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Disruption Ahead for iTunes, Google Play? Updated Amazon Cloud Player Includes New Scan and Match Technology, Free Audio Quality Upgrades, and More

Over the past five years much of the battle to sell digital content (ebooks, music, video and apps) has been about devices (Kindle, iPod, iPad, etc.), and what has not been about devices has been about platforms.
But the next phase will be every bit as much about whose cloud we’re on, so it is no surprise that Amazon is taking giant steps to make it as inviting as possible for us to use its cloud (rather than Apple’s, Google’s, or somebody else’s) to enjoy the content we have purchased in the past, anywhere and on any device, no matter what device we may have been using when we acquired the content.

Among the exciting new features:

Amazon scans customers’ iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries and matches the songs on their computers to Amazon’s 20 million song catalog. All matched songs – even music purchased from iTunes or ripped from CDs – are instantly made available in Cloud Player and are upgraded for free to high-quality 256 Kbps audio. Music that customers have already uploaded to Cloud Player also will be upgraded.

Here’s the guts of the press release from Amazon today – please read carefully, because this is very likely to make for big — and positive — changes in the way you use your Kindle Fire and/or other devices to enjoy music, video, apps, and ebooks:


Amazon announces licenses from Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and more than 150 independent distributors, aggregators and music publishers



Coming soon, Roku and Sonosfollowing the recent addition of iPhone and iPod Touch, Roku and Sonos will join the list of Cloud Player compatible devices




SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul. 31, 2012– (NASDAQ: AMZN) – Amazon.com, Inc. today announced Cloud Player licensing agreements that bring significant updates to Amazon Cloud Player. The agreements are with Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and more than 150 independent distributors, aggregators and music publishers. Amazon’s scan and match technology gives customers a fast and easy way to get all of their music from their computers to the cloud. Cloud Player customers can then enjoy their music on their favorite devices, including Kindle Fire, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android devices and any web browser, and soon, Roku streaming players and Sonos home entertainment systems.



New Cloud Player features include:


  • Amazon MP3 purchases — including music that customers purchased in the past — are automatically saved to Cloud Player, which means that customers have a secure backup copy of the music they buy from Amazon, free of charge.
  • Amazon scans customers’ iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries and matches the songs on their computers to Amazon’s 20 million song catalog. All matched songs – even music purchased from iTunes or ripped from CDs – are instantly made available in Cloud Player and are upgraded for free to high-quality 256 Kbps audio. Music that customers have already uploaded to Cloud Player also will be upgraded.
  • Any customer with a Kindle Fire, Android device, iPhone, iPod touch, or any web browser — and soon, a Roku streaming player or Sonos home entertainment system — can play their music anywhere.


“We are constantly striving to deliver the best possible customer experience for Cloud Player, and today we are offering our customers a significant set of new features, including scan and match technology and audio quality upgrade,” said Steve Boom, Vice President of Digital Music at Amazon.


“We are happy to have such broad industry support in enabling these features for customers.”



“Music fans are passionate consumers, so making it as easy as possible for them to buy music and enjoy it anywhere, anytime and on any device, is important to us,” stated Rob Wells, President of Global Digital Business at Universal Music Group. “And Amazon’s new service does just that by enabling fans to find, discover and experience more music than ever before. UMG is committed to working with innovative services like Amazon to provide consumers more choice and to expand the marketplace even further for digital music.”



“Amazon is an important destination for music fans, and we’re pleased to see them creating innovative music services that offer fans the ability to enjoy their music conveniently on all their devices,” said Mark Piibe, Executive Vice President of Global Business Development for EMI Music. “Cloud Player makes it easy for users to have their entire music collection at their fingertips wherever they are, so that they’ll get even more value from the music they buy, and will form an even deeper connection with the artists they love.”



“Cloud technology is producing a powerful new generation of entertainment experiences, making the discovery of new content easier and offering instant access to music across multiple devices. Amazon’s locker service has an impressive set of capabilities, which expand the value of owning music. It will give fans greater flexibility with their libraries and entice new customers to explore the benefits of a digital collection,” said Stephen Bryan, Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy & Business Development, Recorded Music, Warner Music Group.



“We are excited to be working with Amazon to offer consumers the ability to enjoy their music anywhere—on any device—with Cloud Player,” said Dennis Kooker, President, Global Digital Business and U.S. Sales, Sony Music Entertainment. “Amazon continues to innovate on behalf of music fans, and we believe our new licensing agreement makes it easier and more convenient than ever for Amazon customers to access, discover and ultimately buy more music.”



Cloud Player is available in a Free tier and a Premium tier. Cloud Player Free customers can store all MP3 music purchased at Amazon, plus import up to 250 songs from their PC or Mac to Cloud Player, all at no charge. Cloud Player Premium customers can import and store up to 250,000 songs in Cloud Player for an annual fee of $24.99. Amazon-purchased MP3s (including all previous purchases) do not count against the 250 or 250,000-song limits and will be added to both Free and Premium Cloud Player libraries at no charge. Amazon Cloud Player is automatically integrated into Kindle Fire and the new Cloud Player features will be automatically delivered to Kindle Fire users over the next few days.


Customers can also visit www.amazon.com/cloudplayer or download the app on iOS or Android.


Starting today, Cloud Drive will be used for file storage and Cloud Player will be used for music storage and playback — each service will offer separate subscriptions. Customers can still use Cloud Drive to store any of their files in the cloud and access them from any web browser or by using the Cloud Drive Desktop Apps. Customers can store up to 5GB free and storage plan prices have been lowered to start at $10 per year for 20 GB. To learn how to get started on Cloud Drive visit www.amazon.com/clouddrive/learnmore.

Publetariat Dispatch: What was San Francisco like in 1880? The Economy

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, historical fiction author M. Louisa Locke shares some of her research findings about life in 1880’s San Francisco.

This is the first in a multi-part series describing San Francisco in 1880. For those of you who have read either Maids of Misfortune or Uneasy Spirits, or my short stories,  this will provide you with some deeper understanding of the city where  my main characters, Annie Fuller and Nate Dawson, lived as children in  the 1860s and returned to as adults in the 1870s. If you are not  familiar with my Victorian San Francisco mystery series, I hope these  historical pieces will pique your interest––although I promise my  fiction is much livelier reading. All the material quoted below is from  my thesis, “Like a Machine or an Animal: Working Women of the Far West  in the Late Nineteenth Century,” University of California: San Diego  dissertation, 1982 pp. 60-69.”  I must say, it is much more entertaining  to convey historical information through fiction than heavily footnoted  fact!

Part One: The San Francisco Economy

“In 1880 San Francisco, with a  population of 233,959 residents, was the ninth largest city in the  United States. Located at the end of the peninsula that separates the  Bay of San Francisco from the Pacific Ocean, this city of hills, sand  dunes, fogs, and mild temperatures had been only a small village called  Yerba Buena less than forty years earlier.  This small village was one  of the chief beneficiaries of the incredible influx of people into the  region after the discovery of gold to the north in the winter of  1847-48.”

[For those of you who have read Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits––Annie  Fuller, her parents, her Aunt and Uncle, and her housekeeper, Beatrice  O’Rourke, were among those who traveled west and settled in San  Francisco in those first years.]

“Commerce dominated San Francisco’s  economic structure through out the nineteenth century. Its fine natural  harbor and its location near both ocean shipping lanes and interior  river routes stimulated much of the city’s early economic growth. The  city served as the port of entry for the massive flow of people and  goods into the region during the Gold Rush, and once agriculture  developed in the interior in the 1860′s San Francisco also became the  major port to handle goods shipped out of the region. The disruption in  trade resulting from the Civil War further promoted the development of  agriculture in the Far West, and San Francisco merchants worked hard in  the 1850s and 1860s to ensure that all goods entering or leaving the  region passed through their hands. By and large they were successful,  and their control of the region’s trade remained firm until the  completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. As late as 1875,  San Francisco still handled at least ninety percent of all the goods  leaving the state and a major share of the trade leaving the Northwest.”

“As a commercial port city, San  Francisco first developed manufacturing that centered around supplying  shipping needs and processing the raw materials that constituted the  bulk of the city’s trade. By the late 1850s a few firms also began to  manufacture a significant amount of the heavy equipment used in  hydraulic mining.  In the 1860s…the Civil War and the completion of the  transcontinental railroad fostered the development of a new kind of  industry within San Francisco––the manufacturing of light consumer items  for regional markets. The dislocation of Eastern trade during the Civil  War not only aided the development of agricultural lands in the Far  West but also encouraged San Francisco’s manufacturing sector by  diverting capital investment from the cities of the East to the Far west  and by forcing the latter region to look to San Francisco to supply its  consumer needs.”

“The high shipping rates of the Central  Pacific Railroad acted as a protective tariff for the city, and the  railroad gave San Francisco easier access to raw materials and to  regional markets for its manufactured goods. The construction of the  railroad also attracted great numbers of Chinese and European immigrants  who flocked to San Francisco once their job with the railroad ended.  This new abundance of labor, in turn, drove down wages in the city and  encouraged the creation of the first large-scale manufacturing  establishments in the city. As a result, by 1880 San Francisco had a  mature, broadly based manufacturing sector that completely dominated the  Far West. San Francisco ranked ninth among cities in the nation in  value of products…most important industries in 1880 were meat packing  and processing, sugar refining, boot and shoe making, heavy metal and  machine making, men’s clothing, and tobacco and cigar making. San  Francisco’s continued vitality as a commercial center and its growing  manufacturing capabilities also insured that the city acted as the  financial capital of the region. The headquarters of almost all of the  California banking institutions were located in San Francisco, and banks  in other cities were often dependent on San Francisco capital.”

“Despite this relatively favorable  working climate, San Francisco was not in any way protected from the  economic cycles that affected the rest of the nation, nor were the  laboring classes immune form exploitation by their employers. In fact,  the high wages of the 1850s and 1860s and the popular myth that fortunes  were easily made in the Far West promoted unrealistic expectations that  were dealt a particularly harsh blow when hard times hit the city in  the 1870s. With the completion of the railroad in 1869, the chronic  labor shortage that had kept wages high vanished, and for the first time  there was severe unemployment throughout the state. The national  depression sparked by the Panic of 1873 reinforced the local downturn in  business, and in 1875 the collapse of the Bank of California and the  decline in the output of the Comstock Lode (in which much of the city’s  capital had been invested) added to the city’s difficulties.”

“Even though a visitor to the city in  1880′…was much struck by the depressed air of the tradesmen,’ and a  Norwegian pastor implored his countrymen living in the Midwest not to  come to San Francisco expecting to find jobs easily, by 1880 San  Francisco’s economy shared in the recovery that was sweeping the nation.  The development of manufacturing in the city, which had in part been  fostered by the very economic difficulties of the 1870s (because it  lowered wages), meant that the city entered the new decade with an  economy that was more diverse and stronger than ever.”

[It was the Panic of 1873 and the  subsequent national depression that had played a key role in Annie  Fuller’s late husband’s financial ruin back east and it is the  improvement in San Francisco’s economy that Annie takes advantage of as  the clairvoyant, Madam Sibyl, when she offers business advice to local  businessmen like Mr. Matthew Voss in Maids of Misfortune.]


This is a reprint from M. Louisa Locke‘s site.


Kindle Nation Daily Zombie Alert! If You Like a Good Zombie Horror Book, You Don’t Want to Miss Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo – Over 200 Rave Reviews & Just 99 Cents – Download The Book Zombie Readers Can’t Get Enough!

Zombie Fallout

by Mark Tufo

4.4 stars – 246 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Or check out the Audible.com version of Zombie Fallout
in its Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged!

Here’s the set-up:

Late Fall – 2010

Reuters – Estimates say that nearly three thousand people nationwide, and fifteen thousand people worldwide have died of the H1N1 virus or Swine flu and nearly eighty thousand cases have been confirmed in hospitals and clinics across the United States and the world, the World Heath Organization reported. The influenza pandemic of 2010, while not nearly as prolific as the one that raged in 1918 still has citizens around the world in a near state of panic.

New York Post (Headlines October 31st) – Beware! Children Carry Germs! – Halloween Canceled!

New York Times – (Headlines November 3rd) – Swine flu claims latest victim – Vice President surrounded by family and friends at the end.

Boston Globe – (Headlines November 28th) – Swine Flu Vaccinations Coming!

Boston Herald – (Headlines December 6th) – Shots in Short Supply – Lines Long!

National Enquirer – (Headlines December 7th) – The Dead Walk!

There would be no more headlines.

It started in a lab at the CDC (Center for Disease Control), virologists were so relieved to finally have an effective vaccination against the virulent swine flu. Pressure to come up with something had come from the highest office in the land. In an attempt at speed the virologists had made two mistakes, first they used a live virus and second they didn’t properly test for side effects. Within days hundreds of thousands of vaccinations shipped across the US and the world. People lined up for the shots, like they were waiting in line for concert tickets. Fights broke out in drugstores as fearful throngs tried their best to get one of the limited shots. Within days the CDC knew something was wrong. Between 4 and 7 hours of receiving the shot roughly 95% succumbed to the active H1N1 virus in the vaccination. More unfortunate than the death of the infected was the added side effect of reanimation, it would be a decade before scientists were able to ascertain how that happened. The panic that followed couldn’t be measured. Loved ones did what loved ones always do, they tried to comfort, their kids or their spouses or their siblings, but what came back was not human not even remotely. Those people that survived their first encounter with these monstrosities usually did not come through unscathed, if bitten they had fewer than 6 hours of humanity left, the clock was ticking. During the first few hysteria ridden days of The Coming as it has become known, many thought the virus was airborne, luckily that was not the case or nobody would have survived. It was a dark time in human history. One from which we may never be able to pull ourselves out of the ashes from.


“Working as both straight up survival fiction and comedy, Mark Tufo’s FALLOUT is a gory, laugh out loud tale of a community of heroes, cowards and misfits struggling against zombies. Tufo’s unlikely hero is one of the funniest and most endearing characters I’ve seen in zombie fiction.” – Craig DiLouie, author of TOOTH AND NAIL and THE INFECTION

“Every time I talk to my friends who are fans of “The Walking Dead”, I BEG them to read the ZF series so I have someone to talk about these books with! I have read sooo many other authors in the genre, and Mark Tufo is my hands-down favorite for compelling story, engaging characters and zombie action! His writing style allows the reader to feel drawn into the scene, and his cynical sense of humor lends just the right amount of levity. I HIGHLY recommend Zombie Fallout, as well as all of the sequels” – Amazon Reviewer, 5 Stars

About The Author

Mark Tufo was born in Boston Massachusetts. He attended UMASS Amherst where he obtained a BA and later joined the US Marine Corp. He was stationed in Parris Island SC, Twenty Nine Palms CA and Kaneohe Bay Hawaii. After his tour he went into the Human Resources field with a worldwide financial institution and has gone back to college at CTU to complete his masters.

He has written the Indian Hill trilogy with the first Indian Hill – Encounters being published for the Amazon Kindle in July 2009. He has since written the Zombie Fallout series and is working on a new zombie book.

He lives in Maine with his wife, three kids and two English bulldogs. Visit him at marktufo.com or http://zombiefallout.blogspot.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Tufo/133954330009843 for news on his next two installments of the Indian Hill trilogy and upcoming installments of the Zombie Fallout series.

(This is a sponsored post.)

For the greatest readers in the world, KND has seven Free Titles! Share and download these Freebies: Kate Mathis’ Living Lies, David Bishop’s The Woman, Nadia Scrieva’s Paramount, Billie Hinton’s The Meaning of Isolated Objects, Julie S. Ross’ How To Survive As A Woman, Vicki Priebe’s Cheap Gold and Silver: How to Find Amazing Deals on Gold and Silver and Morgan Nyberg’s El Dorado Shuffle

With hundreds of new books turning up free each day now in the Kindle Store, it can be tough to hone in on books that you will actually want to read. And almost of the new free books will be free for just a day or two at a time, so we are working hard to make sure that you do not miss the ones you want!

Here are a few books that have just gone free by authors who have already proven to be  favorites with Kindle Nation readers. Please grab them now if they looks interesting to you, because they probably won’t stay free for long!

Important Note: This post is dated Tuesday, July 31, 2012, and the titles mentioned here may remain free only until midnight PST tonight.

Please note: References to prices on this website refer to prices on the main Amazon.com website for US customers. Prices will vary for readers located outside the US, and even for US customers, prices may change at any time. Always check the price on Amazon before making a purchase.

*  *  *

4.1 stars – 34 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:


Living Lies by Kate Mathis – Book 1 of the Agent Melanie Ward Novels
Agent Melanie Ward is a female spy, who discovers it’s easier living a life of Espionage and danger then it is living at home with her funny quirky mother.
A contemporary fiction with Action & Adventure, Romance, Mystery and Humor.
Meet secret agent Melanie Ward, who quits the spy game, after 10 years, when a justly earned promotion is snatched away by her nemesis, the arrogant and smug, Son-of-a-Senator, Agent Finn Parker.
Melanie moves back home with her parents in La Jolla, where her mom, with the help of Melanie’s collage roommates, sets her up on a marathon of comical blind dates (is there another kind?).  Romance finally finds Melanie when she meets Adam, the tall dark and mysterious chef. She falls in love, but life once again becomes unstable when Melanie decides to return to the Agency.
WARNING: This tenacious spy is a serious threat to ruthless people, who will stop at nothing to have her eliminated. Which leads this tale of intrigue and love to a climatic ending that will leave you wanting more…

*  *  *

The Woman

by David Bishop

4.2 stars – 54 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
* AMAZON BEST-SELLING MYSTERY SERIES LIST (June/27/2012 and running)There are approximately one-hundred-and-sixty million women living in America. This is a story of just one woman. As the story unfolds Linda gradually learns that some people do deserve to die, but that she is not one of those people.
Linda Darby is a seven-year divorcee, living quietly in a small let-the-world-go-by beach town on the coast of Oregon, who day trades for a living. Her only close friend is a widowed elderly woman who manages a small consulting company, which, as is later discovered, never has visitors, sends and receives its business correspondence only by courier, and is not listed in any phone directory. No one in town knows what kind of consulting the company does, but the rumor is that whatever they do is done for the government.
Linda doesn’t date local men. When her celibacy grows intolerable, she visits nearby towns to frequent the watering holes of successful men. Her motto: No relationships. No second dates. No use of her real name during one-night stands.
Then one evening, Linda goes for a walk and nothing for her is ever the same. She is dragged into an alley by two men, but saved by a third, a stranger who disappears as suddenly as he appeared. The next day she finds out the two men in the alley had been killed, the town’s first murders ever. The following day she learns that hours before she had been dragged into the alley, her close friend was tortured and killed. The next night, she awakens several hours after going to bed to find a man sitting in her bedroom, watching her.
In the days that follow, events stretching all the way to the nation’s capital change who Linda is, what she thinks, and how she will live the rest of her life.

*  *  *

5.0 stars – 4 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

A goddess hell-bent on revenge…

Pax Burnson is the descendant of devas. She has vowed to live her life without practicing her powers, but recent events have overturned her entire existence. Thorn Kalgren has been the love of her life since she was fourteen – he helped her to heal after the loss of her parents. As a close family friend, he is one of a select few who understand and share her unique heritage. His recent betrayal has released a violence within her that she cannot restrain.

While her first instinct is to escape and forget, her aimless road trip is interrupted by a childhood friend in need. An idea strikes Pax as she sees her own pain reflected in Thorn’s sister, Amara Kalgren. She is suddenly filled with a new, all-consuming purpose: vengeance. She believes there is nothing else left.

Using ancient magick and enlisting Amara’s help, Pax orchestrates a complex, drawn-out plan to deceive and emotionally destroy her former lover. The friendship and loyalty between the two girls becomes fortified and unshakable as they venture down a dark and twisted path together, encountering formidable roadblocks and demons.

It soon becomes clear to Pax that everything she has been led to believe about her powers and her past was shaped by blatant lies. When she discovers that Thorn’s infidelity is closely linked with her mother’s death, she is forced to make a life-altering decision…

*  *  *

4.0 stars – 5 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
Lynnie is labeled a “seer” as a little girl but never explores or exploits her gift – she merely uses it to make a home and a haven for her complicated husband, Scott, who spends his time doing solitary and dangerous CIA work in the dusty Afghani mountains. Scott becomes expert in using a technique known as remote viewing – a skill that both helps and hurts him. What happens when a mother’s love ripples on beyond her death? And when her daughter, an archeologist with her own seer skills packs up and heads for Texas and a new life?  Things unravel as Wendell discovers she is being followed and finds notes from a mysterious man who seems to know her.  Scott comes home to look for his lost daughter who is being pursued because of abilities she doesn’t even know she has. As family secrets emerge, father and daughter end up together, on the run, piecing together the painful but redemptive puzzle of grief, love, and loss.

*  *  *

How To Survive As A Woman

by Julie S. Ross

Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.
Here’s the set-up:
“Survive As A Woman” is a collection of experiences of women from all over the world. All these experiences and research of thirty years have been put together in this book to benefit us and enrich us all. It is a Survival guide for women of this generation.
You will identify the meaning of your existence. Learn how to know yourself better. Know who you are as a woman and identify your task on this earth.
Know about men and his purpose. Who are they and what is the meaning of their existence.
You will get familiar with their “tools” and your “values” to successfully build your home in perfect harmony and peace.
We follow with extraordinary subjects like: How to Think Like a Man, How to Survive a Breakup, How to Keep The Romance Going and Dating Advise.
A fantastic and life changing chapter “Growing Old with Grace and Power” based on 100 plus interviews with elderly people all over the world.
The grand finale…“How to Build a Lifetime of Happiness” Yes, with a little help it can be found!
When you read this book, not only you will learn “How to Survive as a Woman”, but you will become a woman of; Success, Value, Respect, and Wisdom.
Women will praise you and men will adore you! JR.

*  *  *

5.0 stars – 2 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

A Bargain Hunter’s Guide to saving and making money with gold and silver objects, like jewelry.

Which of these do you want?
– to have extra money to pay your bills?
– to find spectacular gifts for your loved ones at ridiculously low prices?
– to have lots of beautiful head turning jewelry to wear?
– to invest in precious metals for less than the current spot price?
– to have extra money to take that vacation you’ve been dreaming of?
– to protect yourself or your family’s finances in the event of a serious crisis?
– to know more about buying and selling precious metals? So you aren’t ripped off.
– to know how you are missing deals on precious metals in plain sight?
– to make your own decisions and be your own boss?

If you have a want or need associated with any of the above questions, then this book might be your answer. Imagine your excitement, when you notice a beautiful thick gold colored necklace lying on a table at an estate sale. You quickly pick it up. It’s heavy and looks like gold. However, the only mark on it doesn’t indicate gold, so you put it down. Luckily you read this book and remember the lesson on marks, and quickly pick it up again. Jackpot! You bought an 18 K gold necklace for $2; it’s worth $246 for the gold content value. That’s a $244 profit/savings in less than 5 minutes. Would this put a big smile on your face? This is one of my true stories; check out picture 53 to see it.

Make money, save money and invest in precious metals:
Is it possible to make money finding gold and silver in your spare time? The answer is yes. If I sold all the items I purchased, I’d average $24-$73 per hour. I’ve been doing this and now it’s your turn. I want you to capitalize on the opportunities all around you; trust me they’re out there.

In addition to making money, I wanted to invest in precious metals without affecting my family’s budget. I couldn’t imagine taking $1,600 from my monthly income to buy one gold coin, but I could take $2 to buy gold jewelry. Does this sound familiar; do you have the same thoughts? Take this educational journey with me and reap your rewards.

Capitalizing on these amazing deals not only allows me to make money and invest in precious metals, but I’m able to save money buying gifts for my family, friends and myself. If I spend $2 on a gold necklace and pendant set that retails for $100, I saved myself $98. Now that’s the smart way to keep up with the Joneses. Or if I give it away as a gift, no one will know I only spent $2; they’ll think I spent $100. Read this book and you could save substantial amounts of money too.

*  *  *

El Dorado Shuffle

by Morgan Nyberg

Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

Don’t mess with Mac McKnight, even if you are the president of a South American republic. Mac has secretly recorded President Charlie Dávilos frolicking at a brothel. He has managed to get the video recording onto national television. Dávilos will be the second president he has brought down.

Mac gets angry. Really angry. Foolishly angry. His own son is a drug addict, so he does not like it when important people use their position as a way into the cocaine trade.

What makes Mac tick? Guilt. Anger. Reckless courage. Love. Alcohol. He will assail the evil-doers even if it means tearing down his own world.

“El Dorado Shuffle” is a full-length novel propelled by hair-raising conflict, outrageous behavior and violence. Nevertheless, the entire narrative is coloured by a rich and self-mocking humor, making it a unique and unforgettable reading experience. Fans of Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace and Michael Chabon will delight in Morgan Nyberg’s venture into the colour, spice, danger and black laughter of Latin America.

(This is a sponsored post.)

Our Romance of the Week is literally HOT off the presses & KND has a Free Excerpt of New eBook – Katie Porter’s Double DownReaders who are looking for handsome pilots and long, fun-filled nights will love this descriptive e-book. It is fun and sassy hotness–a quick read sure to get your jets off … Now Available on Kindle!

Last week we announced that Katie Porter’s Double Down is our Romance of the Week and the sponsor of thousands of great bargains in the Romance category: over 200 free titles, over 600 quality 99-centers, and thousands more that you can read for free through the Kindle Lending Library if you have Amazon Prime!

Now we’re back to offer our weekly free Romance excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have pre-ordered or downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!

Double Down

by Katie Porter

Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

Desire as reckless as a fighter jet in freefall…and just as dangerous.

Vegas Top Guns, Book 1

As part of the 64th Aggressor Squadron, Major Ryan “Fang” Haverty flies like the enemy to teach Allied pilots how not to die. The glittering excess of the Strip can’t compare to the glowing jet engines of his F-16. But a sexy, redheaded waitress in seamed stockings? Now she gets his blood pumping.

Cassandra Whitman’s good-girl ways haven’t earned any slack from her manager ex-boyfriend, or prevented a bad case of frazzle from holding down two and a half jobs. She sure wouldn’t mind letting the handsome Southern charmer shake up her routine.

Their wild weekend lives up to Sin City’s reputation. Especially when they discover a matched passion for roleplaying. For Cass, it’s an exciting departure from her normal, shy persona. But for Ryan, it triggers memories of a time when his fetish drove away the woman he loved–leaving him reluctant to risk a repeat performance.

Except Cass refuses to settle for ordinary ever again. She’s about to show the man with hair-trigger hands that she’s got a few surprise moves of her own.

Warning: This book contains dirty-hot roleplaying, featuring an all-alpha fighter pilot and an ambitious waitress with a fabulous imagination. Also: dressing-room sex, a plaid schoolgirl skirt, and a sprinkling of spankings.

And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:

Chapter One

Seamed stockings. The waitress was wearing seamed stockings.

Major Ryan Haverty groped blindly for his glass since he couldn’t seem to drag his gaze away from those long, slender legs and the stockings clinging to every sleek inch. The cool wash of beer didn’t do much to clear his head. When the woman’s legs slipped out of view behind another table, he still pictured that sheer black and the darker line tracing up the back of each calf. Christ, maybe they were even silk.

She’d been cute as hell even before he realized the bonus she wore. Pixie-like features were topped with huge blue eyes and strawberry-blonde hair twisted along her nape. Something about the quirk of her mouth said she wasn’t as innocent as some might think.

“Yo, Fang.” Captain Jonathan Carlisle waved a hand in front of Ryan’s eyes. “You with us?”

Ryan blinked at the use of his call sign. He’d unconsciously shifted forward in his seat, the better to watch the waitress walk away. He stretched an arm across the leather bench, trying to focus on his friends.

Jon smirked at him before flicking a glance in the direction the woman had gone. “Really, man? A waitress? Hasn’t anyone told you they’re practically paid to flirt with the customers? Tips and all.”

Jon’s words came out rounded in some places and clipped in others—the high-class affect of Massachusetts. No surprise since the guy came from money. Buckets of it. He didn’t play up the fact, but he was the reason they were sitting in Blakely’s Steakhouse, a tiny family-owned joint. If not for Jon, neither Ryan nor their third friend, Captain Leah Bayern, would have ever heard of it.

The dining area was barely bigger than Ryan’s small apartment, but it was lux. Light shone from frosted-glass wall sconces, and every table was blanketed by white linen. Were it not for formal Air Force events, he wouldn’t have known what to do with the multiple heavy silver forks at each setting. The atmosphere had a softened white-noise effect, muting conversations from the other diners.

The meal itself had been amazing, as evidenced by the scatter of plates between them, which had been all but licked clean of food. Hell, there’d been a time in his childhood when Ryan wouldn’t have hesitated to swipe up the last bits of rib-eye juices with his bare fingers. He hadn’t eaten a steak that tender and flavorful until his twenty-fourth birthday, home from his first deployment and living large in New York.

“Wait, the waitress? Fang has a thing for her?” Leah twisted around in her seat. “Where’d she go?”

Ryan quirked his brows. “What are you going to do? Pass her a note that says I like her?”

Leah flipped around and flashed a manic smile. Her hair was pulled straight back in a slick ponytail. “So you do like her.”

He couldn’t help but roll his eyes, but just a minute amount. Any more and he might have to give up his balls. “Princess,” he said, using her call sign, “sometimes you sound more like a ninth grader than a fighter pilot.”

She stuck her tongue out at him.

Jon laughed. “Careful, little girl, or someone’ll put that tongue where you aren’t expecting.”

Leah slugged him in the shoulder. Despite being scrappy and wiry, the other pilot didn’t even budge, and Ryan knew from experience that Leah could hit hard when she wanted. “Ryan and I have already been there, done that. Wasn’t worth T-shirts.”

“Never say,” Jon mocked, turning his pretty-boy features into a caricature of surprise. “Our waitress is going to be disappointed?”

“The problem wasn’t the sex,” Leah said. The woman had barely even a promise of tact. “We were too wound tight for each other. Two type-A’s in a relationship is a very bad thing.”

“Anyway, she’s no one’s waitress anyhow.” Ryan stretched his legs to the side as cover for searching her out again. The booth really was too small for him—one of the perils of being a couple inches over six feet tall.

There she was, near the swinging wooden doors to the kitchen. Though clad in the same charcoal-gray skirt as the other waitress, she wore it with entirely more grace over her sleek curves. The plain white blouse did him a huge favor and clung to her small breasts.

Some short, rat-faced man had taken her by the elbow, and neither of them looked too happy. Red flushed across her rounded cheeks. Her pretty pink mouth twisted.

Ryan’s hands fisted below the table. Those lips were meant for much more fun tasks than spitting words at a pinched asshole.

When she walked back toward Ryan’s table, she smoothed her features into the genial friendliness required of servers. The skin around her eyes remained tight.

A hard swallow contorted her graceful throat as she set the leather check-holder on the table. Somehow she still managed to dredge up a smile. “Here you go.”

Ryan grabbed the rectangular folder and flipped it open. His eyes bulged. For God’s sake, the bill was almost a third what he spent on rent, and more than the monthly mortgage his mom had paid for their trailer when he was growing up.

With a fast display of dimples, Jon snagged it from Ryan’s grip. “My choice. My treat. Go back to chatting her up.”

Ryan resisted the urge to tell him to shove it. “Fine, but I’ll get the tip.”

“I hope you were happy with your meal,” the waitress said.

“Everything was wonderful.” The smile he flashed was the same one that had talked his seventh-grade gym teacher, Miss Pavers, into ignoring the fact he hadn’t dressed out for a week. It was difficult to find clean gym clothes when his mom hadn’t gotten off the couch in almost a month. He ignored the kick Leah aimed at his shins beneath the tablecloth. “Especially the service.”

The woman’s eyebrows went up. “Does that line work for you often?”

“See now, there’s no way I can answer that,” he said with a laugh. “If I tell you no, it’ll just confirm what you think. If I tell you the truth, that I’ve never tried it before, you’ll never believe me.”

She gave a mock pout and shook her head. “That certainly is a difficult dilemma. I’m not sure you can recover at this point.”

“Be careful,” Jon said as he took the check and slipped a credit card inside. “At this rate you’re going to make yourself a challenge. There’s nothing Ryan here likes more than a challenge.”

Leah smothered a laugh, making it Ryan’s turn to kick at her.

“Ryan? That’s your name?”

“Ryan Haverty.” He stuck his hand out and nodded to her name tag. “And you’re Cassandra, right?”

She put her hand in his with a curt nod. An electric tingle worked its way up to his shoulder. Her fingers were slender and graceful and so smooth that he could imagine them wrapped around his cock. He practically twitched in his slacks.

Cassandra nibbled at her bottom lip. The blue of her eyes shifted darker. “Any relationship to Joseph Patrick Haverty?”

“Not a clue who that is.”

She pulled her hand back as she chuckled. “It was a joke. Mostly. He was a painter.” She gave an abbreviated wave, as if to brush away her words. She picked up the check. “It’s no big deal.”

“Cass,” said a voice with a distinct whine. The man Cassandra had been talking with near the kitchen doors approached the table. He wore a suit coat that did nothing to conceal his narrow shoulders. His eyes were amazingly beady. Ryan was surprised he could see at all. “Excuse me, gentlemen,” he said to Ryan and patted Jon on the shoulder.

Ryan was surprised he didn’t draw back a stump. Jon, call sign Tin Tin, might be something of a pretty boy—especially with his goddamn dimples and faux-innocent smirk. The guy had a ruthless side that was only more intimidating for its coldly mechanical streak. Ryan was willing to have him on his wing anywhere, anytime.

After a quick glance over Leah that spent entirely too long on her rack, the man tagged on a, “Miss.”

Leah only raised her eyebrows, thank God. She could be a bit reckless at times.

The guy Ryan presumed was the manager returned his attention to Cassandra and tugged her to the back of the room. There was no mistaking their antagonistic body language. The guy hovered over Cassandra while she kept her face averted. Ryan probably shouldn’t have been able to listen in, but he’d always had excellent hearing. And he was very interested in the conversation’s outcome.

“Why are we out of napkins, Cass?”

“I don’t know, Tommy.” She rolled her eyes before facing her menace. “Probably because it’s not my job to order them.”

“You’ve been taking care of it for the last six months.”

Her smile only got bigger, but it took on a brittle edge. “Let’s not do this in the front of the diners.”

“I tried, but you’re the one who leaves the prep area every time I walk in.”

“Fine,” Cassandra said in a saccharine tone. “I stopped ordering the napkins when you dumped me and took up with Cynthia. How about you ask her to take on that duty?”

After gesturing to the dishwater blonde taking an order at the other end of the room, she stalked back to Ryan. Her eyes sparkled with an amusement that invited him to join in. She wiggled the black leather case with Jon’s credit card inside. “I’ll be back in a minute with this.”

The dickweed followed her to the back of the restaurant, unfortunately obscuring Ryan’s view of both her sweet ass and those sexy stockings.

Jon laughed and shook his head. “It’s my card in there, but she tells you that she’ll be back. Maybe you’ve got a shot after all.”

Leah took a healthy swallow of her red wine. “Nah, that’s a hot mess. You don’t wanna get mixed up in all that drama.”

For the privilege of holding those thighs, still wrapped in silk while he fucked her, Ryan would put up with a lot of drama. The last time he’d had an up-close encounter with a girl who liked fancy stockings had been in college with his ex-fiancée, Ashleigh.

Just look at how that had ended.

He shoved the past back where it belonged. “If anyone would know hot messes, Princess, it’d be you.”

“No way. That’s Tin Tin and his stream of women. All the way.”

“They’re not a stream.” Jon ran a hand over his dark hair, which was buzzed to a quarter inch like he were some Army grunt freak. “They’re a select assortment.”

Leah laughed. “That’s not what it looks like from here.”

“Don’t tell me you’re jealous.”

“Right,” she replied with a look of disgust. “Just like I’d be jealous of the girls who make out with my brothers.”

Ryan let their patter fade into the background, knowing exactly how their sibling-style bickering would continue. Instead he watched the kitchen doors. A blur of reddish hair zipped past but didn’t return.

He tapped his fingers across the white tablecloth. It was way too long since he’d been with a woman who liked wearing rare bonuses like the stockings, because he certainly wasn’t about to ask for them. This was an opportunity too good to pass up.

He needed an in. Something that would give him an edge. Make a date with him a challenge. If it was also a way to snub her nose at that cocksucker, so much the better. Cassandra was way out of that guy’s league, and Ryan wasn’t above rubbing it in the other man’s nose.

He sat up straighter when she finally popped out the doors.

She plunked the credit-card holder down in front of Jon. “I’m sure you know the drill,” she said with laughter lurking in her voice. She turned to Ryan. “I hope you guys didn’t hear too much. Things have been strained around here lately.”

Leah knocked back the rest of her wine. “Why do you put up with that crap?”

She shrugged. Slight embarrassment flickered across her features, temporarily turning her lush mouth down. “It’s complicated.” She plastered a grin on. “Besides, the tips are great here. You have my permission to take that as a hint.”

Ryan laughed. “You’ve got more patience than the three of us combined.”

“That wouldn’t surprise me in the least.”

Jon and Leah slid out of the booth and headed toward the door. Knowing when to make an exit was only one of the things that made them such good friends.

Ryan dug his wallet out of his back pocket. “What time do you get off?”

She checked her watch. “About fifteen minutes, thank the sweet baby Jesus. You asking for a reason?” Her hip cocked saucily, that slim gray skirt clinging. Beneath it the black stockings made his palms itch with curiosity.

He pulled two fifty-dollar bills out of his leather wallet. “I tell you what. This is your tip, no matter what.”

Her lips parted on a quiet gasp. “That’s thirty percent.”

“You say the word and I’ll leave it on the table.”


He stood. Even in her slingback heels, she only came to his shoulder. Fuckin’ A, he liked that. He’d never been into the macho thing, but there was something about her that brought out his protective streak.

The fact that she was hot as hell in an apple-pie kind of way didn’t hurt at all.

“Or,” he echoed, dragging out the word. “You come with me and we’ll turn them into chips up on the Strip. Just to see what kind of trouble we can get into.”


Chapter Two

Cassandra Whitman did not fall for cheap lines. Or All-American smiles. Or biceps that strained against black cotton.

Nope. But being sainthood good for longer than she could remember made a girl greedy.

It didn’t help that she was still boiling mad at Tommy—make that General Manager Thomas Blakely. She deserved medals and commendations for not mouthing off even worse in front of Ryan and his friends. Choice remarks about Tommy’s allergy to foreplay and his Rogaine obsession had remained caged inside her seething brain.

She grinned at Ryan. “Your friend says you like a challenge. That true?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Oh, shoot. She went briefly weak in the knees. It wasn’t just the automatic “ma’am”, but how he made it earnest. A real Southern gentleman.

“Good,” she said. “Then here’s one for you.”

“I’m listening.”

He was. Completely. Dark eyes fixed on hers. He’d leaned closer. His intimate posture suggested confidences and sordid secrets. Crossed arms on another man might seem defensive, but Cass could only admire how his black button-down stretched smooth over the caps of his shoulders.

He took care of himself. She wanted him to take care of her.

A night out. It was about time.

“Tommy,” she said. “My manager.”

“And ex?”

“Definitely ex.” She matched his intimate posture, just the angle of her hips. “He never liked public displays of affection.”

“Guys who can’t perform generally don’t. Too many witnesses.” His voice was huskier now, going from good to wet-undies sexy.

Cass licked her bottom lip and smiled when he noticed. “But I don’t want to get fired. Can you meet me in about ten minutes?” She gestured back to the swinging doors that led to the kitchen. “Through there, take a right, and you’ll find the employee locker room.”

Something about this guy Ryan had her thinking words beginning with B. Brazen. Bold. Balls. If anyone had the balls to stride into the kitchen and kiss her in front of Tommy, it might be Ryan. If they both managed to go through with it…

Well, then the night had turned golden.

“How do I know this isn’t a plot to get rid of me? Ten minutes is a long time. Slip out the back door. I’d never see you again.”

He made that sound like a tragedy. Cass definitely approved.

“Consider it a show of faith. Just like I’ll assume you aren’t some weirdo murderer maniac.”

Oh, he had a great smile. She loved guys who smiled. Tall, built, interested guys who smiled were like big-time Vegas jackpots. You heard about them, but you never imagined seeing one in person.

Some sex demon took possession of her hand. That studly arm was too tempting. She ran the tip of her finger down the firm curve of muscle. The breath Ryan quietly sucked in was almost as exciting as his body.

“I’ll be there,” she said. “And I’ll clean up. I hate smelling like I’ve been hauling steak for six hours.”

Before he could reply, before she lost her nerve, Cass turned and walked toward the kitchen. When she reached the door, she couldn’t help but look back over her shoulder. Ryan stood in the same spot. Arms still crossed. Expression still intense. He was staring at her, but not at a guy’s usual T&A choices. Cass glanced down at her calves, half thinking she’d find a splatter or stain. Wouldn’t have been surprising at all. After six hours on the floor, she felt like a filthy dishrag.

She only found her stockings, the seamed ones she wore when she wanted to feel like a woman, not an overworked waitress and gallery lackey.

Ryan met her eyes. His frank sexual interest was one thing. The naughty grin sent a shiver up her spine.

She barged into the kitchen. The doors clanged against the inside wall. She laughed to herself when the staff looked up from their preparation tables and sizzling grills. Pulsing excitement made her giddy, even reckless.

After shutting the locker-room door, she stripped out of her disgusting uniform. The only thing she had to change into was the spare set she kept for emergencies—yet another gray pencil skirt and white shirt. Her plans for the evening had involved staggering home exhausted, with a shower and pajamas optional as she collapsed. Now she had the energy of a nuclear reactor.

Gillian Flores, an MFA candidate who studied sculpture, shut her locker. “You outta here?”

“Yup. You just getting here?” Cass ran hot water in the sink.

“Tommy’s gonna give me shit for being late again.”

“I wouldn’t worry about him tonight.”

Gilly doubled a rubber band around her thick black ponytail. “Oh?”

“Yeah, I got him covered.”

“Now I’m intrigued. You plan on giving him the kicking he deserves?”

After running a washcloth over her skin, Cass toweled off. “Just don’t be out on the floor in about four minutes. I’ve found someone intriguing.”

She wiggled into her spare uniform. The skirt wasn’t the flashiest in the world, but she appreciated how it fit. Like the stockings, it made her feel curvy and feminine. She undid her hair and combed it with water, then braided two pigtails that trailed over her shoulders. Splash of perfume. Powder and clear lip gloss. She didn’t have time for anything else.

Cass had just slipped back into her heels—her tired feet protesting like whoa damn—when she heard the commotion in the kitchen. Perhaps the sound of a certain customer venturing where he didn’t belong? A glance at the wall clock made her smile.

Tall. Built. And punctual.

She’d almost been second-guessing herself. He was right in saying ten minutes was a long time—not for getting ready, but for letting the doubts creep in.

“So show me the money, missy.” Gilly, wearing the world’s most fantastic shit-eating grin, pulled opened the locker-room door with a flourish.

Ryan was right there, standing in the doorway. His hand was poised to knock. Backlit by the much brighter lights of the kitchen, he filled the space. Owned it. “There you are, Cassandra.”

Shivers that were becoming more familiar by the second climbed up Cass’s back. He said her name like the low harmony of a song, making love to each syllable.

She gulped back the last of her nerves and met him in the doorway. He offered his arm like the Southern gentleman she’d imagined. His forearm was solid beneath her fingertips.

Fluorescent lighting generally did no one any favors. Not so with Ryan. Now she could see the exact sun-tea shade of his short, neat hair. His skin was smooth and lightly tanned, with only the slightest hint of scruff. His eyes weren’t as dark as when the dining room’s tasteful low-watt atmosphere had obscured their color. In truth they were a perfect blend of brown and green, a true hazel, full of mischief and blatant, panty-dropping desire.

Cass snuggled deeper, with her palm curled flat around that miraculous biceps.

“You ready?” he asked.

She looked around the kitchen. Tommy was nowhere to be found. A flicker of disappointment seemed ridiculous considering the man she stood next to.

It seemed the fates and the gods and the whole damn universe were on her side that night. Tommy walked through the swinging doors. He stopped dead. Pinched eyes swerved from Ryan to Cass, then back to Ryan again. If a man could bristle, Tommy did.

“Can I help you?”

“No, sir.” Ryan glanced down at Cass, his humor like an aphrodisiac. “I’m good.”

“You can’t be in here.”

Lordy, how had she put up with that for six months? Being sensible wasn’t worth that level of compromise. What did it say about Tommy that his customer was the one who used “sir” while he mislaid that courtesy?

“Don’t worry,” Ryan said. “We were just leaving.”

Tommy smoothed a hand down his suit, that telltale nervous habit of his. “Cass, you said you’d close tonight.”

Shoot. She had.

“That was probably because you thought I was a no-show,” Gilly said. She stood against the notice wall where schedules and time cards were the only decoration. All the finery in Blakely’s was saved for the dining room. “I’m here now. I’ll close.”

Cass mouthed a silent thank you to her friend. Knowing Gilly, she’d want to be repaid in details. Maybe for once Cass would have a few to share.

“I can’t believe you,” Tommy said.

The flush was high on his cheeks. He was handsome. He really was, no matter his squint and his lanky thinness. Yet he could look downright rodentlike when he turned mean. Cass suppressed a shiver of a different kind. Their last argument—the Big One, as she’d dubbed it—had revealed his true colors. Being called desert trash wasn’t something she’d ever forgive, let alone how he’d wet his wiener between Cynthia’s rail-thin thighs.

“You’re just going to go with this guy? This guy you met an hour ago?”

“Now hold up there.” Ryan’s voice sounded gruff and confrontational, but Cass caught the teasing glint in his eyes. “I was a customer an hour ago. We only met about, what, fifteen minutes ago?”

“Maybe twenty,” Cass said. “Not long.”

“Yeah, not long.”

She’d been expecting a grand, passionate grope—the kind that would roast the innards of any still-clingy, still-possessive ex. That didn’t seem to be Ryan’s style. He leaned down, taking his time, inviting the tiny world of Blakely’s kitchen to watch. He nudged one pigtail aside with his nose. His kiss, when it came, was the gentlest touch of skin to skin. Warm lips pressed against the hollow behind her jaw, just below her earlobe.

Much better. She forced herself to hold still, to soak in his deliberate restraint. Let ’em wonder what went on behind closed doors. They’d get no wild mauling from this gentleman.

Only his exhalation gave him away, hot against her cheek. Too fast. Too erratic. Good. She liked the idea that he was raring to go, no matter this slow pantomime.

Ryan straightened to his full height. He nodded once to Tommy, then to Gillian. “Sir, ma’am, have a good evening.”

Cass helped make their in-your-face exit perfect by guiding him back through the kitchen toward the door to the employee parking lot. Her knees were mush. Her feet felt a hundred yards away. Every time she thought her strength would fail—out of sheer, unbelievable excitement—she gripped his rock-solid arm.

The air outside was no relief. Vegas in April may as well be a cool day in hell, and it wasn’t even summer yet. The exit door closed behind them. Compared to the din in the kitchen and the throb in Cass’s head, the city noises were almost peaceful.

Ryan chuckled. “Hot damn, that was fun.”

The tension in her chest burst out in laughter to match. She collapsed against the restaurant’s stucco outer wall. “Oh, yeah. Best time I’ve had in months.”

“We’re not done yet.”

“Good.” And she meant it. She wanted more and more, like a kid at a fair gorging on cotton candy and too many rides.

He stalked closer. Hard body. Hard wall. Cass was caught in between. Only the grin clinging to his fine mouth kept the moment from becoming intimidating.

“Can I kiss you?” he asked.

“You just did.”

“For real this time.”

“That one cost you, didn’t it?”

“You have no idea.” Ryan ran his tongue over his lower lip, almost bashful. “Especially with those braids.”

Again she caught that intensity in his eyes—the same he’d shown when staring after her stockings. Okay, that was hot.

She touched the place where his shirt opened at the throat. The tiniest hint of chest hair brushed beneath her fingertip. “Can I tell you a secret?”


“My stockings?”

He swallowed audibly. “Yeah?”

“They’re old-fashioned,” she whispered. “Lace tops. Garters. The works.”

She shoved gently against his chest. He was built like a goddamn Mack truck, but she had a clear advantage. He staggered back just a bit, his expression slack, then followed as she walked toward her tiny Honda. She clicked her key fob and made for the driver’s side door.

“You assume I’m a magician if you think I can fit in that tin can,” he said.

“Your choice. Give it a try or don’t.” She raked a long look up and down his body. “You’re cute, but I’m not letting you drive.”

Rather than press or make another joke, he returned her deliberate perusal, inch for inch. Cass wiggled in her own skin. She’d let him kiss her, all right. If she admitted the whole truth, she was probably going to let him do a lot more. The night was young, and she hadn’t been to the Strip in ages.

It was time to play.


Chapter Three

Even with a small stack of chips sitting in front of him at the blackjack table, Ryan couldn’t concentrate on a damn thing other than Cassandra’s legs. As if the old-fashioned seamed stockings hadn’t been enough, she’d gone and told him about the garters. With lace tops. He’d like to drag them down using only his teeth.

Ever since, he’d been sporting a bit of a chubby, even when he’d needed to fold himself into her ridiculously compact car.

More proof Ashleigh had been right all those years ago. They’d dated through his entire senior year of college, long enough for him to propose when he’d started making plans to join the Air Force after graduation. Long enough that he’d risked confiding his secret wants and needs.

She’d been disgusted with his confession. He still recalled the look of pinched condescension on a face that had once shone with respect, even love. Their engagement ended the same night. He hadn’t made that mistake again, instead swearing off giving in to those urges.

It wasn’t like he’d asked Cassandra to wear the stockings or do her hair in pigtails. That was all her own initiative.

Tossing a chip into play, he couldn’t take his gaze off her. She deliberated carefully, worrying at her pink bottom lip, flashing a glimpse of white, even teeth.

Then she crossed her legs. Christ, he even liked her knees.

The air went thin in his lungs, as if he’d stripped his oxygen mask at thirty thousand feet. He coughed. “So,” he said, without any idea of what he would follow up with. Anything that would get his thoughts back in line.

Of course, thinking about the way she’d pulled her strawberry-blonde hair into two pigtails wasn’t much better. He could wrap them around his fists while she did delicious things with that lush mouth.

She glanced at him out the corners of her eyes. A knowing smile curved her lips. “So,” she echoed.

“Haverty. What did you say? John Patrick?”

She nodded, then tapped her cards so the dealer would hit her with another. “He’s obscure, but I like his work. He’s most known for a painting of a piper. It was one of the most famous lithographs in the eighteenth century. Morose, perhaps, but the textures and the colors are memorable.”

“You know a lot about art.”

A bright pink flush spread over her cheeks. “Sorry, I shouldn’t go on like that.”

He couldn’t help but reach for the pigtail nearest him. A lock of hair like raw silk slipped between his thumb and forefinger. “I don’t mind.”

“That makes you a rare man indeed. No one’s been able to listen to me babble about paintings.”

“There aren’t many men like me, but that’s probably a good thing.”

He tapped his cards. Cassandra lifted her eyebrows as the middle-aged dealer flicked him another. Ryan made himself look down and saw why. He’d hit when he’d already been on eighteen.

An older woman, the dealer wore a red vest over the white long-sleeved shirt of the Bellagio uniform. She scooped away his chips. Her dark eyes twinkled, but all she said was, “House wins.”

A laugh burst from him. “Yeah, I should think so.”

Cassandra leaned an elbow on the padded, green table edge. “You’re not much of a gambler, are you?”

Her blouse wasn’t low cut, but her angle plumped the soft inside of her breast, bringing it barely into view. “You’re not great for my gambling,” he said.

“Ah. Your head’s not in the game.”

His gaze dropped back to her legs. He could almost swear her slow uncrossing and re-crossing was deliberate. “Can you blame me?”

Something hot and sexy flashed in her already bright eyes. She gathered up her chips, then his, and shoved them in his pocket. Her slender fingers brushed his hipbone through the thin fabric lining, sending a full-body shiver out from the base of his spine.

The mischievous look she angled at him didn’t help calm him much. Her lashes were thick but pale, almost glimmering with blonde at the tips. Absurd to think, but he’d like to feel them against his skin.

Cassandra hopped off her stool and looped her fingers beneath his black leather belt. “Come on. I’ve got an idea.”

Ryan followed her blindly as she wove through the casino floor. Banks of brightly lit slot machines chinged and dinged with electric recreations of the waterfalls of the coins they’d once spit out. Voices rose and fell, a loud cheer going up from the far side of the room. Someone must have hit a jackpot.

A virtual conga-line worth of drunk people streamed in the opposite direction. A few of them wore three-foot-tall paper hats with absurd sayings. Ryan remembered with crystal clarity why he didn’t spend too much time on the Strip, despite living a stone’s throw away. The idiot quotient was way too high.

Two brunettes wearing short-as-hell miniskirts and carrying yard-long margaritas stumbled at them, giving Ryan an excuse to fold his arm around Cassandra and pull her near. She fit there perfectly. She was neither too lush nor too skinny. Her curves pressed against his hip, and she wrapped a hand around his biceps, just as she had in the steakhouse.

Combined with how she looked up at him, her eyes shining like he was some bloody hero for pulling her away from drunks, he felt like the king of the hill.

“Over here,” she said, abruptly veering them to the right.

In only a few steps, they stood in a relatively quiet, dim corridor. Signs pointed to the elevator at the back. To their left was a bank of payphones. Vegas was probably the only place in the world where the relics could still be easily found. All for the tourists. The clang and noise of the casino floor sounded miles away.

“What are we doing back here, Miss—?” He broke off, surprised and chagrined. “I don’t even know your last name.”

Considering what he’d been imagining doing with her, he felt pretty shitty about that. She pulled away to lean against the wall—unsurprising when he’d revealed himself quite the jackass.

She only smiled. “We can’t have that, not with what I’m about to do for you, Mr. Haverty.”

The low, sultry way she used his last name sent him into overdrive. With the naughty librarian skirt, the pigtails and musical voice, he was surprised that he hadn’t all-out mauled her yet. He braced a hand against the wall beside her head. Jackass wasn’t even close. He was way worse.

“Give me your name.” He couldn’t keep the growl out of his words, even though he hoped like hell he didn’t scare her away. “I should know more about you, considering that I’m going to kiss the hell out of you.”

“My name is Cassandra Whitman.” Her eyelids drooped with desire. “I have a degree in art history, I’m twenty-six, and I’ve lived in Nevada all my life.”

“And you like old-fashioned garters.”

Her throat worked over a swallow. “I do.”

The rapid-fire flutter of her pulse at the base of her throat drew him. He bent his head, giving her plenty of time to get away, but he needed another taste of her skin. That moment in the restaurant kitchen had been for the benefit of her ex, but Ryan craved another go. Her skin had been soft, the tickle of her hair across his nose even softer.

She was everything he’d remembered. Just spicy enough. His fingers clenched against the cool wall. He brushed his lips over her neck, then forced himself to pull back. “Apparently, you like dragging men into secluded corridors too.”

“Only certain men and only for certain purposes.”

He chuckled, but it was strained by his choppy breath. “Should I be afraid?”

She pushed him back to arm’s distance with a few fingertips against his chest. “I don’t think so. This is for your benefit, after all.”

“Is that right?”

“Certainly. I’m altruistic. Practically a saint. You can’t keep your head on the cards because you keep thinking of my stockings. So…” She drew the word out. Blood surged down Ryan’s body before he even knew what she was up to.

Her hands slid down her torso. Down farther, down, from her hips to the hem of her skirt. Slim fingers curled around the dark gray material and tugged. So fucking languid.

First came inches of sheer black, made even hotter because he knew they were backed with the seams. Then came a wide band of black lace, topped by tiny silk bows with even tinier pink rosettes in the center. The skinny straps that disappeared under her skirt were pink as well.

That was as far as she went, but it was more than enough. His chest practically shook with the force of his violent breathing. His only saving grace was that she breathed just as quickly, which pressed her breasts against the plain white of her blouse.

Ryan caged her head with his hands. Either that or he’d palm the creamy length of thigh peeking out between the stockings and her skirt. If he gave in to that impulse, he’d be inside her as soon as he could kiss her into agreeing. They’d be booted out of the casino for indecent behavior—which would catch him hell from his CO.

He swiped his tongue across his bottom lip, but it didn’t do much good. His mouth had gone as dry as the desert outside. “I’m going to kiss you now. If that’s not what you want, you better duck and run. Right now.”

She tilted her head back against the wall. “This is me, not running.”


He forced himself to lower his head by degrees, in case she panicked. He wasn’t sure how he’d get himself under control if that happened. Thank Christ she didn’t. She even surged up on her toes, meeting him halfway.

Her mouth was ten times sweeter than her skin. She tasted like crème brûlée—candied, rich and a hint of burnt sugar. Her lips readily opened under his. He dipped his tongue inside, first to taste the plump vulnerability of her bottom lip, then to stroke over hers.

She gave a quiet moan in the back of her throat, and he hungrily drew it into his mouth. Her breath rushed hot over his cheek. Feminine hands curled into the muscles over his ribs, under his arms. He wanted to touch her but couldn’t risk removing his palms from the cool wall. If he touched her, even to cup her face, he might lose his tenuous patience.

Shit, he could be in real trouble with this woman. She had a sense of adventure that seemed woven through with naughty good humor, threatening to turn him inside out.

He tried to pull back, but even that was harder than he’d expected. He swooped back in for another kiss that was no less of a turn-on for its speed.

“Do you…?” He hesitated and tried to swallow the hot lust that hamstrung his body. He hadn’t moved this fast since he’d been an idiotic teenager living in the trailer park. He’d thought joining the Air Force and going through officer training and flight school would beat some sense into his head.

Apparently not.

“Do you want to get out of here?” he asked.

Pale lashes fluttered, clearing the haze from her pretty blue eyes. Her fingers trailed down his ribs then danced over his belt. Nibbling on her bottom lip, which was still wet and slick from their kiss, she stroked over his cock. He hissed in a breath, hoping that was more manly than the moan he’d needed to choke down. Her touch was a fascinating mix of bold and tentative, which did nothing to calm him.

“More than anything. But…” She shifted her hand to the pocket that held their stash of chips. “We’ve got some gambling to do.”



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Kindle Free Book Alert for Tuesday, July 31: 435 brand new Freebies in the last 24 hours added to Our 4,300+ Free Titles sorted by Category, Date Added, Bestselling or Review Rating! plus … Daniel B. Silver’s COP: A Novel (Today’s Sponsor – $5.95)

Powered by our magical Kindle free book tool, here are this morning’s latest additions to our 4,300+ Kindle Free Book listings. Occasionally a title will continue to appear on this list for a short time after it is no longer free on Kindle. ALWAYS check the price on Amazon before making a purchase, please! If a book is free, you should see the following: Kindle Price: $0.00
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COP: A Novel
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Author and law enforcement officer Daniel Silver tells the story of a tattooed punk rocker turned rookie San Francisco policeman, Dougie Cohen. In his first year on the job, the stresses, horrors and frustrations, Dougie encounters take their toll on his patience, health, sanity and love life. Dougie struggles with night terrors, addiction, disease and the loss of his former self to his new police persona. Dougie is on a collision course with the reality of urban law enforcement. He'll either break, or accept the fundamentals of what it means to be a real cop.
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Realistic, insightful, touching, humorous and extremely entertaining. Exposes segments of our society that few know exist. Brings to light what city police deal with on a daily basis in the streets; no grand criminal conspiracies, just real life. Exceptionally talented new author with an intriguing writing style. A must read!
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About the Author
Daniel B. Silver has played many roles in his thirty-something-year-old life: child actor, punk rocker, musician, high school dropout, miscreant skateboarder, Food Not Bombs activist, comic book nerd, retail clerk, husband, homeowner, 911 paramedic, comedy website writer, poet, apartment renter, wannabe novelist, police officer and first man to set foot on Mars. Dan is lying about one of those things. He lives and works in San Francisco. ‘Cop’ is his first novel. Follow him @DangerSilver. Laugh with him or at him at www.dangersilver.com. Daniel B. Silver has played many roles in his thirty-something-year-old life: child actor, punk rocker, musician, high school dropout, miscreant skateboarder, Food Not Bombs activist, comic book nerd, retail clerk, husband, homeowner, 911 paramedic, comedy website writer, poet, apartment renter, wannabe novelist, police officer and first man to set foot on Mars. Dan is lying about one of those things. He lives and works in San Francisco. ‘Cop’ is his first novel. Follow him @DangerSilver. Laugh with him or at him at www.dangersilver.com.
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52 Delicious Christmas Fruitcake Recipes in This CookbookEveryone is familiar with Fruitcake. It is the candied sponge cake given at Christmas time as gifts or served after a delicious holiday meal. Sometimes fruitcake is in the shape of a holiday wreath and sometimes it is shaped like a loaf. But...
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Psychotherapy is a hard thing to understand if you never tried it before. I answer various questions in this book: - Is it only about sex? - Do only crazy people need to see a psychotherapist? - Does it actually work? And what are the many other benefits that Woody Allen keeps talking about in his...
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FINALIST in the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition"Addiction, recovery, rinse, & repeat is a winning formula that Clarke Wainikka executed masterfully in this dynamic psychological thriller!"It’s tough to balance an addiction to Xanax when you’re a psychologist at a rehabilitation...
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I summon the lightning. I claim my power. The warlocks of Icarus Academy claim me.I start my night as a cat burglar in Singapore and I end up queen of the witching world. Too bad this magical fairytale's a gig I never wanted and won't accept. My witchcraft is wild and lethal, so I've renounced my...
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Betrayed by the love of her life, Victoria, Queen, First Vampire, has finally decided to take on concubines of her own. When Auction Day comes, the one day a year when humans are harvested for her people, she sends her son to find men to satisfy her. Little did she know how the fates would...
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Breanna White is a tomboy who’d rather be racing her horse than waiting for a man to call on her. She’s perfectly content with who she is. Until Adam, a city-slicker who reminds her of a past she’d rather forget, shows up in Wyoming unexpectedly. Adam belongs to a society family. He has...
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My name is Tom Wilson and I’m an alcoholic…and probably have a borderline personality disorder...and definitely an aversion to DIY. I also used to be a social worker, back when I used to give a damn.Then suddenly I did again, conscience re-awakened, and I had her to thank for it. A girl I’d...
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***** "This is a story that touches on so many levels that appeals to different genres." - Amazon/Goodreads reviewer------------------------------What if, instead of Prince Charming, Cinderella meets the Beast? A beautiful widow, a ruthless billionaire, an unsolved murder, and the Italian Mafia...
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Aaron—the prince of Lycan breeds from the “Destined for the Lycan King” trilogy— never wanted to settle down or commit to traditions. With a fiery appetite for life after an unexpected heartbreak, he throws himself into the family business and the completion of his schooling, vowing for it...
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Kindle Free Book Alert for Tuesday, July 31: 435 brand new Freebies in the last 24 hours added to Our 4,300+ Free Titles sorted by Category, Date Added, Bestselling or Review Rating! plus … Daniel B. Silver’s COP: A Novel (Today’s Sponsor – $5.95)

A Kindle Nation fave and the author of the fabulously successful bestseller The Last Letter – Kathleen Shoop’s Newest Novel After the Fog is Our eBook of the Day at just $2.99, with 4.2 Stars on 33 Reviews, and Here’s a Free Sample

Here’s the set-up for Kathleen Shoop’s After the Fog, just $2.99 on Kindle:

It’s 1948 in the steel town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous “killing smog.” Public health nurse, Rose Pavlesic, has risen above her orphaned upbringing and created a life that reflects everything she missed as a child. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from her doting husband, loving children, and large extended family.

When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed.

Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog.

As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harboring lies.

When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family—and the whole town—splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin?

***Independent Publisher Awards:
2012 Silver Medal, Best Regional Fiction–Mid-Atlantic***

***National Indie Excellence Awards:
2012 WINNER– Literary Fiction***

From the reviewers:

“I highly recommend adding this book to your summer reading list! ”
Kimberly J. Cecere | 10 reviewers made a similar statement

“With out to much spoiler I found it romantic and inspiring. ”
Readingcureall | 2 reviewers made a similar statement

“Slowly, out of the fog of her mind, Rose begins to realize what is important and that is the love of family. ”
Darlene | 6 reviewers made a similar statement

Kathleen Shoop’s debut novel, The Last Letter, was such a an amazing story that I had very high expectations for her second novel, After the Fog — I was not disappointed  –  “lkm”

I found this book very enjoyable . Having grown up in and around industrial towns I could relate to the people and their conflicts over the balance of hazards and well being surrounding the industry . With out to much spoiler I found it romantic and inspiring. I give it another 5 stars. – “Readingcureall”

I stayed up late several nights because I could not wait to see what would happen next. I truly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

I came across the tragedy that occurred in Donora. This novel brought to life how devastating that incident was; it made history come to life. This is one of those books where the setting almost takes on character status. The fog and gritty air seem to pervade everything–even the character’s psyches. An enjoyable read that will leave you heartened when the air clears and Rose sees herself as she truly is.  – Janice Palko

A great mix of historical drama and fiction will keep you turning the pages of this novel. While you bask in the sun this summer, I would highly recommend adding this to your beach bag as a compelling and interesting combination of facts and fiction.  –  BookNook

It is the story of a mill town suffocating in smog, but more than that it is the story of one family and the turmoil in their lives which just happens to coincide with the arrival of the deadly fog. Actually, it is the story of one woman, nurse Rose Pavlesic and her inner turmoil while dealing with her tragic past, dysfunctional family, and the even more dysfunctional families she deals with as a community nurse.  –  C. Hooper

Visit Amazon’s Kathleen Shoop Page

Thank you for reading about me here and for purchasing my novel! I’m married with two children. I’ve been seriously writing for almost a decade although I dabbled much earlier than that! I’ve had short stories published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books, am a regular contributor to a local magazine, Pittsburgh Parent, and have had essays in local newspapers as well.

I have a PhD in Reading Education and currently work as a Language Arts Coach at a school in Pittsburgh. I work with teachers and their students in grades k-8 and am lucky to learn something new from them every time I walk through their doors.

My first novel, The Last Letter (2011 IPPY Gold Medal–Regional Fiction, Midwest, 2011 Indie Excellence Finalist Award for Historical Fiction and Regional Fiction, 2011 International Book Awards Finalist for Historical Fiction and Best New Fiction), was a fascinating trip through history, punctuated with fictional characters and events. The idea for the story grew from my great-great grandmother’s letters (see My Dear Frank for the complete set of letters!) written during the year of her engagement to Frank Arthur. The beautiful letters are the inspiration for the novel, the seed from which The Last Letter’s characters and their voices grew.

I’ve also written women’s fiction (COMING SOON!) and have written another historical fiction novel (COMING A LITTLE LATER!) set in 1948 in a town not far from Oakmont, PA.

I’m considering revisiting my characters and setting of The Last Letter for a future book, but I hope readers will enjoy the fact I write about varied eras and places and that they will love each book for it’s unique setting and time.

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample of After the Fog by Kathleen Shoop: