It’s Alive! Revenge Among the Stars

Revenge Among the StarsBlurb: Aleksia Matthews is left for dead, after space pirates attack her ship and kill her brother. She swears to avenge his death but knows she can’t do the job alone. After taking out an ad for a bounty hunter, she weeds out the bad from the good, and one man stands out. He could be the perfect partner—and that scares Ali more than the pirates do.

Special agent Jason Cole is tracking the pirates who killed his family, but he’s always one step behind. There have never been any survivors—until now. He needs Ali to identify the attackers, but she proves to be stubborn. She plans to go with him on the hunt, and he’s determined to keep her safe.

While Cole and Ali seek revenge, someone at headquarters would like to see them fail. Together they battle explosions, their emotions, and danger from one of their own.

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The Wild Rose Press

Author Information:

Vicky headshotBio: Vicky has been married forever to the one person who accepts that she lives in a fantasy world most of the time. She’s even been seen at the beach building worlds for her stories. In addition to creating fun characters, fantasy worlds, and suspenseful situations, she also enjoys and is very good at things like writing policy and procedures manuals and setting up continuity and organizational spreadsheets, both of which she has actually earned money doing. She has a master’s degree in library science so likes things organized. Okay, so her family thinks having the spice rack alphabetized it a bit much, but she has no trouble finding what she needs when she needs it. And just because her extensive library is cataloged and organized, that doesn’t mean she’s obsessive. Honest. When not writing, Vicky can be found in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free, lactose-free, other allergy-free meals. Or watching the world go by from her front porch swing.

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The airlock swooshed open, yanking him out into the vacuum of space. He got his bearings and aimed for the huge hole in the side of the little ship.

To combat the stygian darkness inside, he turned on a hand light to add to the lights on his helmet. The light showed a short, empty corridor to his left. Jason turned right and thought he caught a glimpse of bright yellow floating at the edge of his light. He shrugged out of his jets and thrust toward the object. As he drew closer, he could see an emergency suit with someone inside. He checked the gauges on the air supply. Empty. But for how long? He took several deep breaths and unhooked his supply, attached the hose to the suit, and towed the body to the breach.

“Sami? I have the body. No life signs. The systems are off, and the air is exhausted. I’ve temped it with mine.”

“You’ve got one minute to get your butt back here. I’m in as close as I can get.”

Sami’s locks winked at him from a short distance away. He shoved the body through the breach, keeping one hand on the suit so it wouldn’t float away. Once he exited, he grabbed his jets, gathered the bundle into his arms, and kicked off from the ship straight into Sami’s lock. The door slammed shut, and the emergency air flooded in. Almost before the inner door opened, he’d removed his gloves and helmet. Sami had a med-cart waiting for him. He dumped his now heavy burden on the cart and removed the helmet. The vision almost made him pause, but years of training kicked in.

He stripped the suit off the woman and yanked the diagnostic canopy over her.

“She’s in!” Jason rushed the cart toward the cabin that also served as his sickbay. Lights flickered as the displays came on-line.

“Get the cart hooked into my systems as soon as you can. Remotes aren’t going to work well enough,” Sami said. “Wish Dex had my avatar finished.”

“Dex should have the upgrades ready in two weeks. We’ll pick him up next time we’re at the Web,” Jason said. He hated to admit it, but he missed Sami’s avatar too. The android was handy to have around— especially at times like this. And unlike humans, didn’t demand his time or attention.

Jason positioned the head of the cart against the front wall and hooked in the leads. “Ready.”

He studied the overhead display, nodding when the flat-lined heart rate spiked, and then settled to a steady beat. “What do you think, Sami? Did we get to her in time?”

“Brain activity is good. All vitals are looking good. Do you want her awake or asleep?”

Jason cocked his head. “Asleep for now. I’d like to check over her ship. I wonder why the pirates left it more-or-less intact. Why leave this one behind? More importantly, who is this woman, and why is she still alive? And how did she escape? Or did she? Could she be one of them? In all these months, they’ve never left more than pieces of ships too small to even sell for salvage, and they’ve never left anyone alive. Why now? And why her?”

“Maybe they saw us coming?”

Jason snorted. “They were long gone by the time we got here. Keep her asleep until I get back. Then we’ll try for some answers.”

“No problem.” A fine mist flooded the unit.

Jason took a minute to study the woman inside. She had some lean height to her with curves in all the right places and the pale skin marking her as a spacer, but not the roughened features of most miners or grubbers. Her short, white-blonde hair curled softly around her face—the length also marked her as a spacer—short hair required less water, less time. It looked as if her nose had been broken sometime in the past, and her chin looked too angular for her to be called a classic beauty, but he thought her face beautiful anyway. He fingered his own nose and wondered why she hadn’t had hers fixed like he had.

“While you’re looking, do an ID scan on her and her ship. Let’s see if we can find out who she is. How’s she doing?”

“I already did the ship—there’s nothing there. The ship’s ID has been wiped clean.”

“Odd. Okay. See what you can find out about her. I’d like to talk to her—find out her occupation and her reason for being out here. How about her health?”

“She has a touch of minor frostbite, and I’ve detected higher than normal levels of CO2 in her bloodstream, consistent with her systems being down. I contacted Doc at the Web and got his input. I’ve already started the remedies. Are you leaving, or are you just going to stand there and stare at your slumbering beauty?”

Jason jerked his head. “Okay, okay. I’m going. Slave driver.”

“One of us has to keep things moving.”

He grumbled but got out a fresh air pack and locked on his helmet. A few minutes later he returned to the scuttled ship. He did a check on the systems, but nothing remained. No wonder they couldn’t ID the ship. The pirates had trashed the bridge. The breach had been in the hold so he didn’t bother going there. Amidship he found four small cabins and a gathering area. Had there been others on this ship? If so, where were they?

The first two cabins were empty, almost like guest cabins. Nothing more than the basics. The third one was a mess. Personal items floated around, mixing with data cubes and bedding. He snagged several of the items and studied them. Men’s things. Maybe a married couple? There was nothing feminine about anything here. If married, they didn’t share quarters. He grabbed the data cubes and stowed them in a bag to take back to his ship. The rest he ignored.

He closed the door on the room and floated to the last one. The door wouldn’t open, and there was nothing to brace against to force it, no way to get a grip.

“Sami? A ship this old, where would the controls to the door release be?”

“Should be one meter up from the floor and one centimeter to the right of the opening.”

Jason removed a small laser torch from his tool belt and aimed the beam at the spot Sami indicated. He sliced through the paneling, exposing the catch. He ripped the wires out then shoved at the door. The opening widened centimeter by centimeter until he had enough room to slip through.

Unlike the other cabin, very few things floated around. He snagged a silky shirt and smiled. The woman couldn’t be a grubber if she wore stuff like this. Although she had the looks, he didn’t think she belonged to the Magdalene Guild.

He studied the cabin. So, who and what was she? He opened a few drawers. Everything had been stowed neatly, in a specific manner he knew intimately. He hesitated, his hand on the drawer under the washbasin. “Comb and brush on the right, oral hygiene in the middle, scissors and clips on the left.” He opened the drawer. The interior looked exactly like he thought it would.



“Have you found out who our guest is yet?”

“I’m waiting for the data to come in. There’s an ion storm disrupting communications with the Web. Why?”

“Check her out with IMF. Unless I miss my guess, she’s had some training, maybe even graduated.”

“Interplanetary Military? Interesting. I’ll let you know as soon as I get through.”



Author: Vicky Burkholder

Release Date: 10/9/2019

Genre: Futuristic Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Editions: mobi, PDF, ePub,

Theme(s): Action-Adventure

SubGenre(s): Futuristic/Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Rating: Sensual (PG-PG13)

Word Count: 84563


Guest Author: James Scudder

Thank you for the chance to be part of the Sparkling Book Reviews community. I’m Scudder James Jr, author of new book, Power Players, in the Dreamspinner Press States of Love series. Washington D.C. is a city of extremes – wealth and homelessness, power and frustration, love and hate… In Power Players Jeffrey and Derek battle the extremes and surprise themselves that love just might win.

Where do you write? I’m café-guy. Have been since college. In the last few years since going to a part-time job in order to write (uh, less money, more hours writing), I try to keep café-writing to one day a week, usually a scheduled three or four hours as a treat to look forward to. My favorite café has a view of the Boston waterfront with the masts of historic ships.

How often do you write? At least three-hours on the four days of my part-time day-job. A minimum of six hours (writing or writing business) on the two days away from the job), and one complete day off. Sounds strict, but I feel free when I have plans I’ll stick to.

What would your ten-year-old self say if they could see you now? Really? You can do that? Live in a city? With a man? And you guys are married? And you still have friends and family? And you don’t have to be a lawyer?

If your life were a sit-com, what would the theme music be? Could Moby do a version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy?

What literary character would you like to meet? I’d like to talk with Jack the day he drove away from Ennis in Brokeback Mountain after a surprise visit. Listen, Jack, Ennis wasn’t expecting you. He had his kid for the weekend. Get a room, wait it out, connect with him later. Don’t get pissed, think everything is over and go to Ciudad Juarez for a hookup. Talk it out with Ennis.

In Power Players, do you identify more with Jeffrey or Derek? Neither, really. I grew up closer to Derek, but my work life has been more similar to Jeffrey’s. I do wish I had the powerful focus and determination of both characters.

Other than Derek or Jeffrey, is there a character in Power Players you’d like to spend more time with? Eddie seems like a good guy. He has stuck by Jeffrey, his best friend, for years. Jeffrey says Eddie saved his life. I’d like to see what happens with Eddie, Cassandra and their baby. They’d probably make Jeffrey the godfather. Maybe Jeffrey and Derek? In what cool ways would these families evolve?

PowerPlayers_FS_v1Power Players blurb

Jeffrey knows the underbelly of Washington, DC, well. Once homeless, he’s now the director of a massive coalition of shelters. The last person he’s interested in meeting is wealth consultant Derk. T. Hinsdale III, another slick-talking, privileged jerk. Jeffrey has had enough of those.

But Derek’s latest project could impact Jeffrey’s organization – with a multimillion-dollar gift awarded at a special dinner and ceremony. Jeffrey and Derek seem so different, but in their convictions, they find common ground, and the heat they call up in each other can’t be ignored. Can they salvage a disastrous evening and a painful reminder of Jeffrey’s past?

Power Boys Excerpt:

Where I grew up wasn’t the toughest of DC’s tough, but twenty years ago, violence had been my fear, not gentrification. When Mom died it sucked, until I left at age fifteen, never wanting to see my father or Columbia Heights again. Eddie changed all that. He taught me love. No, he wasn’t my first boyfriend. Not exactly, well, no, not a­­t all because his heart and all that always belonged to the ladies, but eventually he introduced me to other guys who liked guys the same way I did. In truth, he introduced me to myself. And to the future. When I was a homeless fifteen-year-old, he introduced me to his family, and I shared a room with him for the rest of high school. He also introduced me to people who helped get me to college, and he taught me how to give back. Seriously, he saved me. I could say Eddie knew what was best for me. So why, decades later, was he trying to introduce me to exactly the sort of guy he knew I hated to be around

Derek T. Hinsdale III? Just the name, and Eddie should have known better. Slick DC wealth consultant? What the hell was a wealth consultant anyway? Clearly a job for a clueless guy who thought being surrounded by money was normal. Who cared if he bankrolled some of the best political and philanthropic causes? Who cared if the work he supported impacted not just DC but the whole country? Yes, I’d seen his name on donor lists, and yes, he supported good work and could be a good guy, but I wasn’t interested in someone from the stratosphere. There were enough guys around. Couldn’t Eddie have suggested someone who breathed my kind of air? How could he not understand that Derek Hinsdale was not someone I wanted to be set up with?

Purchasing info:


 Barnes & Noble



Scudder James Jr bio

I believe happily-ever-after begins today. Junior high was terrible, boarding school better, and college the place where I met the guy I married. I started working in finance because I thought I was supposed to, but quickly left for an ideal job helping refugees. I have since become a counselor, teacher and fundraiser. After Chicago, Japan, London, and Seattle, I’m back in Boston where it all started. My favorite place to write has a harbor view of two colonial ships.

I’m also thrilled that my short LGBTQ films have shown around the world in places as unexpected as Alabama and East Africa. Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with a neurological disease that doctors are bewildered has mostly disappeared. I’m an avid meditator and passionate about appreciating every moment.

One of my favorite mornings has been waking up on a boat in Patagonia with my perfectly imperfect partner and hiking an island of 120,000 penguins.


Guest Author/Review: RL Merrill

SUMMER OF HUSH by RL Merrill (available Oct 8)

LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance

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This is an amazing story. Easy to read (though, to be honest, I didn’t get all the rock metal references). But even with that, it was still a great story.

Krish—aka The Guru—is a music blogger. He’s been writing his blog anonymously for six years and has millions of followers, including Silas, leader of the band Hush. Krish gets the chance to go on the Warped Tour (this is a real thing, I discovered. A tour for multiple bands that started in 1995) and gets to meet his idol, Silas. There are instant sparks between Silas and Krish, but also too many secrets. When Krish does come out as The Guru, some of the band members don’t take it well. They’ve been burned by journalists and keeping his identity secret doesn’t sit well with them.

There are accidents, fights, making up, making out, and more as the fates try to keep Krish and Silas apart, but also keep throwing them back together. As in most romances, it all works out in the end with a HEA that satisfies.

What I liked: The mixture of reality (the real tour) and imagination (not a real band) kept the story on the believable side. The characters were well drawn, making them feel like you could go meet them. The settings—on the bus with the band and all the things that go with cramming a bunch of young men into a bus for long periods of time. The diversity of the characters.

What I didn’t like: Honestly? Nothing. This is a well-written, believable romance that ends in a HEA that satisfies.

Recommendation: A good read for anyone who likes M/M romances. You don’t even need to understand the music scene to “get” this book. A definite recommend.

Guest Author: Ravon Silvius

Blog tour: Exclusive Excerpt from Ravon Silvius’s newest release, Thrall!

Hello everyone! Today I wanted to share information about my newest release, along with an excerpt from the book!



The old Empire has fallen, and humanity is losing the war against powerful vampires. Kaiden, once the pathetic town drunk, is now a thrall, a mindless servant driven only by bloodlust and his master’s orders.

But when his master orders Kaiden to kill a vampire hunter, Kaiden disobeys.

Hunter Johann has spent years studying old lore and killing thralls, but he’s never seen one like Kaiden, intelligent and capable of free will. If he can convince Kaiden to help him, he might reclaim something thought lost forever: a chance for humankind. But he isn’t sure if Kaiden can be trusted, much less become a tool to kill the vampire who created him.

Kaiden doesn’t know who he is or what he truly wants beyond blood. Most of his memories are shadows, and nothing will bring back the life he lost.

Not a vampire, not a mindless thrall, capable of using the old magics, Kaiden is something completely different.

And being different means being alone.


Thrall is a high fantasy vampire story—vampires in a fantasy setting where they took over once the old empire fell. The book begins with Kaiden, a servant of a powerful vampire, and his run-in with Johann, a vampire hunter sent to kill Kaiden’s master. It takes a lot to establish trust between them, as the excerpt below illustrates….


“That’s your name. Kaiden.” Johann’s voice snapped me back to reality, to the crumbling wall I was chained to. Johann sat across the room, his weapon across his lap. “Are you understanding me, Kaiden?”

Kaiden. Not servant, not thrall. That was my name.

“How?” I asked, my throat dry from hunger and thirst. How had he known my name? I had no idea how long I’d been here, but the lack of complete exhaustion told me it was still night. My weakness and hunger, however, told me it had been hours. I’d never gone this long without some kind of blood before.

“There are some in the village who remember you.” Johann’s words hammered in my skull. “A young man. A useless drunk whose mother was a whore. They say your love of drink was a weakness of demons, and that she fathered you with the vampire.”

“That’s not true!” I growled, then stopped, the anger fading as fast as it had come. Why should I care? That was another life. I—no, Kaiden—had been dead for two months, killed in an alley by a vampire. My master.

I was dead. It didn’t matter anymore. My master’s orders were all that mattered. And he had said to kill—

“Kaiden!” Johann shouted, and I blinked. “Listen to me. I can help you.”

Saliva filled my mouth and I swallowed. My fangs still pricked my lower lip. I could not find the words I needed and growled instead, the scent of blood filling my nose. His heart beat loud in my head, a steady, calm drumming that inflamed my hunger with every pulse.

“Listen!” His voice cracked in the flatness of the stone room. “Do you want to survive as a man, or die as the demon everyone claims you were?”

My growling stopped. I looked up, meeting his dark eyes.

“Tell me, Kaiden.” The sound of my name chased away the biting, curdling edge of hunger. “Tell me what you think you are.”

“I….” Saliva and hunger thickened my words. “I am a servant.” My master’s orders boomed once more. Kill him!

“You are not just a servant,” Johann said, his voice the only thing keeping me from snapping my fangs at him. “You are a thrall. A man turned by a vampire lord, bound by his blood to serve him until you die.”

I fell silent. I knew that. I hadn’t known the name, the term thrall, but I knew what my existence was.

“But….” And now Johann stepped closer, his scent overwhelming. His heartbeat steady. “If you truly didn’t care about anything but blood, if you were truly the mindless thrall the others were, you would have died with them last night. But you didn’t. You ran from me. Why?”

I blinked. He stared at me, his torch burning in his hand. The light hurt, and I looked away.

“Why, Kaiden?” Johann said again. The torch hissed as the wood and pitch burned.

“Why do you even ask?” I said. “I didn’t want to….” I trailed off. I was already dead. Saying that I hadn’t wanted to die would sound foolish.

But it was true. “I don’t want to die,” I said, a growl entering my voice again. “So if you’re going to kill me, I won’t let you.”


If you want to see more, Thrall is available from Dreamspinner press:

Or at Amazon:

And anywhere E-books are sold!

To see Vicky’s review of “THRALL”, go to the LGBTQ+ for Adults page here.

Guest Author: John Petrie

There are a lot of genres that I love. I love screwball comedy. Give me a Sunday filled with black & white movies starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and I’m happy.

But follow that movie up with some film noir and I’m thrilled. When I was young, which I no longer am, I used to record after school movies on VHS.

In my dreams I was a cool-as-ice, leggy mystery woman, with seams up the back of my legs and a smoky voice. I love mysteries where even the good guys don’t always tell the truth.

But I wasn’t quite sure how I could do it and, even, if I could do it. Write a mystery inspired by film noir.

And, oh yeah, since it was also a love story between two guys, how do I write a femme fatale? Who gets to smile mysteriously, as a plume of smoke obscures their eyes?

So I listened to a lot of film soundtracks and tried to figure out how to make someone into the shady lady I always thought I wanted to be.

Though the thing is, when you’re a new writer, like me, you’re sort of tempted to make your main character the coolest, smartest, kindest, most well-adjusted person. The problem was, the film noir characters I like the best are kind of…well, awful. It’s not so much they’re the bad guys. I like heroes who are flawed.

I’d rather watch Veronica Mars solve a crime than Miss Marple. I’d rather slay with Faith than Buffy. I like characters who are rough around the edges, who, maybe aren’t nice.

That was where I started with the character of Timothy Mitchell. I wanted him to be a good guy, but not a nice one. I wanted his defensive side to be the first one that people see. He doesn’t let his guard down easily.

And, what about that shady lady? She’s a he this time around. He’s a tall and burly and has some secrets behind muscles and cigarettes.

Now, one shouldn’t smoke. It’s a bad, bad habit, but since these guys are only real on the page and in the mind, let’s let that slide for the duration of the book, shall we?

Where was I? Ah, yes. Film noir depends on light and dark and morally ambiguous heroes and villains and people not making the best choices. And, while I’d like to think that, maybe, one day, I’ll be the next James M. Cain, mostly I just wanted to write something that I would like to read. If I hadn’t written it. Because it’s just weird for me to read stuff I actually wrote.

But not weird for you. Nope. Not at all. I hope you like it. And I hope you tell all your friends. And relatives. Tell your relatives too.


3f6b52a0-246e-4db6-95f1-5760b3c10873The son of an alcoholic mother, Wyatt Courtland skips school to work construction to help the family survive. When he finds a lockbox containing a series of articles about Bobby LaFleur, a student who went missing four years ago, he enlists the help of sheriff’s son Timothy Mitchell to learn what happened to Bobby.

Timothy wants to go into law enforcement, even if it’s against his father’s wishes. He figures solving this case will convince his dad he can handle police work, but as he digs deeper, he uncovers a string of missing boys—and the truth about Wyatt’s desire to find out what truly happened to Bobby. As the two grow closer, they realize the mystery is far more sinister than they imagined—and it’s a secret someone is willing to kill to protect.


Buy links:



john-r-petrie-2092John R. Petrie grew up in Boston and now lives in the Bronx, NY. Almost his entire working career has been spent around books, from his first job in the town library to more than twenty years bookselling in one of the biggest bookstores in the US. He’s also worked for the Housing Works thrift stores in NYC, Valiant Entertainment Comics, and is now a bookstore manager, which gives him too much access to books and not enough time to read them.

He’s had stories published in True Romance magazine, had a play he wrote produced at his college, acted, danced, and was nominated for a Barrymore award playing Belize in Angels in America.

He stays up too late, eats too much junk food, and has been reading Wonder Woman comics for over forty years.

He is very, very happy to be published by Harmony Ink Press. He hopes to write stories which make people smile.

Twitter: johnpetriewrite

For Vicky’s review of BURIED SECRETS, go to the LGBTQ+ young adult page