Friday, June 30, 2017

Any Hope of Redeeming Our Eroding Democratic Foundations Must Begin With a Clear Recognition of How Bad Things Are by Burt Hall, author of The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy








For over thirty years, World War II veteran and author Burt Hall assessed accountability in government and national security. Now, this seasoned, professional analyst delivers a tough account of what went wrong in our politics and system of government over the past two decades and what we can do about it. 

The right wing (not to be confused with Conservatism) has hijacked the Republican Party and wrecked havoc on our nation. It exploited basic flaws in our system to gain power and a series of major setbacks and a weakened democracy have followed. 

The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy lays out clearly what the basic flaws in our system are and how they can be fixed. The danger is that an ongoing shift of political power to the very wealthy and suppression of voting rights is silencing the voice of the average citizen. 

If elected officials do not fix the basic flaws, the American people have alternatives in our democracy and must take matters into their own hands.

ANY HOPE OF REDEEMING OUR ERODING DEMOCRATIC FOUNDATIONS MUST BEGIN WITH A CLEAR RECOGNITION OF HOW BAD THINGS ARE
By Burt Hall
The American people are deeply frustrated with not being fairly represented in Congress and not having a voice in our democracy. They are demanding an end to our great political divide and a return to a working democracy. For years politicians have been well aware of these concerns and the need for the two parties to be civil and work together. And, they well know that trust in government has been at an all time low. But, the problem persists unabated.
The only sure way for change may be to confront politicians with the results of their mishandling of government affairs and insist on public accountability.   Government mishandling for three decades and their adverse effects are described in this article. It concludes with how we can restore our democracy back to normal in partnership with the voting public.
Our great political divide began in a big way when, after owning the White House for 12 years, Republicans lost it to the Clinton presidency. They were outraged at the loss, considered his victory illegitimate and believed he had to be driven from office. The political environment that followed has continued to the present day and is best expressed by Republican George Voinovich. After serving as an outstanding mayor and governor, he worked across the aisle during two terms in the Senate (winning all 88 Ohio counties) and always had the ear of the president. He confessed at Senate retirement that the attitude of his colleagues was “We’re going to get what we want or the country can go to hell”.

To get what they wanted, Republicans dishonored the integrity of the American ballot with two strategies. First, they dramatically changed their response to presidential elections from honoring the “people have spoken” to one of no presumption of legitimacy of an elected president. Second, Republicans limited voter participation of groups likely to vote Democratic and then diluted the voting power of those who did vote.
The Republican no presumption of legitimacy strategy led to immediate refusals to accept presidential election results. In the case of President Clinton, baseless investigations and impeachment plagued his tenure and were employed in a failed coup to remove him from office. The vast majority of Americans, members of Congress, law professors and historians favored censuring Clinton for having lied under oath about a private affair -- a public reprimand.
However, obsessed with impeachment, House Republican leaders railroaded it in a lame duck House session by blackmailing their members to get the necessary votes. House leaders knew Senate conviction was out of the question; their intent was to simply force Clinton to resign, as Nixon had done. He did not. The impeachment had nothing to do with Clinton’s performance in office and it violated the U.S. Constitution (Protecting American Democracy Against Internal and External Interference, pp 2-3).
The Republican strategy of Limited voter participation led to control of legislatures across the nation and in Washington and gave Republicans the power to obstruct presidents, gridlock legislation and shutdown government. They did so relentlessly during the Obama presidency. He was delegitimized and ruthlessly obstructed nonstop during his tenure in an attempt to force his presidency to fail. It did not. Among the many legislative obstructions were refusals to consider rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and reforming our immigration system – matters that still are unresolved today.
Both Clinton and Obama had been duly elected for two terms and weathered the storm. Historians now rank them near the top ten of all U.S. presidents. Throughout their four terms, the American people suffered with a negative political environment during which much more could have been accomplished for them economically and otherwise. The first Republican administration to follow was the Bush/Cheney presidency and the second is the one we have now, the Trump presidency.
The attempts to nullify Clinton’s presidency and the related media frenzy led to the close presidential election that followed. The Supreme Court elected George W. Bush, by overstepping its judicial authority and stopping the Florida recount of the closest election in history. Soon afterwards, two independent media recounts showed that the Supreme Court had elected the wrong president.
Retired Republican Justice Sandra Day O’Connor later acknowledged they should not have taken the case. This is not the only time that an overreaching and politicized Supreme Court has been no friend of our democracy. They also unleashed, with Citizens United, massive amounts of money into our system of elections – a form of legalized bribery -- and gutted the Voting Rights Act (ibid, pp 11-12).
The Bush/Cheney Republican presidency did not maintain President Clinton’s priorities on balanced budgets with surpluses or on responding to the gathering threat of international terrorism. Osama Bin Laden had already declared war on the United States and attacked us several times, including a1993 bombing of the World Trade Center that failed. The terrorist leader was captured, prosecuted and jailed. Clinton responded to the rising threat by appointing a chief of counterterrorism to the White House who reported directly to him. They developed a series of anti-terrorism capabilities and a bold plan of attack to destroy Osama Bin Laden’s network in Afghanistan. It was to be activated after the FBI confirmed responsibility for a 2000 attack on the Navy destroyer, USS Cole.
During transition, the Bush/Cheney White House was fully informed of the gravity of the terrorism threat and the network headed by Osama Bin Laden by President Clinton’s national security team, the CIA Director, the White House chief of counter-terrorism and two separate U.S. national security commissions, one on terrorism and the other on threats of the 21st century. Nevertheless, the Bush/Cheney White House (1) let a CIA death warrant on Bin Laden lapse and refused twice to renew it, (2) demoted the chief of counterterrorism who no longer reported to the president and (3) disregarded the Bin Laden attack plan despite his responsibility for the USS Cole attack.
During the spring and summer that followed, the U.S. received extraordinary warnings from heads of state of England (twice), Jordan (twice) Russia (“in strongest possible terms “) and from intelligence agencies of other countries, such as the top ones of Germany and Israel. Warnings included the hijacking of U.S. aircraft for use as missiles and that twenty al-Qaeda members had slipped into the U.S., four of whom were training to fly. Israel gave us a terrorist list of persons residing in the U.S. and four of them were the actual hijackers. Another warning reported the 9/11 code, “The Big Wedding”.
The CIA Director informed the White House that “attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning …This is going to be a big one … of catastrophic proportions.”
In July, when there was still no response, the CIA Director made an emergency unannounced visit to the White House to present his case for a military response at that “very moment”. Again there was no response -- no serious precautions taken, no rounding up of al-Qaeda agents reported to be in our country, no screening of flying schools and passenger lists, no locks put on cockpit doors and, most damaging, no warnings made to the American people as President Clinton had done with far lesser terrorism threats (ibid pp 3-5).
Following the 9/11 breach of national security, the White House recklessly responded with two unnecessary wars with no end in sight, while allowing Bin Laden to escape without pursuit. Neither of the wars were justified based on information known at that time. (ibid pp 5, 6). Cover-ups of these colossal errors in judgment followed and permitted reelection of the failed presidency for a second term. The Katrina disaster, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a plummeting stock market and huge job losses followed.
Why no accountability? Some possibilities are (1) the 9/11 Commission feared the White House and their supporters in the media and elsewhere would undermine recommendations in their report, (2) media management feared confronting a sitting president with something as charged as 9/11 and life-and-death accountability and (3) the Democratic Party has not been able or willing to defend against an overly aggressive Republican Party that was out to win at any cost. Had the shoe been on the other foot, Democrats would have been held accountable in spades (ibid pp 10, 12, 15).
The damage done by the Bush/Cheney presidency was astronomical in terms of total loss of life, injury, forced displacement of millions of innocent civilians and a massive worldwide increase in international terrorism. They also handed over to a new president a long-term federal debt of massive proportions structured for decades, an economy losing 800,000 jobs a month, a housing market in crisis, a dying auto industry, a tumbling stock market and a decline in world leadership. Future historians will find it difficult to estimate the devastation done.
As to limiting voter participation, the votes of Democrats and Independents willing to leap voting hurdles erected by Republicans were rendered worthless by legislative boundaries drawn to elect only members of one party. Voters could no longer choose their elected officials; party officials had already done it for them. In general, those who might vote against their candidate were exported and those who were likely to favor their candidate were imported. For example, legislative boundaries were drawn to pack African Americans in large voting districts and create many small white districts likely to vote Republican.
These distorted and discriminatory voting districts contributed to landslides in 9 out of every 10 House races in 2016. In 2017, they contributed to two special election Republican wins. For example, not even a strong Democrat candidate with a $39 million war chest could overcome the GOP engineered map for Georgia’s sixth district. It has been safe for 21 straight elections (The Secret Behind Latest Democratic losses, Hedrick Smith). Among other things, this unconstitutional practice offers candidates safe seats and freedom to be totally partisan. And, it discourages competition from worthy candidates of the other party. While both parties do this, Republicans did it four times as much as Democrats using a very effective high-tech computer-aided method.
It is clearly unconstitutional to rig voting systems for personal and partisan gain of the political party in power. At the state level, illegal districts with legislative majorities permit passage of unconstitutional bills, such as voter suppression and discriminatory bills that hurt everyday Americans. At the federal level, illegal districts permit obstruction of a president of the other party or, when their party owns the White House, the passage of bad legislation, such as the recent healthcare bills. If there were any justice, guilty legislatures would be barred from passing new laws, other than essential government functions, until their districts were redrawn and new elections held.
The courts are taking an eternity to deal with problems of voters’ rights, rigged partisan voting maps and big money influence over elections while legislation languished in Congress that could have corrected these problems long ago.
Now, our two-party system is broken and too divided for any president to govern and we are living in an entirely different world today because of it. Our worldwide admired democracy has been abandoned. And, unless civility returns to our politics, we are heading for a national crisis of unknown proportions.
Is it OK for Republicans to interfere for decades with our electoral system, but wrong for Russia to do it in the 2016 election? Is Russian hacking worst than voter suppression and partisan drawn maps diluting power of those who do vote? Do Americans have some special privilege to interfere with their elections that outsiders don’t have? Do we need protection from both? A cartoon in the Richmond Times Dispatch said “What makes you think the Russians can do a better job of undermining our democracy than we can?”
Trump is just a symptom of our unraveling democracy. We must deal with the underlying problems or symptoms will surface again in different ways in future elections. Any hope of restoring our democracy and revitalizing the Democratic Party must begin with a clear recognition of how bad things are today and holding public officials accountable for their mishandling of government affairs. Only when confronted with these facts will Republicans reform their win–at-any-cost political strategies and regain the trust of the American people. And, as their own Republican governor John Kasich recently said, “No one will ever remember you if you don’t put the country first.”
Overall, the mission of the Democratic Party should be to turn our politics around to the better days of the last century when our country was mostly unified and exceptional (ibid, pp 13 and 16-19). Developing a way to do that will be difficult. One way is to conduct a week-long session, when Congress is on recess, to brainstorm a message and a strategy for its execution that is in the public interest. During these deliberations the Democratic Party must figure out what it stands for in our democracy. Otherwise, it can’t win anything. The week-long session should include the best thinkers and leaders of the Democratic Party, including past presidents and vice-presidents.
The ultimate aim of the Democratic message should be to address reforms of our electoral system so that future members of Congress will (1) be elected to provide fair representation in accordance with our Constitution, (2) accept how their actions affect the country at large and (3) protect the public against interference with our political system, whether foreign or domestic. The Democratic message must close the gap between rural and urban communities with policies and an economy that are fair to both. The message must change the culture in Congress to the successful bipartisan one of earlier decades, promote youthful Democratic leadership and encourage return of disappearing Republican moderates who contributed so much to our exceptionalism of the past century (ibid, pp 13, 14). Ideally, the message would be led by a persuader-in-chief with potential of becoming the next president.
Encouraging a participatory democracy of ideas and feedback as our democracy is restored will lead to overwhelming grass roots support and resources to assist in coming elections. Relying on an anti-Trump strategy would be unwise and detrimental to the future of the Democratic Party. History will simply repeat itself. In the end, Democrats must correct the corrupt political system that stole their power and Supreme Court seat and hold public officials accountable for inexcusable mishandling of government affairs. Until Republicans begin to accept responsibility for their misconduct, they will not be either ready or entitled to serve in office.

Monday, June 26, 2017

SEDUCTION SQUAD: TAINTED PRE-ORDER BLITZ



Title: SEDUCTION SQUAD: TAINTED
Author: Amanda Stewart
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: 111
Genre: Erotic Romance

The members of Seduction Squad are beautiful, skillful and deadly. Trained in the twin arts of seduction and assassination, their mission is to discover the darkest secrets of the world's most powerful men.

Sex, secrets and slaughter

On Christie Mason's eighteenth birthday, crime boss Theo Ward took her virginity and walked out of her life without a backward glance. She's quietly nursed a broken heart for ten years, but now, all signs point to Theo having masterminded her father's downfall. For that, "Uncle Theo" will pay.

In exchange for induction into the Seduction Squad, Christie will gain access to Theo's lavish floating sex party and take out a powerful Colombian politician—one of the Squad's untouchable targets.

What she'll do to Theo is her reward.

Christie hadn't bargained on her body betraying her, or on Theo still being all she ever wanted. And while Theo can't get enough of Christie, he's suspicious—and on borrowed time: Christie's not the only party guest out for revenge.

PREORDER YOUR COPY:

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Book Excerpt:


“Theo Ward is out to get me.” My father had said that just before his arrest.

“Theo did this.” His last words as they took him down to the cells. He killed himself later that day.

Now I was out to get Theo Ward. I had nothing to lose. After the scandal of my father’s disgrace, my business had taken a nose dive into oblivion. My social life had died along with it. Invitations had dried up, friends had stopped calling, acquaintances…well, I didn’t seem to have any. I had gone from socialite to outcast in a single, tarnished bound.

I learned about the Seduction Squad from my father. We had never been close, but we had made those prison visits count. For the first time, we had really talked to each other. And we had touched on the subject of Theo. The man whose life was so closely entwined with ours. I hadn’t gotten the whole story, but my father had finally mentioned his name.

“Bastard is bulletproof. Even the Seduction Squad can’t get close.” My father’s voice had been bitter.

“Seduction Squad?” 

He had clammed up then and it had taken some time to pry the details from him. He said it wasn’t the sort of thing a man discussed with his daughter. Eventually, he told me. Over the years, my holier-than-thou father had used the services of a unique organization to find out his enemies’ secrets. That organization was known as the Seduction Squad.

Even though I was shocked to discover this hypocritical side of my father, I was fascinated. To someone brought up protected from anything remotely erotic, it sounded so glamorous. The Seduction Squad were the modern-day equivalent of Mata Hari, the infamous spy who used her body to entice powerful men to part with secrets. The Squad was based on the sixteenth-century team known as the EscuadrĂ³n Volante, or Flying Squadron. Working on the orders of the French Queen, Catherine de’ Medici, they were a hand-picked team of beautiful courtesans who had ensnared the most influential men in the land.

The Seduction Squad was a private company. Governments, businesses, even wealthy individuals such as my father, paid its manager, a woman known as the Signora, millions for the services of its members.

Moderation had never appealed to me. If I was going to get my revenge on Theo, it was going to be absolute. I was going to make him pay for that night ten years ago and for the pain I had endured ever since. He was going to regret ruining my father out of petty spite and causing his death. And it turned out the Signora had a very lucrative contract lined up…one that could only be fulfilled if she could get an operative on board The Dark Side.

I knew now, of course, that being part of the squad wasn’t glamorous. My induction had been grueling and gritty. I had learned my new trade from an experienced sex worker and a trained assassin. There had been times when I thought I wouldn’t make the grade. Times when I hoped I wouldn’t.

After a particularly hard day, Jake, the squad’s Head of Security, had taken me to one side.

“You look like the princess who has escaped from a fairytale, but no matter what I throw at you—kickboxing, pistol shooting, assault course—you come out on top. What is it with you? Do you need the money?” The squad paid well and the Signora looked after her girls.

“No. I have an old score to settle.” I had smiled. “But when I’ve done that, the money is going to help.”

At the end of my training, Jake had handed me a graduation present. It was a T-shirt with a picture of a cute kitten holding a blood-stained machete between its paws. The words Killer Pussy were embroidered underneath. “Only Seduction Squad members can understand what those words really mean.” He had unzipped his jacket to show me he was wearing the same design. “And me, because I live with one.” Although they were totally professional when they were together, I had discovered from some of the other girls that Jake and the Signora were an item.

I had brought the T-shirt with me on this cruise, even though I figured I wouldn’t get a chance to wear it. It was a reminder of what I had been through to get here.

There was still plenty of time before I needed to dress in the clothes that would take me back in time. I sank lower in the water, sliding my hand between my legs. Closing my eyes, I pictured Theo’s face. His looks had a devilish edge, like a fallen angel or a hell-raising rock star. With pale skin and thick black hair that always managed to look tousled…as if he—or maybe someone else—had been dragging impatient fingers through it. His features were carved from granite with a determined, stubbled chin and cheekbones so chiseled they should be illegal. But it was his eyes. The memory of those onyx depths, so dark it was impossible to distinguish between the pupil and iris. If the eyes were the window to the soul, the bleak, beautiful intensity of Theo’s gaze held its own warning.
 


About the Author

Amanda Stewart writes erotic romance for Carina Press. “Just erotic. Nothing kinky. It's the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.” (Terry Pratchett)
She lives in England and loves to read and travel, trying to combine to two as often as she can. Amanda is married to a lovely man, is mum to two grown up children, and has recently discovered the joy of being a grandmother. 

Amanda Stewart also writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense as Jane Godman.

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GIVEAWAY!

Amanda Stewart is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card & ePub Copy of SEDUCTION SQUAD: TAINTED!

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  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive both $25 Amazon Gift Card & ePub copy of SEDUCTION SQUAD: TAINTED
  • This giveaway ends midnight July 7.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on July 8.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
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Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Feature: Great Objectives by Robert Finch








In his book Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill refers to the great objects of human life. We may assume that that what Mill calls an object is the same as an objective in modern parlance. The examples of great objectives that Mill cites include power, fame, and money. One wonders how seriously Mill was actually endorsing such aims to be the overarching objectives of living or whether he was simply expressing his finding that many people actually do take such aims as these for life. The contention is that Mill was indeed recognizing that people do choose such goals in life. After all, happiness has been recognized as an objective of life at least since the time of Aristotle, and virtue has a similarly ancient pedigree. It is quite common for ordinary people to adopt such mottos as “Healthy, wealthy, and wise” as aims for life. But we know that having more than one such value can lead to conflicts. This had been a concern to Sidgwick as well as other nineteenth-century moralists. A resolution to the problem was found by the time of the twentieth century, when it was realized that we should not try to achieve definite objectives, but instead look to some other procedure, such as a variety of evolution, to shape our objectives. In that case, we make plans and evaluate them, as we proceed. We should use our values, as Dewey recommended, for guideposts. The book discusses the methods of arriving at such plans and weighs some of the ethical and moral problems an individual or a society might face at the present time.



Robert Finch is the author of five collections of essays and co-editor of The Norton Book of Nature Writing. He broadcasts a weekly commentary on NPR and serves on the faculty of the MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. He lives in Wellfleet, MA.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

BLOG TOUR: TELL ON YOU BY FREDA HANSBURG


Title: TELL ON YOU 
Author: Freda Hansburg 
Publisher: Micro Publishing Media 
Pages: 248 
Genre: Thriller

Tell on You is a psychological suspense novel that best fits within the Gone Girl-inspired niche genre of “grip lit.”   Jeremy Barrett’s obsessive love equals that of Jay Gatsby for Daisy Buchanan, as life imitates art in his private school English class. But his angst-driven infatuation brings dire consequences as he is drawn into the machinations of his disturbed 16-year-old student Nikki Jordan, whose bad intentions rival those of her teacher.  A fast-paced, drama-filled tale, Tell on You reminds readers about the wildness and trauma of adolescence—and the self-defeating behaviors to which adults resort in times of stress. From gaslighting to vicious bullying, poisonous family privilege to the loss of a parent—Freda Hansburg draws on her experience as a clinical psychologist to explore the depths of each dark situation in Tell on You.

PURCHASE YOUR COPY:

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Book Excerpt:



“OWW!!”  EIGHT-YEAR OLD Brandon Jordan screeched as his sister Nikki twisted his arm in an Indian burn.  “Nikki, stop!”
            His cries brought Mom crashing into Nikki’s room.  “Nikki, I won’t have you bullying your brother again.  Let him go this instant.”
            “But I caught him in here messing with my stuff!” Nikki gave Brandon’s arm a final wrench before releasing him.  Pouting, he scurried from her room. 
            “I don’t care what he did.  I told you, keep your hands to yourself.”  Her mother turned away, judgment delivered. 
Probably in a hurry to get back to her vodka and reality TV.  “At least when Dad was here, somebody stuck up for me,” Nikki called after her.
Mom’s angry face reappeared.  “Stuck up for you?”  A bitter laugh.  “Stuck it to you, and all of us, is more like it.”
“Wasn’t me he left,” Nikki said.
“Really?  When’s the last time he even phoned you?”  Her mother walked off with that parting shot.
“Like you’d know, bitch.”  Nikki said it under her breath, but not under enough.
“Who do you think you’re talking to?”  Mom stormed back into the room, got right up in Nikki’s face, breath boozy.  “You’re grounded for the next three days, kiddo.  Give me your car keys, right now.”
“Maa!” Nikki protested.  “How will I get to school?” 
Her mother held out her hand for the keys.  “Get up an hour early and I’ll drop you on the way to work.”
“No way!”  Nikki fished the keys from her bag and dropped them into her mother’s open palm.
“Then walk.”  Her mom headed out of the room, turning back for one last jab.  “Or call your father.”
This time Nikki closed the bedroom door before cursing her out.  Walking to school sucked, and tomorrow’s weather forecast called for cold.  Call your father.  Very funny.  Dad lived in Austin now.  But it gave her an idea.
Nikki picked up her phone to make the call, rehearsing the pitch in her mind.  I’m so lonely, Mr. B.  I’m taking care of my brother again because my mom went out.  And she forgot we were supposed to take my car in for a new battery.  And I was wishing…I know I shouldn’t ask you…but if you met me and gave me a ride to school tomorrow, I’d get to see you.  You wouldn’t have to take me right to school, just drop me nearby. 
She’d sell it to him.  And after that, she’d see about getting even with her mother and
brother.  Maybe steal Brandon’s Game Boy batteries and hide them.  And see how much
distilled white vinegar she could add to Mom’s vodka bottle before the bitch actually
 noticed.  Nobody, but nobody, got to score the winning point against Nikki Jordan.



About the Author

Freda Hansburg is a psychologist and Tell On You is her debut trade thriller.  She self-published the suspense novel Shrink Rapt and co-authored two self-help books, PeopleSmart – a best-seller translated into ten languages – and Working PeopleSmart.  Freda lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she is working on her next novel and her Pickleball game.

Her latest book is the thriller, Tell On You.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

This tour brought to you by 

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Feature: Enter Venus by Sondra Luger








In ENTER VENUS the Goddess of Love comes to earth to save a marriage that’s falling apart. In the course of her magical ministrations, the art masterpieces at the magnificent Frick mansion spring to life and into action and a torrential downpour sweeps characters from a New York City street to Venice, Italy.





Sondra Luger taught English in a New York City high school. Her first romantic novel, RICH, NEVER MARRIED, RICH was inspired by Jane Austen’s PRIDE & PREJUDICE, and her second, BACK FROM BORA BORA, was inspired by the business world of the young and the resilience and energy of the so-called aged. Her mysteries, DROP ME OFF IN HARLEM and MURDER ON BROADWAY, both of which feature the same female fashion model detective, are a tribute to the Roaring Twenties and to the author’s mother, who was a high fashion model. Sondra comes from an arts-oriented family with musical talent, and she has recorded a music CD with her sister, singer and songwriter Carolyn Luger. The songs were written by music icons of the twentieth century. The album is TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Feature: The Highlander's Triumph by Eliza Knight






He was a warrior fighting for Scottish freedom.

She was his enemy’s mistress.

Laird Brandon Sinclair has given his life to the Scottish cause. Swearing fealty to Robert the Bruce, he will stop at nothing to see oppression end.

Lady Mariana wants nothing more than to break free of the tyrannical hold the English king has on her. When he sends her to Scotland with a message for the rebels, instead of obeying his orders, she finds herself submitting to her desires. After one sizzling, life-altering night, Brandon and Mariana must part ways. But Mariana has no intention of betraying her heart again.

And Brandon is determined to get her back. Stealing Longshank’s secrets felt like victory, but taking his woman will be this Highlander’s ultimate triumph.







Nearing spring, 1298
Highlands, Scotland
SMOKE filled Laird Brandon Sinclair’s lungs as he rode on horseback with his men toward the north of Kinterloch Village.
High above the wooden wall, flames burst in hungry orange licks. A vengeful fire that would turn everything in its path to ash. The late afternoon sky was already overcast, but the smoke of the blaze made it nearly black.
No villagers ran from the fire. No animals screamed. The chaos that should be erupting with the flames was non-existent—as if deserted. But he knew it couldn’t be. The people, the animals, were either trapped or had managed to get out from a different gate.
The Scottish troops’ fearless leader, William Wallace, had already charged through the front gates into the inferno as if he were a man with a death wish. He’d ordered Brandon and his men to check the north side for survivors. Brandon’s cousin, Ronan Sutherland, had taken his warriors to the west side near the loch.
Far from his castle and lands in the north of the Highlands, Brandon had traveled to Eilean Donan the month prior to help his cousins Daniel Murray and Ronan along with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in the war against the English. But it seemed now it wasn’t only the English they were fighting—but traitor Scots too.
A loud crash reverberated through the air as another building collapsed behind the wall. A rush of heat surged his way, and a cloud of dark smoke billowed into the sky, in stark contrast to the world around them, a peaceful, beautiful place with lush pine trees and gorse bushes, even in winter. Hell set in the middle of heaven.
Doubt darkened his mood. There would be no survivors. Not in a raging inferno like this—one that rivaled Hades. He shook his head and spurred his horse forward. His chestnut colored warhorse, Checkmate, pounded the earth with his massive hooves.
If only they’d been able to get to the village before Laird Ross—traitor to all Scots and their ancestors. The damned bastard had defected to the English, and since doing so, had laid a path of destruction across the Highlands. There wasn’t a man Brandon knew that hadn’t been affected by Ross’ treachery. Hell, it seemed like the man was on a mission to make enemies with everyone of true Scottish heart.
Brandon’s thoughts were cut midway when they rounded the burning wall on the north side.
“Halt!” he shouted to his men, reining in Checkmate.
A woman burst through the wooden gate, exposing the interior angry flaming village. Hair black as a midnight sky, skin covered in soot. Her dark green gown was covered by a singed, once high-quality, wool cloak. She tripped, falling onto her hands and knees, coughing, yet she did not stop. The lass crawled forward, every move beleaguered in her attempt to escape the flaming village.
Without a thought, Brandon jumped from Checkmate, and ran toward her.



Eliza Knight is a USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of sizzling historical romance and time-travel erotic romance. Under the name E. Knight, she pens riveting historical fiction. She runs the award-winning blog, History Undressed. When not reading, writing and researching, she likes to cuddle up in front of a warm fire with her own knight in shining armor. 

Connect with her at http://www.elizaknight.com or http://www.historyundressed.com. You can sign up for her newsletter at  http://eepurl.com/CSFFD. Follow her on social media at:











Monday, June 12
Book featured at Books, Dreams, Life
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Tuesday, June 13
Book reviewed at The Book Junkie Reads
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Wednesday, June 14
Book featured at Nicole's Book Musings
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Book featured at Write and Take Flight
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Friday, June 16
Book featured at Warrior Woman Winmill
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