stories in and

Realization by Joyce Reynolds-Ward

THEY’VE ALMOST REALIZED THEIR DREAMS…BUT CAN THEY REMAIN THEMSELVES? The indentured labor wars heat up as Ruby Barkley and Gabriel Martiniere struggle with medical complications that interfere with their fight to stop the sinister goals of Gabe’s father Philip. Discoveries by their son Brandon about the degree to which Philip and the family corporation, the Martiniere Group, are involved in unethical, interdicted human experimentation push them into accepting a questionable treatment to speed their recovery. Philip’s direct challenge initiates Gabe’s final push to take over the Martiniere Group. Ruby and Brandon consolidate family support behind Gabe. When a high-profile assassination attempt at a political banquet reveals the existence of cyborged Martiniere descendants and clones of Philip intended to provide him with replacement parts, Ruby and Gabe must take action. One clone—Michael—still survives. Along with their bid to win control of the Martiniere empire, Ruby and Gabe now face the dilemma of what is to be done with Michael. Can they save both the family and Philip’s clone—or should they even try? The realization of their dreams is within Ruby and Gabe’s reach. Can they fulfill it while still remaining true to themselves?


Ascendant by Joyce Reynolds-Ward

WHAT DOES ASCENSION TO POWER REALLY COST? Six months after the triumphant collaborative conclusion of the AgInnovator Superhero game show, Ruby Barkley and her ex-husband Gabriel Martiniere still struggle with the professional and personal fallout from their victory. The Superhero money allowed Ruby to launch her line of agricultural biobots. But one of the RubyBot spinoffs, the Defender, leads to unsettling revelations about crop tampering using body-modified indentured workers. Their son Brandon uncovers even more disturbing information about the abuse of indentureds as he campaigns to end it. All of these disclosures lead back to the Martiniere Group, the family corporation controlled by Gabe’s malevolent uncle, Philip Martiniere. Meanwhile, Ruby and Gabe wrestle with what form their resumed relationship will take, as Ruby contemplates whether she wants to take on the role of a Martiniere wife. The revelation that Gabe’s father is not who they thought, and Philip’s attempt to force Ruby away from Gabe once again confirms her decision. But the need to rescue one of Brandon’s valued indentured informants turns celebration into catastrophe. Will Ruby and Gabe be able to recover from this disaster—or will Philip triumph yet again in his campaign to destroy Gabe?


Inheritance by Joyce Reynolds-Ward

YOU CAN’T ESCAPE THE INHERITANCE OF THE PAST…OR CAN YOU? Rancher Ruby Barkley and her ex-husband Gabe Ramirez are competing head-to-head for the AgInnovator game show’s new one-shot award, the Ag Superhero. The winner walks away with $3.75 million per year for five years, with no accountability or need to re-earn the Superhero, unlike the Innovator’s other awards. But issues beyond those raised by their long-ago acrimonious divorce face Ruby and Gabe. Fence cutting. Rogue biobots destructively ranging beyond programmed parameters. Physical attacks. And the realization that they may need to reunite to save their son Brandon from indentured servitude. Then the secret shadow of Gabe’s hidden inheritance reveals itself. Will he step up to the Martiniere Legacy—and what role will Ruby accept in any future they may share?


Gunships and Goodbyes by Casey White

McCallister was done with the galaxy. The galaxy wasn’t quite done with him. When the Tamani blew a hole in his ship, his friend, and his career, Richard McCallister called it quits. No more TerraCorp work. No more cheerfully donning the uniform and pretending he couldn’t see the cracks in the bulkheads around him. From that moment, he’d be his own man again. Until the message came – a whisper, carried through the few contacts he had left to the Dust, the farthest reaches of settled space. A warning that the Tamani had returned. When it arrives, McCallister is presented with a choice: He can run, hiding in a darker corner of the universe that the Tamani haven’t found yet. He can stay moving, and stay alive. Or he can turn back, straight into the maw of their approaching doom, and pluck his friend’s legacy from its teeth. Winning means honoring his partner’s memory. Losing means sharing his fate. The choice is his.


A Hunter Among Wolves by Ben Stava

Sometimes the reward justifies the risk. For Sylene, the life of a bounty hunter is both perilous and exciting, providing an opportunity to travel and encounter all manner of folk. However, when an offer too good to pass up takes her to a desert town far from civilization, outside the rule of law, she realizes things are not quite what they appear, and the situation is far worse than what she was told. If Sylene wants to not only survive, but also complete the job, she has to rely on both old and new friends and navigate a town where just about everyone has a bounty on their head. An action and adventure fantasy novella, A Hunter Among Wolves contains adult content such as profanity, violence, and sexual (but not explicit) content.


His Ragged Company by Rance D. Denton

A pissed-off warlock with a taste for revenge. An army of sand-golems with fistfuls of magic. A wishing well with a mind of its own. No wonder Blackpeak, Texas never got its spot on the map. Town marshal Elias Faust thinks that he can make any problem go away if he throws enough lead at it. The living’s easy for a lawman. Bloody, but easy – that is, until Magnate Gregdon arrives with his undead syndicate to tear the town of Blackpeak, Texas apart. When a shootout with a pair of outlaws goes sideways, Elias Faust accidentally draws the Magnate’s attention. As if dealing with arcane sorcery, reanimated corpses, and the Magnate’s personal vendetta aren’t enough, Faust finds himself at the center of a power-struggle for Blackpeak’s eldritch secrets. Suddenly, staying alive just got a lot more complicated. Hunted by a cadre of sandshades and hounded by sinister spellcraft, Elias Faust may be the only bag of skin defiant enough to keep Blackpeak from being destroyed. To outlast the Magnate’s disciples, he’ll need to shoot straighter, run faster, and live longer…even if it means sacrificing a part of himself to do just that.


No Land For Heroes by Cal Black

Mildred Berry is down to her last four bullets… In a wild west where the only things more dangerous than outlaws are dragons, Deputy Berry is struggling to protect her town and keep her family fed. As a last resort, she robs a train for ammunition only to find that the cargo she needs so badly was owned by war hero Frederic Rousseau. The same Frederic Rousseau whom she served during the Amelior Civil War. The same Frederic Rousseau she’s been hiding from for the last five years. Millie knows a secret that could ruin Rousseau’s life, and he’ll stop at nothing to keep her from telling the truth. With her violent past bearing down on the life she’s built for herself, Millie has to decide how far she’ll be willing to go to keep her town safe.


Effigest by Amy Campbell

When the sins of the past demand payment, his magic is the price. ​Blaise Hawthorne never wanted to hurt anyone, and he certainly didn’t want to become a weapon. When using his dangerous magic to free his outlaw friends destroys an enemy fortress, the young mage is imprisoned for his crimes. Abused and at the mercy of his tormenters, Blaise’s only ally is a duplicitous man he’s not sure he can trust. ​After escaping his cruel upbringing, politician Malcolm Wells had everything—or so he thought. He didn’t count on falling for Breaker Blaise Hawthorne. And it’s all his fault that Blaise has been captured as a war criminal. The Breaker is running out of time, and Malcolm’s money, power, and influence have proven useless to win his freedom. ​When a magic-slinging outlaw storms into town, Malcolm seizes the opportunity to form an uneasy alliance. The pair hatch a bold gambit to free Blaise, but their enemy is one step ahead. At the mercy of Malcolm’s dark past, everything they fought for unravels. All the magic in the world may not be enough to save any of them from the nightmare to come.


Where Blood Runs Gold by A.C. Cross

Sheriff Errol Thorpe’s life is chaotic, brutal, and above all, solitary. After an unimaginable loss years ago, all he feels is the compulsion to seek vengeance. But when a vulnerable family arrives in town, facing an ugly future, he is pulled headfirst into a web of violence, secrets, and things he never imagined. In search of truth and answers, Thorpe finds himself battling deadly flesh-eating Dust, acidic golden blood, and the political designs of powerful people – all the while learning how to be a person again. When Dust rises in San Dios, people hide indoors. When Sheriff Thorpe arrives, people run.


Nox by Cym Aros

Jesse, Ava, Rivka, and Marshal Smith ride into the Sierra Nevada foothills, hoping to reunite their rescued horse with her owners, a young couple gone missing in the mountains after an ambush by horse thieves. En route, the four become embroiled in a standoff with an army colonel bent on Indian extermination – a man with whom Jesse has a tangled and traumatic past. Their quest to find the missing couple becomes a broader mission, to defend an an entire Miwok village against the lethal threats of disease, starvation, massacre, and despair. Back at war, and confronted by an old nemesis, Jesse is overwhelmed by previously buried memories, and his mental health deteriorates. The braided histories of Jesse and the nearly-extinguished Miwok Indian village come to light. Jesse discovers himself to be a figure of Miwok legend, while the Miwok people offer him a path to the recovery of his spirit and a true homecoming.


Thanksgiving by Cym Aros

Jesse has returned from from a brutal stretch in a Nevada prison, but struggles to rejoin “normal” family life in California, burdened by unresolved bereavement and post-traumatic stress. His sister reaches out to him by way of a rescued horse in need of similar healing. Jesse travels to the impoverished mining town of his childhood to discover something of the horse’s past, and to seek out Ruth, left alone after the deaths of Thea and Deborah. His siblings travel with him, and each, in their own way, comes to a deeper understanding of their new brother.


Trail Markers by Cym Aros

This tale - the first in a series of three - opens in the summer of 1874, in a prison camp south of Carson City. Falsely accused and incarcerated, two half-brothers find themselves in a losing battle to survive corrupt and brutal conditions. Cole Franklin, twenty-nine, is the privileged scion of the late, much-lionized patriarch of a wealthy California family. Jesse, twenty-four, is that patriarch's bastard son, a fact unknown to Jesse or the surviving Franklins until a scant year and a half before. Jesse had come to the Franklins as an itinerant cowboy. He is the younger of the two men, but he had ridden a long, hard trail of poverty, prejudice, and violence in his few years. Jesse had grown up a dirt-poor, hard-working, fatherless boy in a dying Sierra mining town; by age sixteen, he had seen three years of combat as a scout and sharpshooter for the Union Army, and spent the last eight months of the war interred in a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. Cole is a strong man, and brave, but their current predicament is unlike any battlefield he has ever faced. Jesse understands too well where they are, and what might lie ahead. He takes desperate action to ensure Cole's freedom. The consequences of that action, for Jesse and the Franklin family, are severe and far-reaching. Trail Markers begins with the brothers' struggle against raw criminality - first, for simple survival; ultimately, for justice. Jesse faces bigotry, mob violence, and the shattering of his own mental health as he battles to regain his freedom and find an honorable path home to family and to the woman he loves.


The Adventures of Hank Fenn by Will Tinkham

For Hank, Sam never became Mark Twain. As a riverboat pilot, Sam saved young Hank from the crushing paddlewheels as the boy stowed away on the City of Memphis. Sam returned Hank to Minnesota when news reached downriver that Hank's mother was on trial for killing the father Hank had run away from. Years later, in a barber's chair prior to his mother's funeral, Hank reads a frog story that's awful close to a tall tale Sam once told. The magazine claims it's written by a fellow named Mark Twain. THE ADVENTURES OF HANK FENN (Americana #4) sends Hank searching the West—and then the East—for Mr. Twain. All along he and Sam exchange letters and make plans that never seem to get them together—Twain always on the road or abroad. Hank does find hatred and brutality while railroading and mining throughout this new frontier. He finds Calamity Jane in a Wyoming mining camp and Custer breaking treaties. He finds the Emperor of these United States. Ultimately Hank finds love, boys to raise and gold to unearth on a Black Hills mountaintop.


Of Honey and Wildfires (Songs of Sefate #1) by Sarah Chorn

From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil. What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory. The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all. Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.


I am Mrs. Jesse James by Pat Wahler

She captured his heart, but at what price? The long, bloody Civil War is finally at an end when Zee Mimms, the daughter of a Missouri preacher, is tasked with nursing her cousin, Jesse James, back to health after he suffers a near-fatal wound. During Jesse's long convalescence, the couple falls in love, but Jesse's resentment against the Federals runs deep. He has scores to settle. For him, the war will never be over. Zee is torn between deferring to her parents' wishes and marrying for security or marrying for love and accepting the hard realities of life with an outlaw--living under an assumed name and forever on the run. For her, the choice she makes means the war is only beginning. Discover why readers describe this richly imagined story of the woman who wed Jesse James as powerful, compelling, and emotional.


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