Cover reveal and excerpt: ‘Honest Love’ by Lauren K. McKellar

It will be no surprise to people who’ve read the last few reviews on my blog that I am a huge fan of Lauren K. McKellar’s writing. She lets the reader experience her characters’ emotions (as she puts those characters through hell!) like no other. Well, I was lucky enough in the last week or so to get to read the first few chapters of her impending release, Honest Love, and then I couldn’t help but sign up for the cover reveal.

Keep scrolling, you guys — not just for cover-y goodness but for an excerpt.

Title: Honest Love (Twisted Duet #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: March 8, 2018
Cover design: BE Designs

Cover

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Blurb

When you’ve got nothing left to live for, you’ve got nothing left to lose.

In one tragic moment, Cameron Lewis lost everything. His fiancée. His unborn child. His perfect life.

Now, he does what needs to be done in order to get by. Work hard. Play it safe. They’re his mottos, and he’s not going to break them.

Until a beautiful woman with the ocean in her eyes and freedom in her soul comes to his rescue. She’s never known the kind of tragedy he has—and that’s what makes her so damn appealing.

But can Cameron finally let go and risk that last piece of himself? Will honest love be enough?

 

Excerpt

I staggered onto the street, the chill of the late autumn air creeping into my bones. The yellow glow of speeding vehicles blurred into a long never-ending light.

“I’ll never let you go.”

I rubbed my thumb against the ring on my finger. Today was the day. The day he would have been born. The day our baby …

And then I saw her.

Red hair curling down her back.

A white dress, billowing in the breeze.

She was about ten feet ahead in a group of three. Two other women I didn’t know.

My chest tightened. My throat constricted.

I grabbed at the wall of the building next to me, but my hand couldn’t make purchase. It slammed against the ground, my body weight behind it, but I didn’t feel the sting, didn’t feel the pain.

Bea.

“Wait!” I pushed to my feet, darting between shadows of people, my eyes on the red hair moving so far in front. “Please!”

I ran, my breath coming shorter. Too much whiskey. Too much love—both were the culprits and I didn’t give a damn. Because I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know why, but she was here. My Bea. She’d come back.

My feet pounded against the pavement, my soles slapping on the concrete. People turned to look, but for once, I didn’t care. Let them look. I wanted to laugh, a crazy, maniacal laugh. Let them look all they want.

Bea.

It was her.

I was sure of it.

It was her—

And then she turned around.

And for one glorious second, it was her. The woman I loved.

The woman I saw every time I closed my eyes, and sometimes when they were open, too.

The woman who’d own my heart forever.

“Hey,” she said.

But her voice—it wasn’t right.

I shook my head. No.

“Hey.” She tried again, but her smile was big. Too big.

Bea never smiled like that.

Nausea churned in my gut.

“Aren’t you that guy from the—”

Bile raced up my throat. I doubled over, clutching at my waist, and emptied the contents of my stomach into the gutter. Acid burnt the back of my tongue, and I coughed and spluttered, wiping at my mouth.

It wasn’t Bea.

No matter how many times I thought I’d seen her during the last six months, it was never Bea.

And as I stared at my own vomit, wanting her to be there, needing her to be there, I wished that just once I could pretend she was. That for one night, I could hold her in my arms again, stroke her long, red hair, and tell her everything would be all right.

“You guys go ahead,” the redhead told her friends. She placed a cool hand on my back, bending to my level. “Are you okay?”

“No,” I croaked. “I was s’posed to be a father. Today.” My baby. I would have met my baby today. Our baby.

She gave a smaller smile this time, and damn, she looked like her. “My name’s Giselle.”

“I’m Cam.” I straightened, the world sliding as I overbalanced, then corrected myself. “I have to go …”

“No.” She linked her hand in mine. “Let me take care of you.”

And I shouldn’t have. But I was so tired of fighting, of blocking out the past, that I let her lead me to her hotel room, let her pour me another drink, let her take off my clothes.“We’re so incredibly lucky, babe.” I pressed a kiss to the soft skin of Bea’s neck.

“The luckiest.” She smiled up at me, tossing her hair out of her eyes. “The luckiest people in the world.”

Only, it turned out that we weren’t.

Because seven weeks after that positive pregnancy test, Bea died.

And I’d never let her go after that.

Author Bio

Lauren K. McKellar is a writer of contemporary romance reads that make you feel. This hybrid-published USA Today best-selling author loves writing books with stunning settings, heart-throb heroes, and leading ladies who overcome great hardships in their lives.

In addition to writing, Lauren loves to read, and you can often find her up at all hours of the night with a glass of wine, some chocolate, and a good book. She lives by the beach in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband, infant son, and their two dogs. Most of the time, all four of them are well behaved.

Website | FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodreads |  Amazon

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‘False Awakening’ (‘Lucid Dreaming’ #2) cover reveal and excerpt

I’m so excited to be able to finally show you the cover for False Awakening, the second book in the Lucid Dreaming duology, my adult urban fantasy series. Kim Last of KILA Designs has designed all of my current book covers, and I love each one more than the last (IT HAS A DREAM CATCHER ON IT).

I can’t wait till I can hold this one, and maybe pat and fondle it a little.

(What?)

So, without further ado, here they are! But don’t just look at the pretties; while you’re here, check out an excerpt below.

Ebook cover

Paperback cover

Excerpt

Usually when I stepped into someone’s dreams just after they’d fallen asleep, I didn’t arrive in an active dream so much as in a place of significance in their subconscious: a proto-dream of sorts. The kind of place they’d have recurring dreams about. As a lucid dreamer, I didn’t have true recurring dreams—deliberately conjuring dreams of my favourite places didn’t count. But I was familiar with the concept. Jen had told me that, usually, when she remembered her dreams, she found they contained elements of her family home. Brad often dreamed of his grandparents’ house, where he’d spent a lot of time as a child.

That was why, when I appeared in a brightly lit department store, I raised my eyebrows. Huh. First job, maybe? I stood in an aisle full of bags of confectionary: liquorice sticks, mixed lollies, chocolate drops. But, in the fashion of dreams, everything was slightly off. When I focused on a rustling purple and yellow packet, trying to make out the brand name, the logo slid away from my gaze as if it didn’t want to be nailed down. Price tags were illegible: smeared or written in gibberish characters. And when I looked between the packages I didn’t see a backboard filled with mounting holes but sheer, impenetrable darkness.

The darkness gaped back at me.

With goosebumps shivering along the length of my forearms, I took a moment to prepare myself, sparing a thought and a shred of energy to conjure my set of trusty motorcycle leathers. I didn’t have any such thing in the real world, but in dreams I’d found they served quite well as armour against the barbs on a blight’s tentacles. A clear-faced, round helmet made me feel like an idiot but protected my eyes. I didn’t know for certain that there was a blight here, but something was definitely not right. Even if it was just a creepy manifestation of Daniel’s subconscious—even if he was indeed going crazy—it paid to be careful. Ephemera could still have teeth.

I crept towards the end of the aisle, leather squeaking faintly as I listened for the telltale bubbling hiss of a blight. Peering past a stand of round-bellied plastic animals stuffed with jellybeans, I saw a row of unattended registers to my left. To my right, clothes swayed in a breeze I couldn’t feel. In front of me was the store’s main entrance: the roller shutter was down, allowing the vague impression of a darkened mall beyond.

Deserted apartment stores were bloody creepy. Even ones with the lights on. Still, this didn’t look like a place a blight had trashed. Brad’s had shredded the surface of his dream, tearing holes in walls and coating everything with a mess that would do a slimy Ghostbusters spectre proud. This store was creepy, but trashed? No.

Like my thought made it happen, a corner of the store went dark as one fluorescent light, then another, went out with a pop and a tinkle of glass onto tile. “What the…?” I whispered, looking up.

That was when I spotted the blight.

It hung upside down from the ceiling, somewhere above the menswear section, like a deranged bat a few feet wide, made of smog. Its tentacles were jammed deep into the rectangular ceiling tiles; the tiles themselves were slick with an oily coating of blight ichor that dripped downwards, spattering across a garish display of novelty ties that hurt my eyes.

“Gross,” I said, my voice somewhat muffled behind the helmet’s faceplate. The blight turned, rotating slowly until its stained yellow eyes glared down at me.

Oneeiiiiroi,” the creature hissed.

“I was talking about those ties, but you’re gross too. You look like an evil Christmas ornament up there, you know.” I gathered power around my hands, threads of blue-white lightning encircling my wrists and licking down my fingers. The fine hairs on the back of my hands stood on end, tickling until I had to resist the urge to scratch them. I forced my back straight and my shoulders square so the blight wouldn’t see my energy flagging, draining into the lightning.

With a shriek so high it hurt my ears, the blight yanked downwards, its tentacles tearing ceiling tiles free to smash to the floor. One tile, three, five. Then dozens. Fluorescent lights exploded, plunging the store into gloom. Tiles shattered around me and jellybeans scattered like marbles. By the glow of my lightning charge, I darted towards a service counter, diving under the counter hatch. Huddling in my leathers and helmet, I barely fit.

I stared at the rain of tile fragments as it slowed, and then stopped. Each was coated on one side with blight ichor, as if the entire ceiling cavity had been filled with the blight’s contamination.

This blight hadn’t destroyed the surface of the dream. It had rotted its very bones.

Blurb

How can you fight your nightmares when they’re real?

Melaina, half-human dream therapist, just wants her life to return to normal. Yes, her Oneiroi father is in prison and, yes, the place she worked burned down, but she has a cute boyfriend and a new house. She beat the bad guy. She’s earned a break. Right?

Unfortunately for Melaina, people are still getting possessed by nightmare spirits; the police are investigating her past; and the bad guy’s brother, the Morpheus himself, is coming to town to demand answers. When a deranged ex-nurse checks himself out of hospital on the same day her cousin runs away from home, Melaina is dragged into a fight not just for her life but for her soul.

Add to your Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf today

 


Cover reveal for ‘False Awakening’ — sign-ups now available

It’s hard being the second sibling (or so my friends who are second siblings assure me). Certainly that seems to be true of books, too. For the longest time, Lucid Dreaming, first in my adult urban fantasy series, got all the attention, the cover, and the series named after it.

But now it’s time to shine for the second book in the series, False Awakening, with its very own cover made by the fabulous KILA Designs!

The cover reveal is scheduled for 7 May. You can sign up here, which is an excellent way to get to see it first!

And, to celebrate, I’m offering Lucid Dreaming free to reviewers in all ebook formats. You can sign up for THAT here, or just email me directly. I don’t bite.

Hard.

Seriously, I am so excited to be able to share this cover with you … almost as excited as I am at the idea of photographing the two books together, united at last! ❤

False Awakening blurb

Melaina, half-human dream therapist, just wants her life to return to normal. Yes, her Oneiroi father is in prison and, yes, the place she worked burned down, but she has a cute boyfriend and a new house. She beat the bad guy. She’s earned a break. Right?

Unfortunately for Melaina, people are still getting possessed by nightmare spirits; the police are investigating her past; and the bad guy’s brother, the Morpheus himself, is coming to town to demand answers. When a deranged ex-nurse checks himself out of hospital on the same day her cousin runs away from home, Melaina is dragged into a fight not just for her life but for her soul.

Goodreads


‘Isla’s Inheritance’ trilogy cover reveal

Isla’s Inheritance is my first book baby (well, book triplets, really, given it’s a trilogy), so I’m giddy with delight to be able to share the new covers with you. These were made by Kim Last from KILA Designs — the same wonder who made the Lucid Dreaming cover — so it should be no surprise to you that they are breathtaking.

Feast your eyes! Feast them!

All three covers


Isla’s Inheritance

Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own.

Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact her mother’s spirit. But the séance receives a chilling reply.

SHE IS NOT DEAD.

Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.

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Isla’s Oath

Australia is a long way from the Old World and its fae denizens … but not far enough.

Isla is determined to understand her heritage and control her new abilities, but concealing them from those close to her proves difficult. Convincing the local fae that she isn’t a threat despite her mixed blood is harder still. When the dazzling Everest arrives with a retinue of servants, Isla gets her first glimpse of why her mother’s people are hated … and feared.

But Isla isn’t the only one with something to hide. Someone she trusts is concealing a dangerous secret. She must seek the truth and stop Everest from killing to get what he wants: Isla’s oath.

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Melpomene’s Daughter

Isla struggles to embrace her fae nature while preserving her humanity in the final, exciting instalment of the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy. 

Isla has spent months persuading the Canberra fae that she isn’t a tyrant like her mother, trying to prove that—despite her mixed blood—she’s human, not a monster. That she’s one of them, not one of the high fae who enslaved them.

But a vision of a fresh-dug grave warns that someone is going to die.

When the Old World fae once again move against her family, seeking revenge for old wrongs, Isla will stop at nothing to keep those she loves safe. She just wants to be left alone. But to win that right for herself, her family and all Australian fae, she must cross the oceans and take the fight to the country of her birth.

Isla must prove she really is Melpomene’s daughter after all.

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Cover reveal: ‘Lucid Dreaming’

I do a few cover reveals on this blog, mostly for folks that I know and whose writing I adore. But this one is special, because it’s for ONE OF MINE!

*insert incoherent squealing here*

Who would have thought your dreams could kill you?

Melaina makes the best of her peculiar heritage: half human and half Oneiroi, or dream spirit, she can manipulate others’ dreams. At least working out the back of a new age store as a ‘dream therapist’ pays the bills. Barely.

But when Melaina treats a client for possession by a nightmare creature, she unleashes the murderous wrath of the creature’s master. He could be anywhere, inside anyone: a complete stranger or her dearest friend. Melaina must figure out who this hidden adversary is and what he’s planning – before the nightmares come for her.

Add on Goodreads

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Designer: KILA Designs

I have been wanting to share this book with you guys for more than a year now, so I’m delighted that it’s finally going to happen. To celebrate, here is a teaser! Noticed how I coordinated the colours? Because that’s how I roll. 😀

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Cover reveal: ‘Divided’ by Sharon M. Johnston

Sharon is one of my fellow Aussie Owned and Read bloggers (she’s the one that named Isla’s Oath for me, due to my chronic incompetence at naming things). I’m so pleased to see Divided coming on the market, and with a gorgeous cover; I’ve read this story before and really enjoyed it, because Ryder.

Also, I’m dead keen for the sequel. Get cracking, Sharon!

A new heart should mean new life, instead it’s a living nightmare.

Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, she has the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull her new dream world.

Yet, life starts to unravel when Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab, but she can’t ignore the strange instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.

Torn between love and obsession, Mishca must unite her divided heart and decide between the two men. But when the truth about her weird powers comes to light, she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.

Preorder here

DIVIDED full digital

Praise for Divided

“DIVIDED is a fast-paced adventure filled with mystery, romance, action, and humor. Mishca and Ryder rank up there with my favorite heroines and heroes ever! Sharon M. Johnston is an author to watch out for.”  — WENDY HIGGINS, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author.

Giveaway

Win one of four ecopies of Divided here.

About the author

From sunny Queensland in Australia, Sharon writes weird stories and soulful contemporaries across a number of categories. Working as a PR specialist by day, in her spare time she writes, blogs, plays with her fur babies and plays computer games with her family. She’s also been stalked by women wanted to know where she buys her shoes.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Sharon M. Johnston


Update on Lucid Dreaming

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me doing virtual cartwheels because I finished the final proofread of Lucid Dreaming. That means the manuscript is DONE. DONE, I SAY!

Well, except for the formatting. So almost done. :p

That means we’re on track for early November release. If you’ve got any kind of social media and would be interested in taking part in the cover reveal on 3 September, you can sign up here and the lovely Giselle will email you the info pack a couple days before. I’d love to have you. 🙂

Of course, that means I have more editing to do. This afternoon I’m going to get stuck into my first-round edit on the as-yet-unnamed fantasy inspired by Ancient Greece.

Who knows, maybe I’ll go crazy and name it too!

Lucid Dreaming Wordle

Lucid Dreaming chapter one word art courtesy of Wordle