The Train: A Short Story
by Cendrine Marrouat
Genre: Literary Fiction
You never know what a train ride may have in store. Maggie is about to find out as she journeys to Coueuses to visit her family.
Release date: January 20, 2023
“In her short story The Train, Cendrine weaves a compelling narrative that quickly draws you in, making you care about her characters both naturally and organically, the emotional connection makes them very real to behold. Just like the journey itself, you find yourself getting caught up and travelling alongside with them, indulging in the intrigue that surrounds the protagonist; and before you know it, you have found yourself in a position of admiration and sympathy for the protagonist with all that she has been through.
Cendrine makes the writing process seem effortless but it is her engaging dialogue and sharp observations that drive the story to its compelling conclusion and ultimate redemption for those involved. I enjoyed this tale and its immersion immensely, this story showcases Cendrine’s emotional growth and storytelling abilities with quiet confidence and a careful undercurrent of understated panache.” – David Ellis, Author of See A Dream Within: Found “Poe”try Based On The Collected Poetry Works Of Edgar Allan Poe
“The Train is a hauntingly sweet story with undertones of love, forgiveness, and loss. Rarely does a short story use characters and setting to evoke emotions so masterfully. I highly recommend Cendrine Marrouat’s The Train. Her pointed, poignant storytelling conveys an emotional story that will stick with you long after you finish reading.”- Katrina Moody, Writer & Editor at KatrinaMoody.com
“The writing was simple, but powerful. As soon as I started reading, I was drawn in. It didn’t take long to read, but it was a thriller, and I found myself comparing it to Murder on the Orient Express and The Lady Vanishes. There was suspense, and a good story that made an impression.” – Kelly Marie Purdy
**Only .99 cents!**
Hello, my name is Cendrine Marrouat (“san-drEEn mar-wah”). I am a poet, photographer, fiction writer, and the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and A Warm Cup of Cozy. I have authored and co-authored more than 40 books, including A Particle of You: Love Poetry (2022), Tree Reflections (2022), In Her Own Words: A Collection of Short Stories & Flashku (2022), After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran & Alphonse de Lamartine (2021), Songs in Our Paths: Haiku & Photography (2020-2021), Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography (2021), Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku (2020), Walks: A Collection of Haiku (2019-2020), and In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play (2018).
My work has appeared in many publications, including Synkroniciti Magazine, On Landscape, Real Creative Magazine, Spillwords, Sweet Deluge, Life Pixel, Still Waters Run Deep (Lovely Silks Publishing, 2016), and eight cuts. I am the creator of the Sixku, Flashku, Sepigram, and Reminigram; as well as the co-creator of the Kindku, Pareiku, Vardhaku, and Hemingku.
I live in Winnipeg, Canada.
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Wonderful contemporary western tale. I didn’t read the first edition of this book but I definitely enjoyed reading this rewrite of it. To see familiar characters from the Wild Mustang Security series was a wonderful addition. Well done!The Reluctant Retiree
What’s more dangerous, stealing wild mustangs away from rustlers or losing her heart to the Texas Ranger who catches her?
Etta Ross is determined to rescue the small herd of mustangs from the rustlers who want to smuggle them to Mexico for slaughter. To do so, she has to avoid running into the legendary Texas Rangers.
When sexy Texas Ranger, Brody Jensen, finds Etta wounded, stranded and on foot in the middle of nowhere, Etta is forced to come up with a quick cover-story to explain away her dire straits. Brody knows the fiery beauty wasn’t out for a casual walk. He is bound and determined to protect Etta who is adamant she can save herself.
Can Brody find a way to tame Etta’s wild ways while stealing her heart for himself?
This book was previously published under a different title/author name. It has been re-edited, updated and expanded slightly.
Redrabbitt VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars DO YOU SUBMIT TO MY AUTHORITY? Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2023 I was impressed with this contemporary western story by Ms. Delta James, and it kept my attention and the pages turning as the tale unfolds. The story is full of mystery, suspense, murder, theft, angst, and passion. The tale takes the reader on a roller-coast ride of emotions, action, and adventure in this life and death story. Seeing that this is the first book in a series, I am already anticipating the next book. The story has a great cast of characters, and interactions, along with an intriguing storyline. Multiple world champion equestrienne, Etta Ross, is passionate about many things, and that includes saving the wild mustangs that she knows are being captured, transported to Mexico, and sold to slaughterhouses. She can’t just allow that to happen, and along with her champion horse, she will attempt to rescue and lead a group of mares and fouls to safety. Texas Ranger, Brody Jensen is concerned about the tire tracks he found, especially considering that there is a weight difference in the coming and going tracks. Going back to the area he will find Etta Ross on foot, but she has been shot in the shoulder. Dealing with her belligerent attitude, sassy mouth, and refusal of medical care will have him forcing the issue, including telling her he will arrest her. Learning that she knows the ringleader and that he also has her prized horse, adds to this case. The plot will take the issue of the Mustangs to a more sinister level of crime. Etta won’t leave well enough alone and allow the Rangers to do their own investigating and Brody will take her to task. True to his word, he is going to punish her and then claim her. “Brody. Her gentle whispering of his name felt like submission, sweet and welcome. And surprising.” “That’s not how a remorseful little girl behaves, Etta. You don’t call me names, and you quit your squirming. You’re not going anywhere until I’m sure I’ve gotten through to you. Well, you let me know when you are done fighting and want me to think about this being over.” The story will keep the reader on the edge of their seat as the Rangers uncover more about the rounding up of the wild mustangs. Taking Etta’s highly insured prized horse makes it grand theft, and there will be offers of deals being made. But is that going to be enough to keep Etta safe? Etta comes from a line of well-known great-grandparents, and she was brought up to ride, fight, hold her own, and shoot, and when she does shoot, she hits her target. Brody is keeping her at his home and not allowing her to leave and there are many spankings to keep her in line. He has never had a woman he wanted, and his wild cowgirl has proven to be a spunky, sassy, handful, but he is determined she will be his. If he isn’t spanking her, putting her in the corner, he is making love to her until she doesn’t want to leave. The story is one of power exchange and has many spankings, including using a belt, and explicit sex scenes. Note: I previously read the story by this author when she previously released it under a different pen name. I have been a fan of her books from the beginning.
Donna L 4.0 out of 5 stars ACTION PACKED Reviewed in the United States on January 24, 2023 This contemporary western romance story by Ms. James is filled with danger, action, suspense, a dominant male, and a feisty spitfire who puts her love of saving wild Mustangs before her safety. Enter Texas ranger Brody Jensen who was determined to keep Etta safe no matter how many times she ends up over his knees. The relationship between Brody and Etta developed quickly, too quickly for Etta to accept initially. Despite her adversity to Brody’s methods to keep her safe, she could not deny how much she enjoyed the intense pleasure that followed his discipline. Etta was a spitfire but there never a doubt that Brody was in control. He wanted to possess her body and soul. Etta was an interesting character. She did not like to be told what to do but thrived on it. She continued to try Brody’s patience with her impulsive, dangerous behavior but this earned her painful consequences. Brody was the entire package. Protective, dominant, warm, and confident. I admired how he always put Etta’s safety first and foremost.
JigsawGirl 4.0 out of 5 stars It Didn't Feel Like Instalove! Reviewed in the United States on January 21, 2023 I am not sure why I was expecting a shifter romance. Delta James has written a number of non-shifter romances. I was pleasantly surprised to find out this was one of her "fully human" romances, lol. Brody and Etta's story had a nice amount of suspense. Behind the scenes, Etta was involved in similar work like Willa from Book 1 - Mac in The Wild Mustang series. Etta was strong, independent, sassy, respected, and prone to putting herself in dangerous situations. I admired her fearlessness, while at the same time, thinking she was reckless. Brody was the typical dominant male believing strongly in discipline. He was also intelligent and respected in his own right. There was instalove in this story, but it really didn't feel like it. I have to be honest. I can't remember if Brody and Etta had met previously, or if their meeting was a first time occurrence. It didn't feel like they didn't know one another. Along with the suspense, there were elements of action and danger. I knew who was behind stealing the wild mustangs, but who was behind him? I still have questions. There was a whole mystery going on that would not have upset me had there were more details about it. This was a fast paced read that I completed in one sitting. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. If dominant men, discipline spankings and detailed sex offend you, take a pass on this one. I voluntarily read and reviewed the Advanced Reader Copy of this book.
(Doms of Club Eden, #1)
Publication date: March 20th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
The moment I laid eyes on Penny, her innocent, submissive nature called to my dominant side. I immediately volunteered to guide her exploration into my dark and decadent world.
I’m also playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with an obsessed psychopath whose goal is to destroy me. When my worlds threaten to collide, I’m forced to call it quits between us.
Soon I discover I’m too late, and she’s caught in the crossfire. Now, I’ll do everything in my power to protect the woman I’m falling for.
“Who do we have here?” A deep, gravelly voice at my right drew my attention. My breath hitched and my body heated when I spotted the sexiest man I’d ever laid eyes on. I’d always been a sucker for a man with salt and pepper hair. Damn, he filled out that navy t-shirt nicely. My eyes traveled his full length before returning to his face. I flushed at the amused half-smile he wore at my perusal. It took me a moment to remember he’d asked me a question.
“Pe-Penny,” I stuttered, almost breathless as the heat in my face intensified. I don’t remember blushing this much before in my life. Fake it ’til you make it was my mantra. I stood a little taller and attempted to gain the confidence I typically displayed with chauvinistic surgeons.
“I’m Marcus.” His secret smile remained as he reached out to shake my hand. When I placed mine in his, he squeezed it firmly, and I thought I felt his thumb gently caress mine, but he pulled away before I could be sure.
“Nice to meet you.” The words came out a little shaky.
“So, what brings you out to play with us today?” His voice dropped suggestively.
Maintaining my barely-there confidence, I answered his question. “I’m curious about domination and submission. I figured this was the best place to gain some knowledge.”
“Knowledge about what?” Marcus asked, showing true interest.
Everything. I wanted to know what it felt like to give up control.
To just feel and not have to think.
To be dominated.
To have someone fulfill needs I didn’t even know I had.
I wanted to find my happily ever after, damn it. Sadly, I didn’t know how to express any of this.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Whatever someone will teach me.”
“Sweetness,” he murmured, “I’d be happy to teach you anything you want to know.”
LK Shaw is the bestselling author of the sexy, sinful suspense. She resides in South Carolina with her high maintenance beagle mix dog, Miss P. An avid reader since childhood, she became hooked on historical romance novels in high school. She now reads, and loves, all romance sub-genres, with dark romance and romantic suspense being her favorite. LK enjoys traveling and chocolate. Her books feature hot alpha heroes and the strong women they love.
Want a FREE short story? Be sure to sign up for her newsletter and download your copy of A Birthday Spanking, a short story set in the Doms of Club Eden world! http://bit.ly/LKShawNewsletter
Sea of Snakes
Publication date: January 26th 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Reverse Harem, Romance
Zeke, Skyler, Dom and Rake—they grew up on this island and are in charge of protecting its various interests. They’re used to being in control of everything here. Including the surf. I’ve been kidnapped by a dangerous man, and am being used as collateral while my father comes up with the funds to pay off his debt (sadly not the worst thing he’s ever done although it’s up there), and if he doesn’t come up with the cash soon I’ll be auctioned off to the highest bidder. In the meantime, these four men are tasked with keeping me in their control and protecting me, and they take their role very seriously.
But they’re not the only people to be concerned about. I’m tough in my own way. I can tell that they want all of me, to take me over like they do everything else. But five can play this game, and I’m not good at losing.
**This is a Dark Reverse Harem/Why Choose Romance. 18+. Warning: this book includes graphic violence and sex scenes, and references of abuse/assault that some readers may experience as triggering.
“It’s a protection job,” says the clipped voice. “We need you to hold her for us. She’s collateral for a debt.”
“What does that entail, exactly?”
“Like I said, we need you to hold her for us.” The voices pauses. “You can do whatever you like with her while she’s with you.”
“Oh, really?” Now he has my interest. “How long do we need to keep her for?” I wonder what the other guys are going to think of this.
“No more than ten days,” says the voice. “That’s how long our associate has to repay his debt.”
“How is this associate connected with this girl?” Skyler’s been teaching me to ask more questions rather than just accepting information at face value. I’m trying.
“You ask too many questions. But it’s her father.”
“How old is she? An adult, I am assuming? We’re not babysitters.”
“Yes, an adult. Not that it’s any of your business, but he crossed a contact back on the mainland and is here on what he believes to be a business trip. His debt has been on-sold to us, and he’s evidently having a little trouble accessing funds, as his primary asset source has been frozen.”
“I see.” I need to know more. There must be an end game to this. Tane wouldn’t ask us to help if he didn’t have a grand plan, or if he simply intends on disposing of her after the time is up. “And if he doesn’t repay it? What happens then?”
“She’ll be auctioned off to the highest bidder. And I have a feeling she’ll attract a high price. Maybe higher than the value of the debt. Even if the debt is repaid, we might reassess our next steps.” His tone is clinical.
Jesus, these guys are ruthless. We make sure to do just enough to stay on their good side, but we try to avoid getting involved with the human trafficking and hard drugs that they also control across the island chain.
“Oh, so she’s attractive?” He’s really piquing my interest here. Numerous buyers bidding on a woman. I wonder how someone determines the price to purchase a human.
This isn’t something we’ve done before, harboring a captive, and it’s definitely on the cusp of what we’re prepared to do.
I wonder what Zeke will have to say. Skyler is slightly more mellow than him, but they both tend to be overly cautious. Whereas I’m usually up for anything. And, well, Rake is up for anything involving a woman.
“You’ll see.” The voice on the other end lets out an icy chuckle, causing a shiver to creep up my back.
I have no doubt that Tane’s men are evil, just like him. I’m no angel myself, but my soul is just dark, whereas his simply doesn’t exist.
“Do you expect anyone to come looking for her?” I glance at my free hand again and crack my knuckles.
I wouldn’t mind an excuse to use my fists, maybe curry a little favor with our captive to give her reason to be grateful to me. Nothing like a damsel in distress who owes you their life.
“That’s for you to worry about,” says the voice. “But again, she’s yours to do with as you please while she’s with you. Just don’t do anything that will… lower her market value too much, if you catch my drift.”
“That leaves a lot of options.” I can’t help but grin.
The person at the other end of the phone directs me to stay tuned for further instructions, and then they click off the call.
It’s been a while since I’ve been around a woman. I tend to avoid them. Sure, I’ll have a little casual fun with a random woman every now and then. No strings attached, a one-time event where nobody catches feelings.
But that’s where I leave things. Because ultimately women are dangerous, and from my experience, they inflict nothing but pain.
(A Frazier Falls Small Town Novel, #1)
Publication date: December 5th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Her company is failing. His plan could save it. Will their partnership move from business to pleasure?
Carla “Carl” Stevenson takes a special joy in running the local timber mill. But when the economy takes a downturn, selling the family business may be her only heartbreaking option. After a prospective buyer takes an interest, she’s horrified by his plans to raze the Frazier forest to make room for cheap cattle farming. To protect her home, she reluctantly turns to the town’s most notorious player…
Owen Cooper can’t believe Carl’s mill is for sale. But the construction company owner is even more shocked that “Carl” is actually a beautiful woman. Moved by feelings he never saw coming, Owen drafts an ambitious plan to save the mill owner’s livelihood… and maybe even win her heart.
Rallying their community around the audacious idea, Owen and Carl find their fates delightfully intertwined. But both their chemistry and the project hang in the balance when he suddenly walks away…
With the whole town at stake, will Carl and Owen save the mill and find their way to true love?
Rescue Me is the heartwarming first novel in the Frazier Falls romance series. If you like strong women, honorable men, and small-town love, then you’ll adore Kelly Collins’ charming tale. Buy Rescue Me to build a foundation of passion today!
When I reached the mill, my heart sank. Only one car remained in the parking lot.
What were the odds the car belonged to one of the two people that could help me out? I had to try. Parking alongside the red Subaru, I swung myself out of my truck and made my way inside the building.
It was quiet. All production had ceased for the weekend. The silence gave the large, cold space an unsettling, almost eerie feel, like the set of a horror movie where the saws would buzz to life, and the clueless guest would disappear forever.
I didn’t know where I was going, but eventually I found a door marked ‘R&C Stevenson.’ I took that as a good omen that I’d found the offices of Rich and Carl.
After several calming breaths, I raised my hand. Once, twice, I knocked, and on the third try, the door flung open and revealed the most gorgeous woman I’d ever seen. All thoughts left me as I stared at her.
Her long chestnut hair was gathered high on her head. The flyaway strands framed her beautiful, heart-shaped face. Her eyes were hazel, and in the early evening light, the gold flecks in her irises appeared on fire. Though she was wearing a dirty pair of gray overalls, I imagined she had a killer figure with the way the material flowed over rounded hips.
I realized far too late that I’d been gawking at her. The flush of embarrassment heated my cheeks.
“Um, sorry, I … I was hoping to, um,” I coughed and sputtered.
She ran her eyes from my work boots to the cowlick on the top of my head. Her perusal was thorough and somewhat unsettling in a good way.
“What were you hoping for, Mr. Cooper?”
“I’m looking for … Wait, how do you know who I am?” Surely, I couldn’t have met her before. I would have remembered those eyes. They were half meadow and half sky with a sprinkling of sunshine throughout.
Her mouth quirked up in amusement. “I try to know what all of my clients look like, even if we haven’t met face to face.”
“I’m sorry. Who are you? I need to speak to Rich or Carl Stevenson.”
She laughed, and it was a ridiculously beautiful sound. “That would be me.” She pointed to herself. “Carl, not Rich. Well, Carla.” She offered her hand for a shake. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person, Owen.
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International bestselling author of more than thirty novels, Kelly Collins writes with the intention of keeping love alive. Always a romantic, she blends real-life events with her vivid imagination to create characters and stories that lovers of contemporary romance, new adult, and romantic suspense will return to again and again.
Kelly has sold more than a quarter of a million books worldwide, and in 2021 she was awarded a Readers’ Favorite Award Gold Medal in the Contemporary Romance category for A Tablespoon of Temptation.
You can learn more about Kelly at http://www.authorkellycollins.com.
Perhaps you’ve tried to make new year’s resolutions in the past, but for some reason, you’ve never been able to stick to them. In 2023, you can finally fulfill your resolutions by setting gradual, realistic goals. For example, if you’d like to read more books, you can commit to reading ten pages each day and create a reading list by checking out Book Reviews by the Reluctant Retiree! Here are a few other habits you could adopt this year, from keeping a cleaner home to waking up earlier.
Keep Your Home Clean
It’s hard to feel your best in a cluttered, messy home. If it’s been a while since you decluttered and deep cleaned your home, the new year gives you the perfect opportunity! You’ll want to start by donating or throwing out any items you no longer need. Next, block off a weekend to thoroughly deep clean each room. Finally, spruce up your space by getting some houseplants and keeping your blinds open to let in more natural light.
Maybe it’s been a while since you read a book, but you miss the feeling of getting lost in a great story. Reading brings lots of benefits – for example, Everyday Health states that reading can lower your stress levels, deepens your empathy for others, and even boosts your cognitive function.
You don’t have to force yourself to read through a stack of classic novels to get back into reading. Instead, choose a couple of books you think you might enjoy, and block off time to read a reasonable number of pages each day. You could choose to read with your morning coffee or before you go to bed.
Lots of people make fitness-related resolutions each year. But if you try to rapidly shift from a sedentary lifestyle to working out every day, you’re likely to give up early or even injure yourself by exercising too intensely right off the bat. Try adding two to three workout sessions per week to your schedule, and consider connecting with a personal trainer who can help you design an exercise routine around your abilities and goals.
Wake Up Earlier
Do you have a tendency to sleep in? Maybe you’d like to start waking up earlier this year so that you’ll have plenty of time for a morning routine before your workday begins. Even if you’ve always considered yourself a night owl, you can slowly shift your usual wake-up time. Sleep Advisor recommends ensuring that you’re going to bed early enough to get between seven and nine hours of sleep, ditching alcohol and caffeine in the late afternoon and evening, placing your alarm clock far away from your bed, and tucking your phone in a drawer before bedtime so that you don’t end up scrolling late at night.
Drink More Water
Many people don’t even realize that they are chronically dehydrated. If you suspect that you’re not as hydrated as you should be, you could make a resolution to drink more water this year. To accomplish this, try getting a large reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout the day and putting a glass of water by your bedside before you go to sleep so that you can focus on hydration as soon as you wake up.
When it comes to new year’s resolutions, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Instead of setting huge, ambitious goals, you can pick up some simple habits that can significantly improve your quality of life. Whether you want to read more books, cultivate a cleaner home, or start exercising, these tips have got you covered!
Looking for your next favorite book? Turn to Book Reviews by the Reluctant Retiree! Browse the blog today to find exciting new reads.
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Guest Post by Jason KennerJason Kenner, On-Par Parent
Diana A. Hicks
(Raven Duet, #1)
Publication date: June 21st 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance
”This book completely destroyed me in all the best ways! I can’t wait for more” – Amazon Reviewer
I wanted her since the moment I saw her.
I didn’t even care she’d been promised to someone else.
Then we kissed, and I realized I was her first.
A Note from Diana: The Duet is now Complete. Binge Read Today! Fallen Raven is book one in the Raven Duet, which is a standalone romance in the Crime Society World featuring Don Enzo Alfera and Aurora Vitali. This star-crossed lovers romance is about never letting go. Check TW
“You’ve never been kissed before, have you?”
Technically, I’d never been touched before. I’d never had anyone look at me like this before, let alone kiss me.
“What’s it to you?”
He furrowed his brows and dropped his hands to his sides. He watched me with curiosity as I brought my arms around my belly. Tears stung my eyes because I knew he’d say something cruel again. I knew I was going to have to deal with the fallout come Monday morning. I made to leave, but he blocked me, caging me in again.
“Let me show you how.”
What? As in, teach me? “Why?”
“Because I want to.”
He wanted to kiss me? Or teach me? “Why?”
“Tell me to go to hell.” He unraveled my arms from around my body and brought my palm to his face. “Say the words. Enzo. Go. To. Hell.” He enunciated every word.
The raspy quality of his voice was so sexy and hypnotizing; I wasn’t going anywhere.
“What happens if I do?” I moved my fingers ever so slightly. I was afraid if I did more, he’d shut me out again like before.
“Then you’re free to go.”
Diana A. Hicks is an award-winning author of steamy romantic suspense and science-fiction romance.
When Diana is not writing, she enjoys hot yoga, kickboxing, traveling, and indulging in the simple joys of life like wine and chocolate. She lives in Atlanta and loves spending time with her two children and husband. Connect with Diana on social media to stay up to date on her latest releases.