree from Parson's School of design, but most impressive of all - she's been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion - writing.

When she's not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family. She currently lives on the East Coast.

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29 November 2021

Pemberly's Christmas Governess by Regina Jeffers


A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary

Regency Romance, Clean Romance, Classic Romance, Jane Austen Fan Fiction

Release Date: November 29, 2021

Publisher: Regency Solutions

Two hearts. One kiss.

Following his wife’s death in childbirth, Fitzwilliam Darcy hopes to ease his way back into society by hosting a house party during Christmastide. He is thrilled when his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam sends a message saying not only will he attend, but the colonel is bringing a young woman with him of whom he hopes both Darcy and the colonel’s mother, Lady Matlock, will approve. Unfortunately, upon first sight, Darcy falls for the woman: He suspects beneath Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s conservative veneer lies a soul which will match his in every way; yet, she is soon to be the colonel’s wife.

Elizabeth Bennet lost her position as a governess when Lady Newland accuses Elizabeth of leading her son on. It is Christmastide, and she has no place to go and little money to hold her over until after Twelfth Night; therefore, when Lieutenant Newland’s commanding officer offers her a place at his cousin’s household for the holy days, she accepts in hopes someone at the house party can provide her a lead on a new position. Having endured personal challenges which could easily have embittered a lesser woman, Elizabeth proves herself brave, intelligent, educated in the fine arts of society, and deeply honorable. Unfortunately, she is also vulnerable to the Master of Pemberley, who kindness renews her spirits and whose young daughter steals her heart. The problem is she must leave Pemberley after the holidays, and she does not know if a “memory” of Fitzwilliam Darcy will be enough to sustain her.


Driving regret from his features, Darcy turned to greet Captain Stewart. “We are pleased you have decided to join us, sir.” He extended his hand in greeting. Outside, he caught a glimpse of a petite woman providing directions to what must be her maid and assisting Darcy’s footmen to separate the gentlemen’s trunks. A frown formed on his forehead. The lady should not be left to sort these things out.

Welcome, Captain Stewart,” Lady Matlock called as she descended the stairs on her son’s arm.

The captain bowed properly and said, “Thank you and Darcy for accepting my presence along with the colonel.”

Always glad for more company,” Darcy repeated, while searching the drive once again with his eyes for the woman, who, evidently, had disappeared.

Bingley and his youngest sister appeared to greet the new guests, and, so, Darcy slipped outside to ask Mr. Nathan what had transpired. “Where is the young lady, Nathan?”

The lady insisted on following her abigail around the house to a ‘less than obtrusive entrance.’ She said she would speak to Mrs. Reynolds at the kitchen entrance.”

Ridiculous!” Darcy growled as he went after the woman. “Miss! Miss!” he called, using his long legs to overtake her. “Miss, there must be—”

The lady turned to look upon him, and Darcy forgot to breathe. An odd sizzle of recognition swept through him—an emotion he had never felt previously, but one which felt natural, nonetheless, despite it placing his normal complacency on high alert.

The lady was a good head shorter than he, but not quite as petite as he had first thought. Delicate, very feminine features and a fragile bone structure could not disguise the firmness of character he discovered in her expression. Moreover, the lady possessed the type of eyes in which a man could easily become lost. Intelligent eyes. They glistened from the cold, but when they looked at him, Darcy thought he could see a future that had long evaded his multiple attempts at consideration. Her eyes were green with a touch of woodsy brown. Whether he liked it or not, he suspected they would haunt his dreams tonight, but he took quick note they were equally “haunted,” providing the woman a hint of vulnerability—a look which made him want to reach out and tug her into his embrace and offer her his protection.

Holding his hands tightly in fists at his side to keep the tug of possession from claiming his good sense, he said stiffly, “There is some mistake, miss. You are to join us in the family part of the house. The colonel wrote specifically to ask us to welcome you into our home. Please permit me to escort you inside.”

She stared at him with curious interest marking her features. A small smile tugged at the corners of her lips, and Darcy had the distinct feeling a smile on her lips might be his undoing. “I did not wish to interrupt the colonel’s homecoming. He has spoken often of the wonderful times he has spent at Pemberley.” She glanced around. “It is truly a magnificent estate, sir.”

I am pleased you find it so,” Darcy said, as a smile also claimed his lips. “You should view it in the spring and summer when it is green and full of color.”

She sighed deeply. “I would enjoy doing so very much. When I was—” The lady paused, giving her head a good shake. “My memories are not significant or of interest to you, sir.”

Darcy was not best pleased with her response. He would have liked to hear more of her opinion of his estate and her memories, but, instead, he presented her a slight bow. “Permit your maid to take your bags—” He looked to the girl, who appeared familiar. “I have seen you before, have I not?”

The maid dipped an awkward curtsey. “Yes, sir. I be Mr. Crownley’s daughter, Hannah, sir.”

Of course,” he said. “I thought you away from home.”

I was, sir. In Gloucestershire.”

Darcy nodded his acceptance. “I hope your mistress means to allow you to spend time with your family. Crownley will wish to see you for Christmas.”

I have already told Hannah she may spend as much time as she likes with her family,” the lady explained.

Good,” Darcy stated. “Then permit Hannah and my men to secure your bags in your quarters, and come away with me.” He offered the woman his arm. “The colonel’s mother is eager to take your acquaintance.”

She hesitated. “But I do not know your name, sir,” she said with a pert lift of her chin and with what sounded of a tease in her tone.

He smiled easily, realizing it had been forever since he had felt this light-hearted. “There is no one about to introduce us. The colonel is in the house,” he reminded her.

The lady glanced over her shoulder to the maid. “Hannah holds both of our acquaintances. Could not she perform the deed?”

Darcy could not look away from the lady’s countenance. He said with another grin of satisfaction for the privilege of speaking to such an enchanting woman, “Miss Crownley, might you provide me the acquaintance of your mistress?”

The maid giggled, but she managed a proper curtsey. “Lard, I never thought—” The girl sobered immediately. “Mr. Darcy, may I give you the acquaintance of Miss Bennet? Miss Bennet, the master of Pemberley, Mr. Darcy.”

Charmed, Miss Bennet.” He repeated with a bow. “If you have no objections, miss, I would see you inside the house. You must be quite chilled through standing outside for so long. Derbyshire winters are deceptively cold.”

The lady curtseyed. “Charmed indeed, Mr. Darcy,” she said softly, before placing her gloved hand upon his arm.

As he turned her steps toward the main entrance, in Darcy’s mind, time slowed. Desire as he had never known found a place in his chest. Instead of the main door, he was half-tempted to lead the woman to a nearby folly and enjoy more of the lady’s smiles. An insidious whisper pronounced her as his. Yet, when he reached the still open door, reality slapped him in the face.

There you are, Miss Bennet,” his cousin said as the lady left Darcy’s arm to stand beside his cousin. Edward said, very precisely, “My lady, with your permission, I would give you the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Bennet, my mother, the Countess of Matlock.”

Darcy looked on as the woman, who had just bewitched him with a simple smile, executed a perfect curtsey. “I am humbled, my lady, by your kind recognition.” She glanced to the colonel and smiled largely. “Colonel Fitzwilliam has told me numerous tales of his family.”

The countess arched an eyebrow which said she thought Edward’s actions odd, as did Darcy, for his cousin had shared nothing of the lady with any of his dear family, but Miss Bennet had said something similar to him only moments earlier. Darcy’s aunt smiled her “social” smile. “I believe I speak for all of the colonel’s family in saying we will be most happy to learn more of you, Miss Bennet. For now, welcome to Pemberley.”

From a place on the staircase, Hurst called out, “Now, now, boys. No way for children to act. Louisa, I say do, something!”

Mrs. Hurst caught one of the boys just as Mrs. Anderson came rushing upon the scene. The nurse presented the gathering in the foyer a quick curtsey. “I apologize, Mr. Darcy,” she said, wringing her hands in obvious distress. “I be puttin’ Miss Cassandra down for a nap, and the boys slipped out when Megs was called away to assist Cook. They followed their parents after Mr. and Mrs. Hurst left the nursery.”

Mrs. Anderson’s whole demeanor said she was fearful of Darcy’s disfavor. He did not like the look on the woman, who had been very loyal to his family over the years.

He said, “No harm, Mrs. Anderson. I will ask Mrs. Reynolds to have Megs and another maid take turns in assisting you. I am grieved to have added to your duties. I will see you are readily compensated.”

I beg your pardon, Mr. Darcy. Might I be of assistance, sir? I would be happy to return the boys to the nursery and entertain them until the maid can return to her duties there.” Miss Bennet’s earnest expression said she spoke honestly. “Surely there are some items in the house which can be used to entertain the boys. Toy soldiers, perhaps, from when you and the colonel were younger. Most large households store such items away as the children age.”

His cousin suggested, “The grey trunk. Hey, Darcy. We kept all our best cavalry in it.”

Darcy nodded his understanding and looked to his butler.

I believe it was placed in the attic some years back, sir. I can have someone bring it down immediately, Mr. Darcy.”

We should have done so before now,” Mr. Darcy admitted, although, in reality, it should be the Hursts’ responsibility to see their children were entertained.

Miss Bennet immediately handed her cloak, bonnet, and gloves to Mr. Nathan and then climbed a few steps to claim the hand of first one of the Hurst boys and then the other. “Why do you not come with me? Mr. Darcy has promised us a treasure chest full of toys to explore together. Will that not be grand?”

The youngest of the two said, “Yes, ma’am.”

The lady turned to Darcy. “With your permission, sir,” she murmured.

Darcy attempted to keep the frown from his features, but he knew he failed. “I must object, Miss Bennet. It would be the worst of society to accept a young lady into my home as a guest and then expect her to perform the work of a governess. Neither I nor my household can impose upon your good nature in such a manner.”

I assure you, sir, I would not feel put upon in any such way. I prefer to make myself useful, and, as my position in society is one of governess, please permit me to assist you.”

Without waiting for his permission, she turned the boys’ steps toward the above storey and gracefully climbed the stairs to where Mrs. Anderson waited to show her the way. As her little party turned toward the nursery, he heard her say, “You must tell me your names. I am Miss Bennet.”

Governess?” the countess asked her son. “Did Miss Bennet say she was a governess?”

Yes, she did,” the colonel declared. A look of admiration marked the colonel’s features. “Was it not wonderful how she quite readily took the matter in hand? I am very proud of how quickly Miss Bennet proved herself useful to Darcy.”

But—” the countess thought to lodge her objection, likely the same objection rushing to Darcy’s lips.

However, Edward claimed his mother’s hand and brought the back of it to his lips. “I will explain later, Countess. For now, I want to freshen my clothes, and, then, I wish to hear all there is to learn of both Roland and father. How is the esteemed Miss Ashley? Is a wedding date set?” He turned to the rest of Darcy’s guests. “I will look forward to hearing something from each of you at supper.” He looked to Darcy. “My customary quarters, I assume.”

Yes, and the captain is in the blue suite across from you.”

Edward motioned the captain to follow him. “Come, Stewart. Darcy and my mother keep the gentlemen and the ladies in different wings of the house. I will show you the way. If one does not have a guide, he may become lost in a maze of rooms.”

As they all disappeared to different reaches of the house, including the countess and Georgiana, Darcy remained staring off at the point where the lady, who had quite literally sent his heart pounding in a manner he had never experienced previously, had disappeared. Growing up together, Darcy had, most assuredly, idolized his older cousin, for Edward had always appeared stronger and wiser than he, but, until a few moments prior, he thought he had finally caught up to the man; perhaps, even, had outdistanced him in many of the essentials required of an English gentleman. Yet, with absolute certainty, his cousin had once again left Darcy wishing for some “unknown,” which Fitzwilliam possessed.

About the Author

Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”

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26 November 2021

Claimed by Aline Hunter



The Wolf's Den, Book 4

Paranormal Romance

Date Published:11-26-2021

He's waited a lifetime for her.

Melody Walker has a dark history. It's only been three years since she was bitten by a rogue werewolf, and her husband was killed. Since she's unable to shift, she's tried to live as a human, desperate to hold on to what she knows. She's worried her best isn't good enough when an enormous man shows up at her doorstep and changes the game.

Gunner Newsom didn't expect to meet his mate when his pack took over the community at Rhodes, but he's grateful for the gift of her. She's everything he's ever wanted. Witty, resilient, and sexy as hell. There's just one thing that stands in his way. His female is fighting to protect her only child, a little girl who's in danger of being given to her paternal grandparents as she's human and her mother is a werewolf.

What belongs to him, he loves, cherishes, and keeps. Not only will he claim the mate he's been given, but he'll also protect the daughter he's accepted as his own. He'll kill anyone or anything that attempts to stand in his way.


He stared at her, wishing things were different between them. If she was a pure werewolf, she'd pick up what he was trying to throw down. She'd understand straight away. But that wasn't the case. She had to come to terms with what was currently flowing through her.

"I want you to think about that when you go to bed, Melody," he instructed quietly. "Think about how things would be if I were sleeping beside you instead of taking refuge on the couch. I want you to take in what you've learned about me the last few weeks. Remember every single thing I've done since I've come here."

He ripped his eyes from hers, severing that kind of contact, waging a war within himself. He had to push his bestial nature back to address her as a man and not the beast she thought him to be. He cleared his throat when was in complete control, striving for calm.

"Consider how things could be with me by your side. You don't have to be afraid. Not of me or anyone else. Take a minute and envision the life I can give you if you'll let me."

About the Author

Aline Hunter is a multi-published author who has written stories featured in horror magazines, zombie romance anthologies, and flash fiction contests. Her work has a dark undertone, which she credits to her love of old eighties horror films, tastes in music, and choices in reading, and has been described as “full of sensual promise,” “gritty and sexy” and “a breath of fresh air.”

Currently, she is penning projects within the urban fantasy, erotic and contemporary, and paranormal romance genres.

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24 November 2021

Ninety-Five by Lisa Towks



Crime Thriller

Date Published: November 24, 2021

Publisher: Indies United Publishing House

Running away is what Zak Skinner does best, and he’s just done it again, having transferred from NYU to University of Chicago. His fresh start goes south when he accidentally uncovers evidence of an on-campus, organized crime scam involving drugging students, getting them to commit crimes on camera, and blackmailing them to continue under the threat of expulsion. Digging deeper, Zak discovers that the university scam is just the tip of the iceberg, connected to a broader ring of crimes linked to a darkweb underworld. Following clues proves too dangerous. They know, they’re watching him. But he’s in too deep now to turn back. Zak is led to a compound within Chicago’s abandoned Steelworker Park, only to discover that he’s being hunted. Following the path toward the truth transforms him from a nerdy academic to a rabid activist hell-bent on exposing the most elaborate and expensive scam on the US economy and its unsuspecting victims. While trying to find a way out alive, Zak discovers there’s something much more personal he’s been running from – his past. And now there’s nowhere to hide.

About the Author

Lisa Towles has 6 mystery/thrillers in print. Her 2019 thriller, The Unseen, was a Finalist in the Thriller category of the Best Book Awards by American Book Fest and her 2017 thriller Choke won a 2017 IPPY and a 2018 NYC Big Book Award for Thriller. Lisa’s published books include The Unseen, Choke, and the following titles published under her previous name, Lisa Polisar: The Ghost of Mary Prairie, Escape, Blackwater Tango, and Knee Deep. She is an active member and frequent Panelist/Speaker of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She has an MBA in IT Management and works full-time in the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lisa is a graphic designer and video creator, with a passion for supporting other authors.

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23 November 2021

Singapore Unveiled by Laura Kennedy



A Coral Cove Novel

YA Mystery

Date Published: November 23, 2021

Publisher: Fire and Ice Young Adult Books

Can the secretive mah-jongg tiles help solve the mystery of a missing girl?

When Brooke Bentley's father is transferred to Singapore for a year and he drags their family along, she's more than mad. But what choice do you have when you're only seventeen? So obviously it seems more than unfair after months of chaos involving the Cammies, the infamous members of the most exclusive club at Marlborough Academy, that Brooke is now being held responsible for the disappearance of a girl she barely knows.

More from author Laura Kennedy

Suddenly Singapore

I should have known the night we landed at Singapore’s Changi Airport things would turn out badly.

That something was already steeping in the thick, black Malaysian air like a tea ball of Darjeeling in a teapot.

A something that would totally change my life forever.

Torn from her old existence in Florida, seventeen-year-old Brooke Bentley is forced to find new friends against a backdrop of intrigue, violence and revenge.




The ancient game of mah-jongg is sort of like life, each ivory tile a clue, a direction to take, a season of the year or even danger ahead. I realize now I should have paid more attention during the months I was in Singapore. I should have sensed something ominous from those exotic designs warning me about Summer and her little sister Plum. But being me, I had to find out the hard way.

I can always blame what happened on my parents for dragging me to Malaysia. I mean, how many other seventeen-year-olds in the universe are forced to give up their entire lives to move halfway around the world?

I remember the whispers around Coral Cove High before I left Florida. There’s Brooke Bentley. Her father got transferred to Asia and she has to go, too. God! And it’s her senior year!

It was obvious they felt sorry for me. I felt sorry for me. I mean, the whole thing sucked. And even though deep down I was still totally mad, I guess I adjusted pretty fast. New school, new friends, new stuff to do. But it wasn’t long before the illusion of tranquility in the safest city in the world was shattered. How you wonder? Well, it all happened like this.

Chapter One

It was near the end of January and my mother had just dropped my brother Benji and me off at Marlborough Academy, our stuffy, terribly respectable private school. Thoughts of my new boyfriend Raffie were skipping through my mind when I noticed the sad state of Benji’s necktie.

Here. Let me straighten your tie or you’ll get a demerit.”

He groaned. “I don’t know why they make us wear these stupid uniforms.”

Because Marlborough is terribly British and into Stamford Raffles and all of that. So, you’re just going to have to live with it. Stiff upper lip. Think of it this way, when you turn fifteen, you’ll be allowed to wear long pants.”

By fall term we’ll be back in Florida and I can wear jeans to school again.”

If Dad’s through with the hotel project.”

Well, if he isn’t, I’m going home to live with Grandma Donnie.”

Home. Just hearing it sounded weird. Coral Cove, Florida and my old boyfriend Tyler. Sudsy and Tamara and my other BFFs. The longer I was in Singapore, the hazier they all became.

I have to let all of that go, I reminded myself. Live in the now, the thought of which brought me back to my new hot boyfriend, Raffie Desai. Would he send me a valentine? Doubtful since he’d never even said anything remotely romantic. Besides, did they even have Valentine’s Day in Asia? And if they did, Raffie was maddeningly unemotional and wouldn’t send one. Maybe it had something to do with being Hindu.

I was barely through Marlborough’s massive front door when my best guy friend, Mu, spotted me. With gelled, spiked hair and turned up collar, he made Marlborough’s gross general issue uniform look almost cool.

Hey, Brooke, Queenie’s been looking for you.”

She has?”

He nodded. “Says she has something terribly crucial to tell you. But then, you know what a drama queen she is.”

Thanks. Well, I’m sure she’ll tell all when she sees me.”

My main BFF, Quoi, aka Queenie, was waiting for me outside of Mrs. Harris’ classroom. Still managing to look very Teen Vogue in her plaid skirt, white blouse, blue blazer and perfect make-up, it was obvious she was upset. “Brooke, I’ve got to talk to you.”

What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

Not really.” Nervously, she ran her hand through her long, dark hair. “My father had another death threat yesterday.” It came out as one big sob.

Ohmigod! So, did he call the police?”

She nodded. “They told him not to worry and that they’ll step up surveillance around our house.”

I gave her a hug. “Don’t worry, Queenie. I’m sure this kind of stuff always happens to important people in government.”

I guess. Obviously, my parents are really freaked. They even hired a bodyguard for me.”

You’re kidding.”

She nodded to other side of the hallway. “See that muscular looking dude leaning against the wall? His name is Li Yong. He shadows me wherever I go.”

He looks pretty tough. Is he going to classes, too?”

No, we asked, but the principal won’t let him, so he’ll have to wait outside my classrooms.”

I gave Queenie a reassuring smile. “Well, it’s a good idea to be on the safe side. At least until the election is over.”

But on the inside, I didn’t feel so confident. Maybe someone was really trying to hurt Queenie and her family. Politicians always had someone mad at them. Reeling from my frightening thoughts, I grabbed my notebook and two texts and slammed my locker door. “So are we on for the Cammies Thursday?” I asked, changing the subject.

I guess, but somehow Club seems pretty meaningless right now.”

Oh, come on, Q. It will be good for you to have some fun.”

I don’t know about the word fun. Besides, we have a crisis.”

What now?”

Mei Lien is moving. The rumor is she was caught shoplifting again and her parents have to get her out of Singapore or they’ll lock her up.”

God. Well, it was bound to get real now she turned eighteen. It’s too bad, but she knew how strict Singapore is about that kind of stuff.”

And...” Queenie stopped to take a breath... “Kalavani is transferring to art school.”

No! Now who will do invitations?” There was a moment of silence while this revelation sank in. “Not that that’s the only reason I’ll miss her, of course.”

So,” Queenie continued, “that means we have to find two new girls to keep the magic number at seven. As if with all of this other stuff going on I even care.”

Oh, Queenie.” I gave her a hug. “Obviously, Club pales in comparison to your safety, but you have to move on with your life. Remember the motto of the British in World War II? Stay calm and carry on. Isn’t that what Miss Harris told us in British History?”

Queenie blinked back a tear. “You’re right, Brooke. You are so maddeningly logical sometimes.” She paused to reboot. “Okay, I know of two possibilities. Summer Chaing and her little sister, Plum. They just transferred from Nanyang Girls School. Summer’s a senior like us and Plum’s a freshman.”

Freshman? Isn’t she sort of young?”

Yes. But Summer is perfect and her mother won’t let her join unless Plum gets in, too. Besides, I recently realized something earth shattering.”

And what could that possibly be?”

If we don’t take in younger girls, the Chameleons will be extinct when we graduate. Just like the dinosaurs.”

I laughed, happy for an excuse to. “Hmm, I never thought of it. Somehow I assumed we were immortal.” We continued down the crowded hallway, me considering my newly discovered mortality. “So when do I get to meet our next victims?” The minute I said it, I wished I’d used another noun.

You can meet Summer now, because it just so happens, she’s assigned to our homeroom.”

The warning bell rang and Queenie and I slipped through the door milliseconds before Miss Harris closed it. Like homing pigeons, we fluttered to the back of the classroom where we slid into our seats.

There sat Summer. Pretty as a China doll, her almond eyes, tiny nose and rosebud lips looking as though they’d been painted on her face. Dressed in Marlborough white blouse, plaid skirt and saddle shoes, she sat with her hands folded, the epitome of serenity.

Lounging at my old desk, Audrianna looked up. “Hi, Brooke. Just stole your place a sec so I can keep Summer company. Oh, Brooke, this is Summer. Summer, Brooke, the girl from the U.S. I was telling you about. Brooke and I are practically the only blondes in the school.”

Getting up, she returned to her seat, reassuringly patting Queenie’s hand on the way. Obviously, Queenie had filled her in on the death threat, too.

Summer looked at me and smiled. “Pleased to meet you, Brooke. It’s always fun to meet an American. They’re so refreshing.”

I laughed. “Well, I hope I live up to the image. I hear you went to Nanyang Girls School.”

She nodded. “All through secondary, but my mother wanted my little sister Plum to attend someplace more suitable for her emotional needs. That’s why we’re here.”

Emotional needs? A laundry list of possibilities skipped across my mind.

Welcome back students.” Miss Harris’ warm British voice cut through my thoughts. “And a special welcome to those attending Marlborough for the first time. I’d like to extend a special welcome to Ruomei.” All heads turned toward Summer, who returned the attention with a Mona Lisa smile. “And now, I shall commence with roll call.” Miss Harris droned on until the bell rang, signaling the end of homeroom.

In the hallway, Queenie, Audrianna, Summer and I convened for a quick huddle. Audrianna nodded toward Queenie’s bodyguard lounging against the wall. “I assume you know about Bruce Lee over there,” she began, turning to me.

Yes, and I think it’s a great idea. I mean, who wouldn’t feel safe with a guy like him following you around all day?”

Audrianna gave him a flirty once over. “Too bad he can’t come to classes. He’d be a delicious distraction, even if he is at least thirty.”

Smiling, I grabbed my book bags. “Got to run,” I said. Taking my cue, my Marlborough BFFs regrouped, then en masse, traipsed down the hallway, Li Yong trailing behind. “See you guys at lunch,” I called.

Summer turned to give a little wave. “Okay, lah.”

I waved back. So she and her sister Plum were at Marlborough because Plum needed something more suitable for her emotional needs. Whatever that meant. It was all too much. Shoplifting. Death threats. Bodyguards. So much for living in the now.

About the Author

Laura Kennedy has been writing for what seems forever. Selling her first romance story to a well-known national magazine at twenty-two, she went on to sell several more, rounding the total to two dozen. Other writing credits include five other books: See Mommy Run, a humorous self-published novel, plus Surf Shop Sisters, Double Take, and Suddenly Singapore, all YA's featuring Brooke Bentley. The series also includes Affairs, Fibs and Felonies, the tale of Barbie Bentely, Brooke's mother.

Note: Surf Shop Sisters was a finalist in the 2016 Royal PalrmLiterary Award Competition in Florida.

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