Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Author M.C. Solaris

Rhyker’s Key
Orion’s Order 
Book Two
M.C. Solaris

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: M.C. Solaris LLC
Date of Publication: 12/21/20
ISBN: 9781952655050
Number of pages: 740
Word Count: 220,000

Cover Artist: Mayhem Cover Creations

Tagline: Sexy Shifters. Hot Vampires. Intriguing Immortals.

Book Description:

Rhyker, tattooed bad boy and lethal jaguar shifter, falls for the sweet and caring healer, Keena. Except, she’s determined to keep him in the friend zone... good thing he’s a predator that enjoys the hunt.

Together, can they heal their past and forge a future bonded with true love?


Orion’s Order returns in another addictive installment about their secret world of magic and mystery. A world where the most powerful words in the Universe are discovered in the fight against an ancient evil force.


I am haunted by my past mistakes. Mistakes that I have no idea how I even made. I am an educated mind and spirit healer after all. So how in the holy healer hell did I end up in a relationship where the male who I thought I loved…

Yeah, it’s probably best not to rehash those nightmares. But if I don’t dare open up that box to my past, then how am I ever going to be able to move on? Especially because I so want to move on with a certain sexy male. A male whose lips devoured mine in a darkened corner that one time. A male whose predatory piercing blue eyes practically track my every move. A male who I shouldn’t be fantasizing about every second of every day. Why? Because it would ruin me.


I’ve had my eye on a certain female for almost a year now. A female who is damn determined to keep me in the friend zone. A female who's been hurt by her ex but refuses to open up to me about it. So, you could say I go through a lot of smokes… a f*cking lot.

Meanwhile, my pack of lethally trained and skilled hunters and I are gunning for an evil SOB who not only signed his death warrant the second he tried to come after my pack sister and mate to our alpha, but also the f*cker poses a threat to our world as we know it. Yet, said ancient powerful bastard has gone off the grid and is all but impossible to track.

Oh, and did I mention that the past seems to be mixing with the present? I mean, the f*ck is this? The revenge year of the shitty exes? 

So, excuse me while I light up a smoke… or two. 

Devour this addictive series at your own risk...

+ Happily Ever After
+ Sexy Paranormal Jaguar Shifter Romance
+ Multiple POV
+ Mature Content
+ This series is meant to be read in order for the best reading experience
RHYKER’S KEY is an adult paranormal jaguar shifter romance. If you like swoon-worthy males, heroines with feminine strength, an engaging plot, satisfying relationships, steamy love stories, happy ever afters, and getting sucked into a supernatural story, then you’ll want to immerse yourself in the world of species!

Book Trailer:

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Excerpt 2

“Is everything okay?”

“Yeah,” he said, unsure where that question was coming from.

“I can feel otherwise but I won’t push.”

He cursed under his breath. Of course she could feel his lethal mood and the emotional storm he had been trying to keep at bay regarding the whole fucked-up Cecille situation. He set all of that aside and focused fully on Keena. Lately, she was the only thing that was helping to get his mind off the past.

“It’s just our case,” he added in a tone that was clear he wasn’t going to say anything else.

She nodded. “Understood. I’m here if you want to talk.”

“What if I don’t want to talk?” he drawled, pressing in close to her and sliding his hand to the nape of her neck.

Her lips parted at the close contact. Suddenly, all she could feel was the heated desire between them. He leaned down and claimed her mouth in a slow, smoldering kiss that took her breath away.

“Rhyker.” Her voice was a little breathy.

“Yeah?” He playfully nipped at her lower lip.

Wrapping her arms around his neck, she went in for the kiss and it was anything but slow. She slid her tongue against his and, suddenly, she had her legs wrapped around him with her back pressed up against the wall. He broke the kiss only to move his mouth to her neck. Her hands drifted through his thick and silky black strands as she moaned. The sensual sensations of his tongue on her neck and his body against hers shot through her body and straight to the apex of her thighs.

“Wait,” she managed to get out with just barely more than an exhalation of air. She knew that if she didn’t stop this soon then she wouldn’t have the strength to stop this from going any further. She wanted it to go further—a lot further, but she also wanted to take things slow.

He immediately halted and looked at her in a way that let her know she was in complete control of how far this went.

She could see the fiery desire in his now glowing, piercing blue eyes. “I want us to take this slow.”

His smirk was sinful. “We can go as slow as you’d like, Fire Gem.” His tongue made the slowest ascent from the curve of her neck all the way to her ear where it flicked her soft little lobe.

She shuddered.

“Is that slow enough for you?” he teased on a rough whisper.

She somehow managed to nod.

He repeated the motion. “I could lick you all day.” He smiled in satisfaction at the involuntary sound caught in the back of her throat. He slowly kissed his way back to her soft mouth and sucked on her bottom lip.

Using the last of his reserves, which were severely lacking when it came to this female, he allowed just enough space between them so she could slide down the length of his body until her feet were back on the ground. The friction and crackling desire pulsing between them had them sucking in heavy breaths.

About the Author:

M.C. Solaris’s life took an unexpected turn during the super blood moon eclipse on January 20, 2019. She woke up and began writing bios for her imaginary friends that she met that day. As soon as the pen hit the paper (or fingertips to the iPhone), she couldn’t stop. It was kind of like one of those fire hydrants, spewing copious amounts of water all over the place. The characters and their stories just flowed out of her. She is honored to be the scribe, getting to share her friends’ stories. You can read all about her gifted friends in the Orion’s Order series (Book 1 is Calypso’s Heart).

On a personal note, M.C. Solaris is actually the pseudonym of Marina Schroeder, women’s health enthusiast and lover of all things paranormal romance (PNR) and happily ever after (HEA). When she is not curled up on the sofa with her partner’s oversized hoodie, a PNR novel, peppermint tea, and one of her three cats, you will find her either at the ocean with her toes in the sand or in a forest hugging a tree. Well truthfully? There is one more place you might find her: trolling the aisles of Whole Foods for a satisfying combination of salty and sweet while hiding in her partner’s hoodie… like any proper PNR-writing introvert.

Want to get the latest scoop, sneak peeks, and short shares all about her imaginary friends? Go to and sign up for the newsletter.

Welcome to The Order!

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Monday, December 14, 2020

Author Laura Bickle

By Laura Bickle

The white stag
Hunted through years and centuries
Evades its pursuers, kings and huntsmen alike.
He has a more important mission.
He hunts too, you see
For the sun in winter.

He follows the sun south, 
Moving through forests blanketed by snow
Past trees stripped of leaves.
He searches out that cold orb in the sky,
Chasing it
Until it kisses the horizon on the solstice.

He captures it in his mighty antlers. 
And carries that glowing source of light and life
Past the darkness and snows
Into the new year
Into the warmth and possibilities of the future.

Morrigan’s Blood
Crow’s Curse 
Book One
Laura Bickle

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: Sept. 25, 2020
Number of pages: 188
Word Count: 57000

Cover Artist: Danielle Fine

Tagline: Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

Book Description: 

Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

As a trauma surgeon, Garnet Conners has seen more than her fair share of blood. But when one of her patients walks off the operating table and disappears into the night, she finds herself caught in a war between legions of vampires and witches in her city.

Garnet has dreamed of bloody battlefields for years – and a mysterious lover who controls a kingdom. In her waking life, Garnet is shocked to meet that man in a club. Merrel knows her from another life, a life in which she was the legendary Morrigan, goddess of death and war.

Garnet rejects the notion of magical incarnations altogether. But she falls in with Sorin, a handsome warlock who’s determined to protect the former bootlegger city of Riverpointe from a secret society of vampires. Haunted by crows and faced with undeniable proof of magic, Garnet scrambles to protect her career and loved ones from magical violence.

Abducted by vampires who seek to turn her into a vampire against her will, can Garnet seize the power of the legendary Morrigan to forge her own path in her embattled city? Or will she be forced to serve as a fearsome weapon in a deadly nocturnal war?

Excerpt Book One:

          “What have you got for me tonight, folks?” I asked.

            I backed through the doors of the operating theater, butt-first, gloved hands lifted before me to keep them clean. I took small steps, mindful not to lose traction. Those thin booties were slick, and I’d fallen on my ass on more than one occasion when I made sudden moves. Tonight, I was determined to get through surgery in an upright position and not have to scrub in twice.

            One of the nurses read from notes on a computer terminal. “This guy was found in the parking lot of a closed bowling alley. Speculation is that he took a trip or two through the pin setting machine and got badly torn up.”

            “Well, that’s a first.” I turned toward the operating room table. The light was so bright that hardly any shadows were cast in the room. They focused on the unholy mess on the middle of my table.

            This. I’m supposed to fix this.

            A man lay, unconscious, on the table. His chest was torn open, flaps of skin oozing onto wads of gauze and a paper sheet. His face was a mass of blood, now being daubed at with sponges. The anesthesiologist had found his mouth to thread a tube down, and someone had managed to get an IV started in one of his scraped-up arms.

            My nose wrinkled under my mask. “What do the X-rays show? How deep does the damage go? Did he get a CT?”

            A nurse clicked on a flatscreen monitor that displayed a carousel of CT images. I  squinted at them, muttering dark oaths.

            “Radiologist says it looks like a lacerated pancreas, punctured lung, and two rib fractures,” the nurse said. The image switched to the head, and he said: “Also the bonus of a fractured orbital bone.”

            I stared at the CTs. “Let’s start with that lung. We leave the pancreas, and call plastic surgery on that orbital bone. This guy’s going to need all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put him back together again.”

            “Will do.”

            I gazed down at the poor suffering bastard. I liked seeing the imaging, but I preferred to get a good visual with my own eyes on my patients. Sometimes X-rays and CTs didn’t tell me everything I needed to know about what to start sewing where. Something about seeing where the blood moved and pooled in an injured person gave me an idea of where to begin. The blood always led me to where I needed to direct my attention. Where it spurted required my immediate expertise. Where it clotted or moved lazily, I could wait a bit. When blood drained out of a limb and had left it white, I needed to add more. I noted with approval that he was already receiving a transfusion. As long as blood was moving, there was a chance for him

            I frowned at his chest and touched the edges of the rends in his flesh with gloved fingers. Those were ragged and would have to be cut clean before I sewed him back up. I could see the edge of one of those protruding ribs, sticking up like a finger. I glanced over his limbs, counting the usual four. Hey, it pays to count. Count twice, cut once. I mentally cataloged bruises and scrapes, nothing that needed my immediate attention, though I flagged the palms of his hands to get a few stitches from the surgical resident. Looked like defensive wounds, like the guy had tried to fight the pin machine, but lost.

            My eyes moved up to his face. One blackened eye was swollen shut. My fingers and gaze wandered over his scalp, checking for major wounds, when I spied a laceration at his throat.

            I gently probed it with gloved hands. Some kind of puncture…the machine must have caught him near a seeping vein. It had nearly dried up, smelling rusty and not like the bright, coppery blood of his more critical wounds. It could still take a few extra stitches.

            I stared down at the unfortunate guy’s oozing chest. Peeling back a flap of skin, I felt around for the collapsed lung. My finger quickly squished around and found the hole, and I extended my free hand for a scalpel. Time to get this party started…

            …when the patient sat bolt upright on the table. His good eye was open, rolling.

            I yanked my hands back and yelped at the anesthesiologist, “Curt, what the actual hell?”

            The OR erupted in a flurry of activity. The anesthesiologist arrived at the patient’s side with a syringe, while nurses tried to push the patient back down.

            But he was flailing, windmilling with his arms like a pro wrestler in the ring. The IV ripped out of his arm, and the line slashed back at the anesthesiologist, whipping across his face. The patient reached up and ripped the tube out of his throat. His foot caught an instrument tray, sending scalpels flying. His blood line yanked away, spewing crimson all over the floor.

            I held my hands out, using my most calming voice. Not that I had a particularly calming voice; I was a surgeon. We don’t talk to patients. But I tried: “You’re safe. I’m your doctor, Dr. Conners. If you just lie back, we’ll make you comfortable and—”

            The guy shrieked and launched himself off the table. The paper sheet tangled around his legs, and he grasped it around his waist as he put his shoulder down and aimed for the door. His shoulder hit me in the arm, and I slipped on my booties, landing on my ass on the tile floor. The patient launched through the swinging doors and disappeared down the hall.

            I swore and ripped my booties off my sneakered feet. I clambered to my feet and punched the intercom at the door with my elbow. “Security, code orange at OR 6.” I couldn’t say: I’ve got a runner taking off down the hall. Please send somebody to stop him, because anyone listening to that would freak the hell out, and I would get a talking-to from HR.

            I straight-armed the door and took off after the guy. I had no idea how the hell this man was still walking around. Those injuries should have flattened him, and he’d been anesthetized. I had graduated med school with Curt a few years ago, and knew him not to be a careless anesthesiologist who played on his phone in the OR.

            The patient skidded down the hallway, landing at a dead end, where a window overlooked the parking lot. The sun had just set, and the sky was the violet color of a fresh bruise. I approached him slowly, like I was herding a feral cat. I tugged my mask down to try and give him a human face to look at.

            “Hey, it’s okay. It’s gonna be okay,” I murmured soothingly. I wanted to keep him here until security arrived. If he got even further loose and hurt himself, that would be one obnoxiously long incident report. And an even more involved surgery after that.

            “No, no,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s not gonna be okay. The bloodsuckers found me…and the Lusine couldn’t protect me.”

            “I don’t know who that is,” I said, thinking that the guy had probably run afoul of some loan sharks. Maybe the mob? “But you’re safe here. We can protect you.”

            “No,” he gasped, his face twisted in agony. “No one can protect me. And no one can protect Emily.”

            He turned toward the window, backed up a few steps.

            “No, wait…” I could see what he was trying to do, and I was helpless to stop it.

            He rushed the window, aiming for it with his shoulder. All the latches on the hospital windows on patient floors were welded shut, but this wasn’t an area where conscious patients had access, and the window was not secured against suicide attempts. The glass buckled under his shoulder, the window crumpled away, and he pitched through in a hail of glass into the falling darkness.

            I rushed to the window and stared down at the parking lot in horror. Three stories down, the patient sprawled on the parking lot blacktop, flattened like a bug under a shoe.

            Curt had come up behind me. “Oh, my god, Garnet…did he…”

            “He jumped,” I said, my heart in my mouth. I turned and ran to the stairwell, barking at him. “Get a gurney and the ER team.”

            I burst into the stairwell, taking the steps two at a time. As I rounded the third curve, my path was blocked by a tall, dark-haired man in a brown velvet blazer and jeans. He was the type of guy that I might have liked to meet in my off-time—he had a kind of scholarly intensity in his hazel gaze and a bit of roguishness in the stubble that covered his sharp jaw.

            “Stand aside,” I blurted. “Emergency!” As if my bloody gloves and surgical gown weren’t warning enough.

            But he blocked my path, one hand on either stair rail, his long arms spanning the length of the stairwell. “That man is dangerous,” he growled softly.

            “That man is under my care,” I announced, lifting my chin. I walked into the man, figuring that he would give way to my outstretched bloody gloves. Like a normal person would.

.           But he didn’t. My sticky gloves nearly mashed into the velvet of his jacket, and he didn’t flinch. This close, he smelled like old books and moss.

            “You can’t go down there,” he said. His voice was soft, but insistent. 

            My eyes narrowed. “You don’t get to tell me where to go,” I chirped petulantly. I ducked under his arm, darting out of his reach, and barreled down the steps the remaining way to ground level.

            I rushed out into the parking lot and stopped short.

            “What the actual hell—”

            The patient peeled himself off the ground and crawled to his feet. He reminded me of a half-dead insect when he did so, shaking and rickety and dripping blood.

            That’s impossible, I thought. There was no way that a human being could do that. I took two steps toward him…

            …and a dozen people flitted out of the darkness, from the shadows beneath cars and behind shrubs. The overhead parking lot lights, haloed by moths, illuminated their long shadows on the pavement.

            I breathed a sigh of relief. The squad was here and would get him stable, get him back to my OR.

            But…my brow wrinkled. That wasn’t the squad. Nobody was in uniform. They converged on him as he turned, screaming.

            “Stop!” I shouted.

            Heads turned toward me. Their faces were moon-pale and glistening in the lamplight.

            The man in the velvet jacket grabbed my arm, dragging me back. “You want no part of this.”

            “Don’t tell me what I want,” I growled. I stomped on his instep and twisted my arm to break his grip at the weakest part, the thumb. I whirled and ran toward the fracas.

            The shadowy people had plucked my patient off the pavement, clotting around him.

            I yelled at them, the way I might yell at pigeons in the park who were eating my dropped French fries.

            Overhead, the parking lot lights shattered, one by one, in a series of pops. Someone had a gun. I flinched back, shielding my face from flying shards of plastic with my hands, as I was suddenly plunged into darkness. I heard fighting, yelling, as if a gang war had broken out in front of me, roiling in the dark where no one could see.

            Or at least, as dark as things could get in Riverpointe. Riverpointe was a decently sized city, and ambient light filtered back quickly from the freeway, headlights on the access road to the hospital, and the hospital’s helipad above.

            As my vision adjusted, I realized I was alone. The people who were trying to abduct my patient, my patient…even that fascinating-smelling velvet guy…all were gone. 

            Ambulance lights flashed at the end of the parking lot, approaching me. Behind me, I heard the hammering of footsteps on the stairwell. Security spilled out behind me, along with a few cops who’d been hanging out in the nurse’s lounge. The EMTs pulled up to the curb, and there were all of a sudden a couple dozen people churning in a uniformed cloud around me.

            “Where’d the guy go?” a security guard asked me.

            A moth that had once orbited the parking lot lights flitted down and smacked my face. I batted at it, grimacing.

            “I don’t know,” I whispered, stunned. “He was just…taken.”

            The moth landed on the ground on its back, wiggling.

            With bloody fingers, I picked it up and placed it gently in a nearby shrub. Lights, voices, and radios crackled around me. Questions rose and fell, directed at me in a tide of inquiries I couldn’t answer. But I stared at the bloody moth, stained by my touch, as it sought a safe place among the churning shadows and light.


Morrigan's Bite 
Crow's Curse 
Book 2
Laura Bickle  

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Publication Date: October 23, 2020
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing 

Book Description:

Becoming a vampire was the worst thing to ever happen to Garnet Conners. But does she have to become a monster, too?

Garnet had a beautiful life…and it was stolen from her when she was turned into a vampire against her will. Once a successful trauma surgeon with good friends, she now finds herself hiding out in the basement of a coven house governed by hostile witches. Struggling with her vampiric urges, she despairs of ever returning to her former life.

Garnet’s discovered that she’s an incarnation of the legendary Morrigan. She dreams in blood, of the Morrigan’s other bloodthirsty incarnations over the centuries. Garnet’s dreams reveal her previous existence as Erzebet Bathory, and Garnet fears becoming that monster once again.

With the help of the witches, she attempts to learn to use her magical powers to control her vampiric nature…an experiment that ends in disaster. When her sister and friend go missing, Garnet knows she’s being hunted by vampires who will stop at nothing to bring her back into their fold.

Merrel, the vampire who turned her, offers her a bargain. He will return the abducted women, but Garnet must agree to spend three nights with him, training as a vampire. Garnet reluctantly accepts, but she fears giving in to her vampire nature and becoming the killer of the previous lifetime she’s reliving in her dreams.

Morrigan's Bond 
Crow's Curse 
Book 3
Laura Bickle  

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Publication Date: November 19, 2020
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC 

Book Description:

To end the war between vampires and witches, Garnet must battle the queen of the vampires, a woman who the Morrigan narrowly escaped in the skies of World War II.

Garnet Conners, incarnation of the legendary Morrigan, has pieced her life back together. After being turned into a vampire against her will, she’s quit her career as a surgeon and taken a job on the night shift at the city morgue. To her dismay, victims of vampires are piling up at the morgue…including the body of the vampire who turned her, Merrel.

Merrel’s faked his own death to set into motion a plot to wrest control of Riverpointe’s vampires from their queen, Varya. If Garnet helps him, he promises to move the vampires away from Riverpointe entirely, leaving Garnet and her lover, the warlock Sorin, in peace.

But Garnet’s haunted by dreams of her prior incarnations as Alix, one of the pilots of the fabled Night Witches in World War II. Alix fought Varya during the war… and was nearly destroyed by her. Varya held a magical artifact hostage, the magical sword Durendal, which she still uses to control the Asra hive of vampires.

When the vampires burn down the witches’ coven house, Garnet and her allies must locate the vampires’ stronghold. She, Merrel, and the surviving witches must rip Durendal away from Varya…or the city and all its supernatural inhabitants will be devoured in flames.

About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs and sometimes reads them to her cats. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Laura’s work has also been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. The latest updates on her work can be found at

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Monday, December 7, 2020

Author Brooklyn Ray

Maple Roasted Carrots with Cardamom and Goat Cheese

The perfect dish for Yule or Christmas celebrations—a delightful recipe for my root veggie dish!

What You’ll Need:

•         1/2 Cup of Maple Syrup

•         1/2 Cup of Goat Cheese

•         A Bundle of Organic Carrots—6-12

•         1 Tablespoon of Cardamom

•         Teaspoon Black Pepper

•         Teaspoon Cinnamon

•         1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

•         Fresh Thyme, Sage and Rosemary

What You’ll Do:

•         Pre-heat oven to 325

•         Wash Carrots in lukewarm water

•         Place Carrots in a medium-deep backing tin

•         Pour in maple syrup and coconut oil and evenly coat carrots

•         Sprinkle all spices and mix thoroughly

•         Stuff herbs between and under carrots

•         Bake for 25-30 minutes

•         Once out of the oven, move carrots to a clean plate, drizzle with sauce from baking tin and add thumb-sized dollops of goat cheese on top of carrots

•         Add salt and petted to taste

Full Moon in Leo
Brooklyn Ray

Genre: Queer Holiday Romance

Date of Publication: October 1, 2020ISBN: 9798681122579ASIN: B08H1P6X2RNumber of pages: 210Word Count: 65,000

Cover Artist: BookCoverZone

Tagline: Small-town magic, two heavy hearts—one unforgettable winter solstice

Book Description:

Cole Morrison left Jewel's snow-covered fir trees ten years ago. But after a disastrous family Thanksgiving, Jewel seems like the only place left to go. When a run-in with a gorgeous stranger leaves him with debt to pay, Cole’s escape from his past turns out to be much more than a lonely Christmas vacation.

Jesse Carroway, the local Jewel witch, has been running his family's successful, small-town Apothecary ever since his grandmother passed away. When Cole stumbles into his shop and accidentally wrecks a good portion of his inventory, Jesse does the only thing he can possibly think of—offers Cole a job and himself some help for the upcoming holiday rush.

Cole’s clumsy with candles and doesn't trust easily, but soon Jesse gets a peek at the guy behind his bad-boy reputation. As the nights lengthen toward Yule, Jesse wonders if magic is to blame or if Cole might've fallen into his life for a reason…


Honeycomb littered the counter.

Jesse sprinkled golden shards into the scrub and closed his eyes, imagining prosperity and hope and truth, the ingredients needed to solidify the spell, cocooning around each piece of salt. The spell shifted. Strengthened. Like a lock, the honeycomb sealed everything in place.

“Will that work?” Cole asked. He crouched next to the reassembled shelf, scratching idly behind Waffles’ ear.

A smile pulled his mouth upright. “Yeah, it’ll work.”

“What happens now?”

“We package everything, tie a pretty bow around the jars, and put them out. Here, I’ll show you how to shelve product. Use the wooden spoons and scoop the salt into the jar. Fill it to…right about”—Jesse tapped the jar an inch below the top—“there.”

Cole followed directions easily. Every movement was slow, deliberate and precise, mirroring Jesse as best he could. Once they’d finished, Jesse showed him how to tie a bow around the lid with thin-cut burlap.

“I’m not great at this,” Cole said through a grimace, fiddling with a sad, droopy bow.

“Don’t think too much.” Jesse batted his hands away and undid the bow, retying it with practiced ease. “If you try to make it perfect it’ll look forced and…” He smoothed out the burlap, tipping his head back and forth as he searched for the right words. “Disingenuous. I mean, that’s pretty solid advice around here. Magic is messy and weird, but it’s honest. It never tries to be something it isn’t. Same with candle making and bath bombs and everything else. Don’t dwell on making your gift wrap look exactly like mine, just do your best to make it pretty.”

“I don’t exactly know how to make things pretty, Jesse.”

Jesse tied a bow, a little crooked, but good enough. He untied it again and handed the burlap to Cole. “Try again.” Cole held the ribbon so tight his hands quivered. Jesse could almost feel it—bones apprehended, too tense and strained to do any good. “Okay, hold on. You’re, like, ridiculously tense.” He heaved a sigh. “Can I try something?”

Cole’s flighty gaze swept to Jesse’s face. “Something?”

Jesse pushed the packaged jars aside and placed the stone bowl on the counter between them. He glanced over one shoulder. Then the other. There. He snatched the water bottle. “Can I see your hands?”

Cole didn’t move at first. His jaw flexed. Caution flared behind his eyes. Jesse waited, nodding from his open palm, dangling over the bowl, to Cole’s, twitching on the counter. His hesitation remained, even as he unbuttoned his cuffs and let Jesse take his hand.

Carefully, Jesse smoothed the leftover salt scrub over Cole’s knuckles, pulled one hand closer and pressed his thumbs to the center of Cole’s palm. Like this, guarded and entirely human, Cole gentled. His shoulders relaxed. Tension drained from his fingertips. Jesse focused on his hands, each one, pushing and kneading while Cole stood entirely too still, attention fixed on him.

The apothecary went quiet. Sometimes pressing trust through skin held more power than smiles or stories. As he worked the salt into Cole’s calloused hands, Jesse realized he probably hadn’t been touched this tenderly in a long, long time.

“Do these mean anything?” Jesse traced the edge of the koi fish tattoo on his left hand. Laced their fingers. Squeezed.

Cole’s throat bobbed when he swallowed. “Apparently they bring good fortune. Figured I could use some of that.”

“And this one?” He took Cole’s other hand, touched the wolf on his forearm, then went back to massaging the base of his fingers.

“I’ve been a lone wolf since I was young.”

“Wolves usually run in packs, right?”

“Usually,” Cole said, voice hushed and low.

Jesse wanted to read his palm. He wanted to map Cole’s past and future, find where his heart line met his destiny, just to test the universe. Is this a coincidence, he wanted to ask. Is there even such thing? He poured water over Cole’s hands and washed the scrub away.


Cole wrung his hands. “Yeah, much better.”

“Try again.”

This time, Cole’s hands moved fluidly, pulling a pretty bow into place. He smiled at the jar. Pride looked good on him. “Did you cast a spell on me?” he asked, grinning.

Jesse’s stomach fluttered. Don’t blush. He aimed his laughter at the ceiling and shook his head. Don’t you dare. “Not yet.” He reached for the keys in the drawer below the cash wrap and twirled them around his finger. “See you tomorrow?”

Cole’s brows twitched and his lips parted, but he cleared his throat and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll see you in the morning.”

Jesse wanted to ask him what he’d planned to say—what he wanted to say. “Goodnight, Cole.”

Cole knelt to pet Waffles before he shrugged on his jacket. He tossed a smile over his shoulder, footsteps crunching through snow on the sidewalk.

Jesse let out a deep breath. He glanced at Waffles, who sat on her haunches, staring back at him.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he whispered, and rolled leftover salt between his fingers.



About the Author:

Brooklyn Ray (they/them) is a fan of fresh brewed tea, long walks through the woods, and evenings spent reading sexy books. They write Queer Paranormal Romance and Erotica about witches, necromancers, and other magical creatures, and moonlight as a tarot and palm reader in the Pacific Northwest.

Find them on Instagram @brooklynrayauthor
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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Author Melanie Snow

The Spellwood Witches Winter Solstice Brew Recipe 

The Spellwood Witches take their holidays seriously. One of their favorite recipes is their special blend of herbs, spices, and a special ingredient to celebrate the Winter Solstice on top of Mount Katribus.

Not only will this amazing drink taste delightful, but it will also soothe your soul. The witches recommend you also share this with friends and family. It has brandy in it, so make sure you let your coven members know who don’t drink alcohol.

This also works as a wonderful solstice gift. After the infusion is complete, you can put the amber liquid into jars and decorate as you wish.

But like the witches, make sure you give yourself enough time to make this brew because you will need five to six weeks for the magic to happen.

Now fire up your cauldrons’ and let’s get brewing.


4 cups of a high-quality brandy (don’t use the cheap stuff as the taste will not be as magical)

1 cinnamon stick about 8-10 inches long

1 vanilla bean or 2 TBS of pure vanilla extract (don’t use imitation vanilla extract as it will the taste won’t be as wonderful)

2 TBS of cacao chips (organic and raw are best and add more if you want to have more chocolate taste)

2 star anise pods (anise pods look like a flower so use the entire pod)

4 organic oranges (wash well and dry then chop them up into 4-6 pieces each)

20 black pepper corns  

1 TBS of Pure Maple Syrup (always use pure instead of imitation)


1.       Gather all your ingredients in a clean, odor free wide-mouth jar. If you have a cauldron with an air-proof lid that would be fun as well. Label your jar, cap tightly. Then find a cool, dark place for two weeks. The witch’s like to place crystals around their jars to give it an extra boost.

2.       While your infusion is brewing shake every day for two weeks.

3.       After two weeks strain the material through a fine-mesh strainer or coffee filter. Return the brew to its jar, recap tightly, put it back in a cool, dark place, and let it mellow for three more weeks.

4.       After the three weeks you can put the liquid in gift jars to give away to friends and family, drink immediately, or refrigerate or store in a cool dark pantry.

There you have it. As you celebrate the Winter Solstice make sure you have some of this special brew straight from the cauldron of The Spellwood Witches.

Tail of a Feather
The Spellwood Witches 
Book Three
Melanie Snow

Genre:  Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Spirit Paw Press, LLC
Date of Publication:  10-6-20
ISBN: 978-1-7324375-8-6
Number of pages:  225
Word Count: 44644
Cover Artist: Molly Burton

Tagline: A witchy sleuthhound. An enemy from the past. A threat to everything she loves…

Can Sarah stop the mayhem of Witchland before it is too late?

Book Description: 

A mysterious portal. Eight crows with a message. A missing police chief.

Sarah Spellwood feels she maybe too late to save her beau, the handsome police chief Eli Strongheart, from disappearing from Witchland forever. But with the wisdom of eight crows, she and her collie sidekick, Addie, focus on their mysterious task ahead. Yet time is running out and the tension rises when they discover there is more to the mysterious portal than they expected. 

As the clues fly, Sarah is shocked to learn that Madras Spellwood is trying to get back into Witchland to take over its beauty and magic. But Sarah and Addie are vowed defenders of the forest, and they will not let Madras succeed, or Eli get away. 

Can Sarah save Eli and beat Madras at the same time?

Tail of a Feather is book three in the magical Spellwood Witches cozy mystery series. If you like paranormal puzzles, charming canine companions, and a bit of flirty romance, then you will love Melanie Snow’s crafty quest.

Buy Tail of a Feather and take flight into the magical world of Witchland today!

Chapter 1

            Sarah snuggled into her jacket and relished the slight sting of the cold on the tip of her nose. Autumn was washing Witchland in rich oranges, browns, and yellows, and little frost crystals coated the ground in the morning. The scent of pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice espresso treats wafted continuously out of Javacadabra, where Susie and Karen worked tirelessly to delight the taste buds of the town with the help of their familiar, a talking white cat named Zeva.

            Holding her tea latte between her palms to warm them, Sarah kept pace with Eli as they began the trek up the Mount Katribus trail. Sarah’s canine familiar, Addie, padded along at her side. “I wonder why I love autumn so much.” Sarah sighed contentedly.

            “Because you’re a witch,” Eli teased, his gorgeous blue eyes twinkling as he smiled at her.

            He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and she snuggled in close. Addie looked up at them, love in her soft brown eyes. “I must say your warmth for each other is keeping me warm,” Addie joked.

 Though Eli couldn’t hear her, he was starting to get to know the loyal collie mix well, and he asked her, “Where is your boyfriend, Kelvin, huh, girl?”

Addie barked happily when she heard the name Kelvin. “He’s in the woods, hunting rabbits,” she answered, which Sarah repeated to Eli so he could hear.

“Girls always love the bad boys. Or, in your case, the bad wolves,” Eli said.

“So Jenna did the rounds this morning? There’s no sign of Madras?” Sarah asked as the trail they were walking on began to incline up the mountainside. Eli Strongheart was the police chief of Witchland, and Jenna Mora was his deputy.

“Not a sign,” Eli replied. “Tonight is my turn . . . I imagine these woods make you a bit nervous now, don’t they?”

Sarah shrugged. “Not at all, actually. I love the woods so much that I won’t let my wicked great-great-great-whatever-aunt ruin them for me. Besides, I feel so much more confident knowing that I defeated her. That she’s banished for good.”

Eli smiled. “We always try our best to keep these woods safe. Even the greatest demon witch of all time can’t defeat our team.”

“So . . . I was thinking. I invited my parents to my house for a little dinner in two days. Would you like to join us?” Sarah went on. She had felt slightly apprehensive about inviting Eli, since they were a new couple. The last thing she wanted to do was scare him off. But she knew in her heart that Eli was in it for the long haul, and that made it easier to come out and say things, even things that made her nervous.

“Of course,” Eli said, looking slightly taken aback. “Any weird quirks I should prepare for?”

“Um, definitely don’t talk politics with my dad.” Sarah laughed. “It could get pretty heated. Also, let’s keep the magic talk to a minimum.”

“I thought you told them that you’re practicing witchcraft?” Eli said.

“I did. But it’s a touchy subject. You know that my father tried so hard to put distance between himself and the Spellwood legacy.” Sarah shrugged. “They’re accepting, but I just don’t want to make them super uncomfortable.”

“I think you should just be yourself,” Eli said gently. But then he added, “Although, I probably wouldn’t talk about witchcraft to my mom, either. She’s probably a far worse denier than your parents.”

“Well, my parents don’t deny it. They just don’t practice it. The last time was at my aunt Beth’s when we visited her, right before she passed away and I started seventh grade.” Sarah suddenly stopped in the middle of the trail. Addie, who was wandering slightly ahead, turned back and looked at her expectantly. “Let’s go visit Aunt Beth’s. I haven’t been able to bring myself to go since I moved here,” said Sarah.

“Your aunt Beth’s house? Well, sure,” Eli said, again taken aback. He laughed as they changed course and began to walk toward the small goat farm Beth Spellwood ran. “I love how spontaneous you are.”

“I haven’t seen her farm in so long, and I really miss that place. That was where I first discovered I had powers, and I was very close with my aunt.” As Sarah attempted to remember her way through the maze of trails to the farm she had not visited since she was twelve, she regaled Eli with tales of Aunt Beth, including Aunt Beth’s talking pet goat.

“So that was the original Addie,” Eli commented.

Hey! No one is like me,” Addie protested.

“That is true. You are one unique dog,” Sarah assured Addie, who blinked at her happily.

They finally broke through the tree line and came upon a fence, which was sagging with the weight of the ivy growing on it. It enclosed a generous pasture with a goat shed in the center of it. Now, in place of the milk goats Aunt Beth had raised, there were two cows chewing cud listlessly. Beyond that, stood the modest farmhouse where Aunt Beth had lived, and where she and Sarah’s father had grown up. Smoke curled from the chimney.

“So many memories.” Sarah exhaled, feeling both joy and sorrow at the sight of her long-gone childhood. “I hope the family living here is happy.”

“Too bad we can’t go inside,” Eli commented.

“I suppose we could always knock and ask.” Sarah shrugged. She glanced at Eli, and when he agreed, she led him around the fence to the front door of the house. “Ah, I forgot about this knocker,” she said, tracing the bronze gargoyle knocker with her fingertip after knocking. “I always thought it was so cool, but now I realize how out of place it was against this modest little house.”

A woman carrying a baby on her hip opened the door. The minute she saw Sarah, her face softened in recognition. “You must be the little girl in all of those photos we found in the attic,” she cried. “Beth Spellwood’s niece?”

“Yes,” Sarah said happily. “You found pictures?”

“Well, yes, we did, and we have them. We tried to send them to family, but we couldn’t find an address. Come on in!” The woman stepped aside and ushered Sarah and Eli into the house. “Oh, hello,” she greeted Addie, also welcoming her inside.

“Puppy!” several kids cried as they flocked around the dog. Addie rolled on the floor and showed her belly happily as the kids scratched it.

“My kids love dogs, as you can see.” The woman laughed. “I’m Meg, by the way.” She set the baby down and shook Eli’s and Sarah’s hands as they introduced themselves. Then she excused herself to retrieve the pictures. “You can take a look around, if you want,” she called over her shoulder.

Sarah stepped into the kitchen. “The cauldron is gone.” She sighed, noticing the open fireplace with its hanging cauldron was now replaced with an oven. The fridge was also new and covered in kids’ art, with none of the strange recipes and spells that Aunt Beth kept on it.

Eli placed a comforting hand on her elbow. “You can’t expect it to be the same.”

“I know. It’s just so different.” Sarah sighed, breathing in the smell of the macaroni bubbling on the stove for lunch. “Well, actually, it seems like a happy home, and I’m just glad these people love it.”

Meg reappeared with the photos. “Here you go!”

Sarah smiled as she sifted through them. “That was my goat!” she cried, showing Eli the photo of the black-and-white goat hanging his head over her shoulder.

“You were cute,” Eli said. “So many freckles.” Teasingly, he touched her cheek, pretending to count the freckles she still had.

“She sure was,” Meg said, nodding her head in agreement. Then she added in an undertone, “Do you want to go upstairs? I have to ask you about some things about this house . . .”

Sarah and Eli followed Meg up the narrow staircase to a landing. Meg paused in front of a door. “Um, I hate to mention this, but . . . I know the reputation of Lativia Spellwood.”

Sarah smiled and nodded. “That is my ancestor, and the founder of Witchland.” Then she narrowed her eyes knowingly. “Let me guess, weird things happen around this house?”

“Yes, well, Neil and I don’t—well, we didn’t believe in that stuff. Not at all. But after moving here . . .” Meg bit her lip, looking nervously from Sarah to Eli.

“We don’t think you’re crazy, don’t worry,” Sarah assured her. “Weird things happen in Witchland, and especially in this house. It did house three generations of witches.” She and Eli exchanged knowing glances and then laughed, sharing memories of the many magical misadventures they had been on together in their efforts to protect Witchland from both Madras and greedy developers.

“Oh, good. I wasn’t sure where you stood with all of that.” Meg laughed nervously and gathered her hair into a ponytail. “Well, you see, we took the master bedroom here and . . .” She opened the door and pointed within.

Sarah stepped into her aunt’s old bedroom. As if she were a child again, she could remember the four-post bed that took up most of the space, and the rolltop desk where Aunt Beth sat to pay her bills and write letters. Though the décor was different, the atmosphere of the room still felt like Aunt Beth: calm, sweet, earthy, loving. Tears welled up in Sarah’s eyes.

“We keep cutting them back.” Meg led them to the window, where several flowers emerged from the wooden frame, vibrant and colorful. They were growing without soil and without water. “We’re not really sure how they keep growing.”

Sarah touched one of the blue flowers gently. “My aunt Beth loved her flowers, her garden, her goats. She was part of nature—so it seemed.” She turned to Meg. “These are enchanted flowers that she grew because she thought they were pretty. The only way to remove them would be to break the enchantment.”

“Oh.” Meg looked worried. “I have no idea how to do that.”

“I can bring some friends of mine by who can do that. If you don’t mind, can I have them?” Sarah imagined planting them in her own room and always having a piece of Aunt Beth near her.

“Of course! I would hate to kill them, but it’s just, well . . .” Meg shrugged haplessly. “Not our choice of décor. I hope that doesn’t offend you.”

“I get it.” Sarah nodded. “It is your home now.”

“Um, there’s one other thing.” Meg led them into the bathroom next and pointed to the blue tiles over the clawfoot bathtub, where Sarah had spent many afternoons pretending she was a mermaid in a frothy ocean of soap bubbles, with an army of rubber duckies to do her bidding.

Sarah smiled softly as she ran her fingers along the porcelain of the tub, entranced by her memories. Eli watched her, vicariously enjoying her reminiscing through the expressions on her face.

Meg turned on the shower. Gradually, words began to form across the tiles as the steam started to bloom from the water. Sarah squinted and realized that it was a spell for making the room smell like roses. Just as soon as she read the spell in her mind, the bathroom flooded with the flowery scent. “Aunt Beth’s scent,” Sarah murmured. “I always just thought it was a perfume.”

It’s strong, like Margaret and Hua’s greenhouse,” Addie complained, backing away toward the door.

“Any way you can break this enchantment? We love this scent, but . . .” Meg again looked hapless.

Sarah acquiesced and said a quick spell to erase the enchantment.

Spell be gone,

You have grown wan.

You have done well,

But it’s no time to dwell.

Instantly, the words began to unfurl and stretch until they made a popping sound like bubbles and ran down the walls in streams of black ink. Then the ink grew clear and disappeared. The rose scent began to gently fade. If only I could capture that scent in a bottle, Sarah thought. I have to enchant my bathroom to do that so that I can always smell Aunt Beth’s rose scent.

“I’m so sorry, and thank you so much,” Meg said profusely as she showed them out. She handed Sarah the pictures in a bundle.

“Thank you for letting us inside and these pictures. I’ll definitely treasure them. I’ll come back with my friends, Margaret and Hua, later. They will transplant the flowers for you and remove the enchantment,” Sarah promised.

As she, Eli, and Addie walked back into town, Sarah sighed. “It’s so hard to let go of the past and watch things change. I sure miss my aunt Beth.”

“Can you visit her, you know, in that ghostly clearing?” Eli inquired. He was referring to the place where ghosts communed with Lativia Spellwood’s ghost on the top of Mount Katribus.

“She moved on to the other side,” Sarah said sadly. Then she interlaced her fingers with Eli’s and cuddled against his muscular shoulder. “I miss her, but I know she’s in a good place. And I’m very happy with how my life is now. I can only embrace the present.”

Eli kissed the top of her head, and Sarah felt happy. “I think Aunt Beth would have adored you,” she told Eli. 

About the Author: 

Melanie Snow is the pen name for Wendy Van de Poll, a bestselling author, pet loss grief coach, and animal medium. She is the author of The Spellwood Witches, a paranormal cozy mystery series. 

Her books weave together positive magic, snarky forest faeries, and insightful animals with fun and eclectic humor. True life adventures and intuition are woven into her stories laced with unbridled imagination. She has been followed by wild wolves in minus sixty degrees, hissed at by a mama bobcat, and played ball with a wild owl—among other animal encounters. 

Find out more about her work at:  

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