A TOUCH OF GOLD Cover Reveal

I’m so excited to show you the cover for A Touch of Gold! A few months ago, I signed a four-book deal with Kobo Originals. The team at Kobo is passionate about books, and working with them has been a dream come true. I know that’s cliche, but truly—it’s been everything I hoped it’d be, and more. I’m now able to focus more on writing (and healing, but that’s another blog post), and I already see so much growth in my craft!

I’m the type of writer who is never short on ideas, just energy, so having the team at Kobo handle all the details while I do my thing… utterly glorious. They cooked up this cover with Ukrainian designers MIBLART, incorporating flowers with illustration, and using the colors from Goldie’s tattoo shop in the book! I love the way the gold lettering pops against the rich purples and greens. Check it out!

A Touch of Gold
Stagwood Falls: Love In Ink Series, Book 1

Everything Goldie touches turns to gold, so when the building that’s been in her family for generations is in trouble, her family calls on her to help save it. Moving back to her hometown and back in with her family comes with definite perks—like no more rent—and emotional baggage in the form of Goldie’s high school crush turned hottie David. When she sees him again, all those old feelings come rushing back—and are quickly dampened when she finds out he wants to tear down her building to build a “better” Main Street.

For as long as David can remember, Stagwood Falls has been a small-town summer vacation hotspot. It’s the kind of town that will charm the socks off of anyone who decides to drive through no matter the season, and it’s his job to make sure Stagwood Falls stands out on the map all year around. All he needs to do is convince the townspeople to get on board, even if it means making some sacrifices. When Goldie returns to Stagwood Falls, David is immediately drawn to her just as he was back in high school. This time around, he’ll do whatever it takes to get her attention. What David doesn’t expect is for Goldie to be so opposed to his new revitalization strategy that she’s hellbent on throwing a massive wrench in his plan.

Available May 30th


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How to Post Book Reviews to Apple Books

Welcome to my ARC team! Whether you’re on a tight book budget or want to be more involved with my releases, I’m so happy to have you.

One of the retailers I’d really love more reviews on is Apple Books.

Looking to join my ARC team? Join my email list to be the first to know when more spots open up! Click here.

Apple Books is a little tricky. You have to have some kind of Apple device to use the app. Somehow I’d forgotten this little hurdle, so color me surprised when I went to put together this post!

If you don’t have an Apple device, that’s totally okay. I really appreciate your Amazon, Nook, BookBub, and other reviews!

If you do have an iPhone, MacBook, or some other Apple device, here’s how to post your review.

  1. Create your Apple Books account. Here are step by step instructions from the source: Apple!
  2. Download the Apple Books app. You can find it in the App Store or on their website.
  3. Search for “Elizabeth Barone” and/or the title of my book that you’d like to review.
  4. Rate the book and/or write a short review telling other readers what you liked and didn’t like about the book.

By the way, if you’re an Apple user and on my ARC team, please let me know! I’ve got Apple Books codes for all of my books, meaning you won’t have to use BookFunnel or otherwise sideload my books to read and review them. Email me at ARCteam@elizabethbaronebooks.com

My current goal is to reach at least 15 reviews for each book. Thank you so much for your help!

If you have any questions, send me an email at ARCteam@elizabethbaronebooks.com

River Reapers MC Halloween Special: Part II

We’re seen as bad and dirty because we prefer another way of life. We live for freedom and family, and not the cultish, biblical, nationalist bullshit so many people spout. It’s about the freedom of the road in front of you and the one at your back. It’s about the freedom to ride as a woman alongside men, as equals. They don’t like that I’m not a possession. They don’t like that I wear what I want and fuck who I want, just like my brothers do.

While you wait for the next book in the River Reapers MC series, here’s a special treat. This spooky short story can be read as a standalone whether you’re new to the MC or a longtime member (trigger- and spoiler-free)!


I’ve got one hour to get rid of a rat and get into costume, and my bike won’t start.

It’s my fault. I put it off too long. It’s just that this rat is my brother, someone like family even though I barely know him; being away for so long stripped me of that privilege. If we let him live, he’ll just cause more problems. It’d be stupid to let him hang around. One rat could bring down our entire club.

I’m not going anywhere if I can’t get my bike started, though. And if I’m late to this party, nothing will make it up to Olivia. She’s stressed the fuck out, scared that she’ll fail Shannon and Ravage. My job is to wear the dumb costume and host by her side, pretending we’re the cool couple who opens up our home to a town that doesn’t trust us on a good day. Shannon’s Haven is one of the positive things our club does that people actually see, and it’s what keeps the town from driving us out. It’s what keeps the police from raiding us. Because of all the people Shannon saves, we’re untouchable.

Another motorcycle pulls into the gas station, and I exhale in relief when I recognize the rider.

“You good, brother?” Donny calls out as he swings off his bike.

“Won’t start.” I throw up my hands. “Battery’s good and I just filled the fucking tank. I’m late,” I add.

“You take care of Ravage’s rat problem?” he asks, inspecting the bike.

“Not yet.”

“Better get on that.” He flips the kill switch back to off. “There ya go. Must’ve bumped it.”

I whistle. “I’m a fucking wreck.”

“If this is you on Halloween, I gotta see what you’ll be like on your wedding day.”

I look away. “It’ll never happen, brother.”

“Oh, I got a good feeling it will.” He claps me on the shoulder. “As long as you take care of that rat.”

“Why’s it gotta be me?” I ask him. “That’s usually your department.”

He chuckles. “Not in this case. That fucker’s chewed through everything in the dry storage, and he’s evaded all my traps.” His dark eyes meet mine. “Mercy said he heard you made friends with the rats in Lewisburg seg.” He holds a straight face for a moment, then busts out laughing.

“Fuck you,” I say, but I laugh too, only for a second. “It just seems cruel, to kill a guy who’s just trying to eat.”

“That guy bites one of the kids tonight, you’ll be singing a different tune.”

“My buddy doesn’t bite. I’ve hand-fed him cheese, for fuck’s sake.”

“That’s exactly why you gotta be the one to take him out. Fucker don’t trust no one else.” He pats me on the back again. “Clock’s ticking.” Turning, he goes into the gas station.

I ride over to the Mermaid and slip in among the chaos of a dozen club girls setting up. From somewhere I hear Pru delegating Olivia’s orders, and I grin with pride. Despite what Olivia thinks, my girl is running this; Shannon will be more than proud when she and Ravage walk in tonight, fresh from their mini getaway.

I close myself in the storage room, flipping on the light and standing still. A few seconds of silence pass, then I hear the telltale squeaking. A fat rat streaks out from the shadows, standing on his hind legs, nose sniffing the air.

This rat does not have any disease. He’s the cutest, friendliest little dude I’ve ever met. Maybe that makes me dirty and weird, the guy who makes friends with the lowest of the low. But it wasn’t that long ago that guys like him and me were equals, scraping by with whatever crumbs we could find, hiding in the shadows and biding our time. If I could, I’d take him home with me, but I’m pretty sure my landlord wouldn’t see him as a pet.

“Hey, buddy.” I hold out a hunk of cheese in my hand and, like usual, he comes right up to me. While he nibbles away, I scoop him into a rescue box and secure him. He scrabbles around inside, his squeaks accusing. “I know it, man.”

Swinging open the door, I pass him to the wildlife removal agent that I had meet me here. He’s a friend of Mark’s, so this’ll never get back to OSHA.

“I’m so sorry,” I tell the rat.

“Oh, don’t worry,” the agent tells me. “We relocate all our catches, unless there’s a reason not to.”

He carries the box to his van and I wish the little guy good luck. Then I go change, before I’m really late.


I stand in the guest bedroom, staring into the framed mirror leaning against the wall. Even this spare room has Shannon all over it, cozy and dreamy with just the right touch of gloom. I’m so out of place in this costume.

I should’ve added this to the list. I don’t know what Lucy was thinking, giving us these relics from her years with her baby daddy. She probably thought it was hilarious, and normally I would, too, but tonight’s not the night. We’re trying to show the town we are the good guys, even if our methods are a little—okay, a lot—questionable. This just feels like we’re rubbing it all in everyone’s faces.

The whole town knows what Cliff did. It’s why our business slowed when he got out—and our clientele is always down for a drink and lap dance. It’s why people give us dirty looks when they see us in public. The benefit rides we do every month help, but only so much. That’s why the Halloween bash is so important. It’s a yearly way for us to change how the town sees us. They can’t hate the club that shelters half the town’s women when their own men drink too much.

People hate us because we’re up front about who we are; all of us have committed crimes. The only difference is, none of our men have ever beaten a woman. The only woman we’ve ever touched was Esther’s mother, and she had it coming. We’re seen as bad and dirty because we prefer another way of life. We live for freedom and family, and not the cultish, biblical, nationalist bullshit so many people spout. It’s about the freedom of the road in front of you and the one at your back. It’s about the freedom to ride as a woman alongside men, as equals. They don’t like that I’m not a possession. They don’t like that I wear what I want and fuck who I want, just like my brothers do.

And they definitely don’t like what Cliff did to his own father.

They didn’t like what Bastard was doing to Lucy, either, but every one of them looked the other way.

Taking a deep breath, I smooth my sexy police uniform. At least the handcuffs will be fun, later—if Cliff actually shows up.

He’s vowed never to wear orange again, and I’d hope that means not even for me—on Halloween or any other circumstances. He’ll probably just come in his standard hoodie and T-shirt, proudly wearing his cut over all of it. Even though I don’t blame him, I’m a little bummed that we won’t be in matching costumes. I know it’s one of those dumb, sickeningly cute things that dumb, sickeningly stupid people do, but just for once I want to be those people so deliriously in love, they dress up together. We have so few normal things. I’ll never admit it out loud, but I secretly enjoy when we do them.

“Let it go,” I tell myself. “It ain’t happening.”

I slip on my thigh-high boots just as the doorbell rings. I hear Esther open the front door below, letting in the first wave of ticket holders. Their gasps of delight at the fog machine and spooky music drift up to me, and I smile. If nothing else, I did a damn good job of arranging all of Ravage’s Halloween decorations. It’s not what it usually looks like, but that’s because I’m not Shannon. I’m me.

And I did it my way.

Joining everyone downstairs, I realize I am a little worried Cliff didn’t show. It’s not like him, and the last time he disappeared, I let Stixx set a building on fire when we found him. I get a little crazy when my baby’s in trouble. He, on the other hand, becomes totally unhinged if anyone even breathes wrong in my direction. I’ve seen him go from sweet and sensitive to protectively violent in zero seconds flat. I’ve never seen him blow me off. Even when we were broken up, he showed up for me.

I’m torn between concern and scorn when the door opens and he steps inside, his face blank while I take in what he’s wearing. He’s dressed in an orange jumpsuit, with “inmate” stamped across his back. With his long black hair down and the scar on his face, I can see the angry, lonely man he must’ve been when he was inside. He had every right to be. It destroys me a little every time I think about him ever being unloved and secluded, this sweet man who’s helped me shower when I was too shellshocked to move, and cuddles our tiny niece while singing to her—after changing her diaper, and no one even asked.

I’m supposed to say something, to lighten the moment somehow, but I’m struck speechless by how much it must’ve taken him to put on his “costume.” Even if he doesn’t talk about it, I know that being in prison for two decades did a number on him. He pretends he’s okay just so that Lucy, I, and everyone else don’t worry about him. I also know when he doesn’t sleep at night because he’s dreaming of Lewisburg again.

So I don’t crack a joke. I just close the distance between us, throw my arms around his neck, and pour everything I’m feeling into the kiss I breathe into his lips. “Thank you,” I whisper in his ear. “You didn’t have to do this.”

His palms cup my ass. “You have handcuffs,” he says with a grin, appreciating my sexy cop costume. “I definitely had to do this.”

“Get a room,” Esther says with a wink. A second later, Donny grabs her ass, and it looks like a pair of Converses are making out, because each of them is wearing a giant shoe.

The girls—vampire Cierra, witchy Abril, and the cutest ghost ever, Ximena—pretend to be disgusted, but they wear matching smiles. It’s so good to see them happy.

Lucy and Stixx shuffle in, with Bunny in the costume I ordered her months ago. I told them they had to match her, and holy shit, they actually did it. She’s wearing tiny boxing gloves and a matching red headband and shorts, with a white onesie. A spot of red still stains one of her legs. Stixx is dressed as her coach, and Lucy is a ring girl.

“I didn’t think you’d actually go for it!” I laugh. “I fucking love you guys.”

No one else in our club is sharing a theme. Beer Can is a dwarf from Lord of the Rings. Mark has a pair of vampire fangs in one of his pockets. Skid is dressed as one of the Men in Black. Vaughn and Cami came separately, but they’re both Boba Fett. Abraham must’ve lost a bet with Vaughn, because he’s wearing a rainbow tutu and a scowl.

Bree and Mercy come late, but their cheeks are flushed and she’s wearing the same witch costume she’s been rocking since I was a kid. Occasionally he steals her hat and pretends he’s her wizard.

Dozens of people come through the house, and between the ticket sales and baskets raffle, I’m pretty sure we’ve made at least what Shannon pulls in every year. I sneak into the kitchen for a celebratory drink, finally feeling like I can let loose.

The back door opens and Shannon steps inside. “Honey, we’re home.” She engulfs me in a hug, her witch costume almost identical to my mom’s.

They’re so similar, yet one stayed and the other left. “Thank you for doing this.”

“Any time. Did you have fun?”

“Yes,” she says, her eyes misting a little. “It was good to spend some time together. I missed him, crazy as that sounds.”

“I know what you mean,” I say, peering through the passthrough at all of my family together.

Ravage steps in through the back door, and I hug him hello. His face is painted as a skull.

“Seriously?” I tease. “How’s this any different from every other day? You did a good job, though.”

“You did good, kid,” he says, one arm still around me. “I knew everything would be safe in your hands. Both of your hands,” he adds as Cliff ducks into the kitchen.

Ravage steps away and Cliff’s arms take his place. It’s almost as if I’ve been passed from father to groom. Ravage and Shannon stand arm in arm, smiling over at us. A dreadful sort of deja vu locks my limbs for a moment, and then the Halloween playlist changes tracks and the ghoulish laughter grounds me in the moment. I have the whole night to look forward to, hours in Cliff’s arms, surrounded by the kids’ laughter and the wash of voices as everyone talks at once. I lean back into him, content.

I ignore the way everyone is looking back at me, because if I look too closely, I’d realize none of this is real.

The End

More books in the River Reapers MC are coming…

Get updates about the next book in the series, the Lucy/Stixx novella Burning for Stixx. You’ll also get the Her Mercy novella for free! Click here to sign up (no strings attached).

Catch Up

Book 1 | Book 2 | Novella | Book 3

She’s a criminal when it comes to sex

The following is a NSFW excerpt from A Disturbing Prospect.


“Hold on,” she says, glancing up and down the street. There’s a dangerous look in her eyes, one that simultaneously draws me in and makes me pause. This woman might look harmless, but she’s a criminal when it comes to sex. She grabs my hand and tugs me forward, trying car doors as we walk.

She’s dead serious.

“Olivia, what the fuck are you doing?” I mutter. “I’m on parole. You know that, right?”

She tosses me a challenging look. “Is your probation officer here right now?”

“No, but—”

“Relax,” she says, pulling the door of a station wagon open. “We’re not technically breaking in if it isn’t locked.”

There are so many technicalities wrapped up in this night.

She climbs into the back seat, shedding clothing. “It’s roomy in here,” she purrs, beckoning me inside.

With one more glance at the street, I climb in after her, shutting the door behind me.

Our breath steams up the windows. She peels off garments, flinging them onto the passenger seat. Within seconds, she’s naked.

“Your turn.”

So much for savoring this.

I yank off my jeans, shirt, and coat. My cock stands at full attention. Olivia regards me with an amused expression on her face. Heat flushes my cheeks. “What?”

“You were commando?” she asks, crawling into my lap.

I laugh. “I ran out before, and didn’t get a chance to change after we did laundry.”

Olivia smiles back. A wisp of hair falls into her eyes. I brush it back gently, my eyes roving over her face. Suddenly we’re shy teenagers who thought they were ready but don’t really know what to do next.

My hands drop to her hips, fingers caressing the soft flesh. “You really want this?”

She nods. Her arms encircle my neck, those eyes locked on mine. It could be a trick of the light, but she looks truly happy. Maybe she’s one of those people who really, really like sex. Whatever the reason, I’m honored to be the one to make her feel good—in multiple ways.

Soft lips tug at mine, her tongue flitting across my bottom lip. She sucks me between her teeth while her hands trail to my shoulders. The heat radiating from her warm center is so inviting.

My tongue plunges into her mouth, a growl escaping my lips. I should be gentle with her, but I don’t want to. I want to consume her until I’m completely intoxicated, neither of us able to walk.

Her legs wrap around my waist, her hips thrusting her soft wetness against me. Fingers from one hand pluck at my nipples, while her other hand wraps around me.

In just a few seconds, I’m going to throw back the bars of the cage. “One more time,” I growl into her mouth. “Do you really want this?”

She rubs the head of me against her slit in response.

Her slick wetness makes me come completely undone. In one motion, I twist our bodies until she’s flat on her back. Her legs wrap around me, and I lower myself until I’m throbbing at her entrance. Olivia gives me a final nod, and I slide in.

Her warmth envelopes me, and I almost come halfway through my first thrust. “I’m not going to last long,” I choke out.

“Shh,” she soothes into my ear. “It’s okay. Just give me all you’ve got, baby.” Her arms lock around my neck and she clings to me with her whole body. I sheath myself in her, embedded deep inside.

Slowly, I slide out, until just the tip of me is in her. I caress the side of her breast and each rib with my fingers as I make my way down to her. I want this to be just as good for her as it is for me.

Stroking her with my fingers, I plunge into her again with slow precision. With each thrust, I get more into a rhythm, two knuckles grinding against her. She shivers underneath me, tiny moans tumbling from her lips. Hard nipples rub against my chest, a complete parallel to her soft breasts pressed to my pecs. Our hearts pound against each other, blood boiling, edging us closer and closer.

My cock surges, the fire of the orgasm blowing through me.

“Fuck,” I growl into her ear. “No.”

She gasps, shouting out. “Just fuck me,” she pants, and I do. I plow into her, rubbing her, begging her. This will all be for nothing if I can’t take her with me.

Olivia arches into me, her back coming straight off the floor. A moan ripples through the station wagon, her nails raking down my back. “Yes, baby, yes,” she breathes as she shivers against me.

The last twenty years rush out of me, pulsing into her. I feel her tighten and expand around me, driving us both into the abyss.

It’s the best I’ve ever had.

I collapse, rolling to the side so I don’t crush her. A stream of hot liquid gushes down my thigh. Resting on my back, I stare at the ceiling, my breath ragged. Beside me, she exhales and turns onto her side.

“Wow,” she says, grinning. “Thank you.” She dips her chin. Our eyes meet for a second, then she reaches into the front seat for her cigarettes. The flash of bare skin exposes a twin stream running down her leg.

My heart just about stops.

“Fuck,” I say, scrambling to sit up. “We need to get to a store. We didn’t—I mean, I didn’t—”

She glances over her shoulder. Now she really does look amused. “Relax,” she says, handing me a cigarette. “I’m on the pill.”

I fall back, relief rushing through me. I smoke in silence, and decide I’ve had enough thrills in one night to last me a lifetime. From here on out, I’m keeping my head down and playing it straight.

This can never, ever happen again.

A Disturbing Prospect

Whose secret is more disturbing, his or hers?


Someone’s slashed my tires less than a week after I screwed ex-con Cliff back into society. I knew it was a bad idea, but with his dark hair, gentle eyes, and disturbing secrets, I was dying to unlock him. As much as I don’t want to believe it was him, he’s a killer, so what’s a little stalking? With a whole biker club at my back, normally all I’d have to do is say the word, but he just became their latest Prospect.

I’ll just have to handle it myself.


After two decades in prison, I might as well be on another planet. Everything is different now, including me. I’ve fallen for the first woman I met, and I’ll do anything to prove to her that I’ve changed, too. There aren’t many prospects for a felon, so I have no choice but to take the first job I’m offered. Becoming a Prospect for my father’s MC comes with all kinds of strings, especially since I’m the one who killed him.

And now, thanks to Olivia, I’ve got one more body to bury.

A Disturbing Prospect is the first book in the River Reapers MC series, a dark romance with a body count. Some content may be disturbing to some readers.

Available everywhere books are sold!

Amazon · Apple Books · Eden Books · Google Play
Kobo · Nook · Walmart · Target · More

River Reapers MC Halloween Special: Part I

While you wait for the next book in the River Reapers MC series, here’s a special treat. This spooky short story can be read as a standalone whether you’re new to the MC or a longtime member (trigger- and spoiler-free)!

Before You Read…

Guess everyone’s costumes! Just save the image, then draw to match each character to a costume. Then tag me on Instagram with your guesses!

Part I


“We’re throwing a Halloween party, and Olivia’s organizing,” Ravage, the President of the River Reapers MC says, casting me the quickest of glances. “We’ve also got a bit of a rat problem—”

“Back up a sec.” He’s not getting off that easy. It’s bad enough I have to clean up after their drunk asses as their bartender. It’s bad enough they pranked the shit out of me as their Prospect. These pains in my ass want me to plan their Halloween bash? The one that requires tickets, because so many people come, from all over?

“It’s not a big deal.” Ravage leans back in his chair at the head of the table, stretching lazily like he didn’t just hand me his baby.

This is the party. He and Shannon host a haunted house at their place every year, with music, food, and booze back at The Wet Mermaid, the MC’s strip club. It goes well into two in the morning, sometimes later, depending on how the police department feels about us at the time. All the proceeds from the ticket sales and raffles go to Shannon’s Haven, a shelter for survivors of rape and domestic violence. This is the fundraiser that sponsors everything Shannon does for another year. And Ravage is just giving it to me?

I’m one of Shannon’s strays, in a way. I washed up here every time my mother Bree disappeared, because before DCF got their hands on me, I belonged to the club. They were my family. Because of Ravage’s record, they weren’t allowed to foster or adopt me, so I was ripped from their leather-clad arms and placed with even worse people. As soon as I turned eighteen, I came back to the Mermaid for a job, and I’ve been family again ever since.

Now I’m one of the River Reapers, for real. Me—the little girl without a family. Now I’ve got more family than I can handle. Just like a standard suburban family, they drive me crazy.

I’d do anything for them, anyway.

“Is this one of those things where you surprise me with a little responsibility now because later you’re gonna drop the whole thing in my lap?” I slide a smirk over to Cliff. He knows exactly what I’m talking about, even if neither of us knows exactly where our complicated relationship stands.

“Sure seems like it,” Cliff agrees.

That’s just how Ravage rolls. He has his secret, all-knowing, father-knows-best agenda, and nine times out of ten, the fucker’s right. That’s what makes it infuriating. He knows what the ten of us sitting with him at this table are capable of before we even do. I always think he’s insane, and he always proves me wrong. Like the time he taught seven-year-old me how to shoot a gun. Way fucked up, but it saved my life later.

I know he loves me like I was his own daughter, but sometimes it’s so creepy, the way he just knows things. I bet the fucker even knows when he’s gonna die, and everything he’s doing is just to prepare us for that day.

Which is why I narrow my eyes at him.

“You love Halloween, and there’s no way Shannon just agreed to put all of her funding in my hands.”

“Actually, it was her idea.” His ice blue eyes are firm. “She wants to go away for a few days, and I want you to run everything so smoothly, she doesn’t feel guilty.”

In that case, I can do this. Shannon’s been like a mother to me over the years, in ways I never even realized. The least I can do is take over so she can take a break.

“Then I only have one question,” I say, lifting my chin.


“Can we still do the haunted house at your place?”


I stretch fake spider webbing across the front bushes, my memories as real as the October chill in the air. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed around the club. My mother made sure that I was kept in the dark. Halloween was the only exception, and that was only because Bastard took me to the haunted house and straight back home. I gotta give Ruth props, because I had no fucking clue my old man was the President of a biker club. He came home for dinner every night just like all my friends’ dads. Until I found Ruth in the tub, I had no idea we weren’t like every other family.

A lot of the time, I’m angry. I try to hide it, but it comes out anyway. I’m Frankenstein, a big dumb brute barely holding it together.

I stick the little plastic spiders into place, envisioning the yard lit up by strobe lights like it used to be. This is the house that goes overboard every year, the house everyone wants to see. Shannon’s decor is already dreamy boho goth, so all it needs on the inside is a few fake spiderwebs and some mood music. Halloween is when it’s cool to show off the animal skulls she collects.

Olivia pokes her head out the front door. “You almost done with that? I’ve got another job for you.”

“All done.”

She steps onto the porch and I join her, wrapping an arm around her to keep away the chill. For a brief moment, her warmth seeps into me, and I close my eyes. Peace is so fleeting for us. Even before we met, our lives were a mess of chaos and hurt. She’s the home I’ve been aching for, but she has yet to invite me in. Not all the way, anyway. After all she’s been through, she guards her heart, and I can’t blame her. It’s my job to prove to her that she can trust me, time after time.

“What do you need?” I kiss the top of her head, breathing her in. Just her nearness sets my senses on fire, my hands longing to touch her.

But she pulls away, stopping me with a serious face. “I need you to get our costumes.”

I blink. “Costumes?”

“We’re the hosts. We have to dress up.”

“I’d rather get us undressed.” I settle my hands on her hips, drawing her back in.

“Yeah well, no one’s getting any ’til I’ve outdone every party Ravage and Shannon have ever thrown.”

“Tall order.” I stroke her cheek. “You’re doing great, you know.”

“I’ll do even better if you get us some cool matching costumes.”

I chuckle. “The day before Halloween? No problem.”

“That’s the spirit.” She unties her nest of curls and shakes them out, wafting the warm, slightly spicy scent of her shampoo my way.

“Anything I should avoid?”

She drops her hair, smirking. “Hmm. No bikers.”

I laugh. “Can’t make it easy for me, huh?”

“No photographers.”

“Is that even a costume?”

“Definitely no rockstars.”

I sober. She’s listing all the real-life monsters we’ve buried. “Probably no football players, then.”

“Definitely not. I’ll wear anything else. I’ll even go as a half-naked maid.”

“You promise?” I’m not usually a fantasy guy, but the thought of Olivia half naked in any form gets me instantly hard.

She gives my ass a swat. “Only if you go get those costumes.”

“I’m on it.”

Before I go, I pull her in for a kiss. I don’t give a fuck how much a hurry she’s in. Every moment could be our last. Too many people want us dead. There’s always time for kisses.

“Be safe,” she murmurs just as our lips touch. I nuzzle across hers, savoring the slow sweet burn. Darting my tongue against her lower lip, I tease her open. The inside of her mouth is hot and sweet, and the glide of our tongues is too quick. I capture her face in my hands for just a moment longer, feel her body slow and melt into me, tell her I love her with my tongue instead of the words she won’t let me speak.

Then, just as she surrenders, I break away with a wink.

“No one’s getting lucky ’til I get costumes,” I remind her. Her eyes flash, her face so comically disappointed, I chuckle. I kiss her hand, then hop off the porch. Just before I turn the engine of my motorcycle, I hear her mutter a single word.



Every single store is sold out of costumes. I knew it’d be slim pickings, but they’re all cleaned out. There’s no time to order anything, either, so I’m screwed. I might as well not even go back to the house, not empty-handed.

There’s only one person who might be able to help me with this. Before I can call her, my phone buzzes with an incoming text.

<< Ravage: Don’t forget to take care of our rat problem. >>

Fuck. I tip my head back. I didn’t forget—no way I could. I just wish I didn’t have to be the one to handle it.

<< Ravage: I mean it. There’s a rat in the clubhouse and I’m counting on you to get rid of him, son. This could earn you a new patch. >>

This is exactly “one of those things” Olivia was talking about in Church. Sometimes Ravage drops little jobs on us, all while making this face like he knows something the rest of us don’t. He’s never had me do anything like this, though.

But he left this to me, right after putting Olivia on party duty, and if I want to stay in this club, I better make it happen. It’ll never leave the table. It won’t violate my parole. It shouldn’t bother me. But it’s brutal and cold, and despite the time I did in max, it’s not my style.

<< Ravage: Take care of it before the party tomorrow night. >>

Every kill is a stain on my soul, a soul I wasn’t even sure I possessed until I met Olivia. When I stood outside that motel and she offered me a cigarette, she lit up the parts of me that were dark for two decades, maybe longer. I want to give her a good, clean life, but there’s no such thing in this life we lead.

If nothing else, I can at least give her a costume.

I call my cousin Lucy. I’m ten years older than her but she’s the one always saving my ass. She picks up right away.

“You must be psychic,” she says, breathless.

My pitch for last-minute help dies on my lips. “Huh?”

“I need you to get over here, right now.”

I don’t think. I don’t ask questions. I just go.


I fall back onto Shannon’s chaise lounge, enveloped by the emerald velvet and pile of throw pillows. The house is decorated, her cats are fed, and everything at Shannon’s Haven is running right on schedule. Tomorrow there’ll be late-afternoon trick-or-treating for the kids, then the haunted house will kick off the party over at the Mermaid.

Esther tosses the last goody bag into the box and stretches out on the floor. “You did it, girl.”

“Thanks to you.” No way I could’ve put together two dozen goody bags and care packages, while decorating and making sure the menu’s all set. Not by myself. I’m never alone, though, not with Esther. She comes with an army of little sisters eager to help, because even teenagers love free candy.

“Any time. I’m really excited about this party. I always heard about it, but thought it’d be all bad stuff, like drugs and violence.”

“That’s the afterparty,” I say, kidding. Biker family parties are just like any other family gathering. There’s booze and weed, of course, but no one would even think of lighting up in front of the little ones. The liquor is kept out of reach and the party stays family-friendly ’til the babies are all in bed.

I missed a lot of Halloweens after I went into the system, but I remember slow dancing on a slightly drunk Beer Can’s feet, eating plates of food made by Mark’s flavor of the week, and going home with my own care package for Bree. In each box, there’s a new set of clothes for each mother and child, plus all the fixings for a spaghetti night, and some necessities like deodorant and toothpaste. This year, I had Esther add one more thing: a fall wreath made by her little sisters. Bree and I never had decorations. I figure the wreaths will brighten up everyone’s doors, even if only a little.

Esther’s fourteen-year-old sister, Cierra, unplugs the hot glue gun she’s been in charge of for the past few hours. “Can we go to the movies now?”

“You good here?” Esther asks me.

I nod, too tired to speak.

“All right, we’re out, then.” She collects Cierra, Abril, and little Ximena, and then the house is silent.

The quiet hits me hard. Somewhere, a grandfather clock ticks, but other than that, there isn’t a sound. With Esther and the girls gone and nothing left to do, I’m trapped by all of my insecurities. Esther says Shannon would be proud, but I can’t help but feel like I’ll never measure up. Shannon gives without even a second thought. She makes so many lives better, never once complaining. I don’t know how she does it without collapsing. If anyone deserves a to get away, it’s her. I picture her and Ravage strolling down the Maine beach, and smile.

My smile drops when I think of the way Ravage looked at me. He had that gleam in his eye, that calculating one that tells me someday I’ll be running Shannon’s Haven, whether I think I’ve got it in me or not. His faith in me scares me more than anything else, because I can’t bear the thought of letting down the two people who’ve looked out for me my whole life every time Bree couldn’t. Shannon gave me a job as a bartender when I wasn’t even old enough to drink or confident enough to hold a man’s stare. She taught me how to be boldly me, just by showing me how to mix drinks I’d never heard of and banter with customers I’d never met.

Ravage is always saying things like “This club is your birthright,” because Cliff and I are second generation; we were supposed to be River Reapers but then we got taken away by two sides of the same system. I owe Ravage and Shannon everything, but I’ve always had my own plans, and I don’t know how those fit into who they want me to be.

After coming up in the system, I swore I’d become the kind of social worker I needed as a kid. I can’t take care of my clients and run Shannon’s Haven at the same time. If that’s truly what Ravage wants, I’ll let someone down no matter which way I go.

I’m good at my job, even if I break the rules at times; I’m good at my job because I’m willing to bend them. The one time I asked for help, my social worker was too busy to do even the bare minimum for me. The system needs people like me, foster kid alumni who wanna be the change or whatever. No one else cares enough.

But no one else cares enough about rape and domestic violence survivors, either. It’s the broken people who save other broken people. The problem is, I can’t save everyone, no matter how hard I try.

“It’s me,” Cliff calls as he steps inside.

I sit up, letting my worries fall away for a moment. Just hearing his voice eases the tension in me. Cliff is a constant reminder that I am enough. I know he loves me, even if it terrifies me to hear him say it. Hopefully he knows how I feel about him.

He bends to kiss me hello, and I rise onto my knees, stretching out the kiss. When he breaks away, I sigh happily.

“Did you get the costumes?” I ask, peeking at the big paper bag he holds in one hand.

It’s then that I notice the blood staining his hands and face.

“What happened?” I ask, standing.

In our world, there’s always blood. Every life we save is paid for with another life. Each monster we remove deserved it, but the lines in Cliff’s face tell the story of the toll it takes. It weighs heavier on his soul than it does mine. Looking at the stains on his skin, I know exactly why they called him Red Dog in prison. He’s a terrifying sight with his towering frame, broad shoulders, and dark hair, blood dried into his beard and under his fingernails. His name might be Clifford, and he might be a gentle giant with me, but he’s no docile puppy.

He glances down at his hands. “It’s not real,” he says quickly. “Lucy was doing this Halloween photo shoot with Bunny and it got out of hand.”

I sag back into the chaise, relieved. There’ll be no bodies to bury tonight. He sits beside me, pulling up a video. I watch my adoptive sister scrub her baby, covered in fake blood, in the sink. “I swear I didn’t mean to Carrie prom my baby,” she says in the video, and I snort softly.

“Lucy and Pinterest fail, in the same sentence? My eyes must be lying.” I fight another wave of yawns. “Please tell me you got costumes,” I murmur.

“I did,” he says, “but you’re not gonna like them.”

Cracking an eye open, I take in what he’s holding up. He’s right.

To be continued…

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Catch Up on the River Reapers MC Series

Book 1 | Book 2 | Novella | Book 3

I’ve Been Publishing for 10 Years! Here’s What I’ve Learned

On October 11th, 2011, I published my award-winning short story, “Moon Prayer,” to the Kindle and Smashwords stores. Only a handful of people bought the ebook edition, but I was hooked. Over the next 10 years, I chased my next high over and over.

My first ever signing, sometime in spring 2012.

Writing is my addiction. It’s also the way I figure out the world, and myself. Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” He was right. Writing is my release; after the gush and then stanch comes the rush of endorphins.

In the 10 years since I started this journey, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that this career is not romantic or glamorous—it fucking hurts. To survive, you have to be strong and resilient. It helps if you’re really stubborn. It really helps if you’re a little crazy. Most days, I don’t even know why I’m still going at it. So many writer friends have disappeared, never to publish again, because the mental toll is too expensive.

It scares me, that something I love could destroy me.

But then I remember why I write: for me. I write the kinds of books I want to read. I’ve been entertaining myself with stories for as long as I can remember. Some of my favorite memories are the elaborate soap operas my sister and I played out with our action figures. (We had a whole tiny town built out of shoe boxes, doll houses, and chairs, full of all these characters with individual backgrounds and lives.) Eventually I taught myself to type on my mom’s word processor, and I started writing fiction. (I still don’t type properly today.)

I started writing for me, but other people really like my stories. It’s hard for me to find readers, because I’m not writing for the standard person. I’m writing for the people like me: the outcasts, the black sheep, the ones who paved their own road.

So, on my 10-year anniversary, I give myself the gift of a new manifesto. This list is for me, but maybe it’ll resonate with you. Take what you need and leave the rest.

  • Don’t give away everything.
  • Learn the rules of your genre, and then break them in ways that make sense.
  • Protect yourself, your IP,  your privacy, and your mental health.
  • Figure out what you do best, then keep doing it.
  • Ads don’t work for all books, or even all authors.
  • Build and manage your own ARC team.
  • Don’t forget about local readers.
  • Make your newsletter your #1 marketing priority.
  • Set yourself up for success.
  • Let go of the things you can’t control.

My most recent signing, at RomantiConn 2019.

A Note on Making Money: Every author wants to know to make a living from writing. There’s no timeline or instruction manual that fits everyone. I’m still trying to figure out how to do it; I came close in 2019 when I released A Risky Prospect. There are so many factors involved, and even two authors writing the same sub-genre and tropes are going to have completely different career experiences. It can be maddening, so try not to compare yourself to others. That’s easier said than done, and I know it also sounds like a cop out. But there truly is no secret, one-size-fits-all answer. It’s something you have to figure out as a business, through time, experimenting, and commitment.

A Note on Burnout: This gig is stressful. I’ve seen a lot of authors come in hot, publishing and rising fast, and then crashing just as quickly. Make sure you’re pacing yourself. Make sure you’re refueling your soul. Make sure you’re on top of your mental health. Set your expectations and goals at a reasonable place, with actions you can actually control (like “I will write and publish this book by this date,” instead of “I will make this book a bestseller that pays my bills”).

Writing isn’t just a career; it’s who we are. The world needs us because we put into words the things that many people can’t say. We tell it like it is, and we build a better tomorrow, all with the power of our words.

I don’t know what the next 10 years hold for me, but I hope they give me 10 more things I’ve learned and dozens more books on the shelf under my name.

Post a Review of A FATAL PROSPECT (Pretty Please)

If you’ve read A Fatal Prospect, please post a review! Reviews are for readers, not authors, but they do help me out quite a bit.

There are quite a few myths about reviews—sorry, 50 or more reviews don’t trigger Amazon marketing—so here’s how they actually help.

  • They help other readers decide if my book is The One for them
  • They show other readers that my book has actually been read by real people
  • They help me determine what is working and what I need to improve

If you could post a review for A Fatal Prospect, whether you loved or hated it, I’d really appreciate it!

Not sure how to post a review? Here are some tips!

  • Say what you liked and didn’t like about the book
  • Tell people what your favorite and least favorite parts were
  • Let people know if it was too spicy, not spicy enough, or just right
  • Mention whether it met your expectations for a biker romance

Where to post your review:

Thank you so much!

Post a Review of HER MERCY (Pretty Please)

If you’ve read Her Mercy, please post a review! Reviews are for readers, not authors, but they do help me out quite a bit.

There are quite a few myths about reviews—sorry, 50 or more reviews don’t trigger Amazon marketing—so here’s how they actually help.

  • They help other readers decide if my book is The One for them
  • They show other readers that my book has actually been read by real people
  • They help me determine what is working and what I need to improve

If you could post a review for Her Mercy, whether you loved or hated it, I’d really appreciate it!

Not sure how to post a review? Here are some tips!

  • Say what you liked and didn’t like about the book
  • Tell people what your favorite and least favorite parts were
  • Let people know if it was too spicy, not spicy enough, or just right
  • Mention whether it met your expectations for a biker romance

Where to post your review:

Thank you so much!