I have a super-awesome cover reveal to share with you today! Hellish Haven, a dystopian multicultural romance, is belong published in November by Lyrical Press (Kensington Publishing), and the author approached me to do a cover reveal. And when you see the cover and read the synopsis, you’ll see why I jumped at the opportunity! I’m also sharing an exclusive excerpt, so make sure you stick around for that 🙂
Release Date: November 17, 2014. Published by Kensington Publishing
My first thought on seeing the cover was Wow! My second was that I really need to read Hellish Haven: I’ve been looking for a new sexy SFF story to become a fan of.
Two lives. Two realities. But only one truth.
The Senator reigns all-powerful in a manifested picture-perfect world. No worries. No wars. Only the unspoken threat of oblivion if you step a toe out of line. On the other side of the divide, the rebels face a debilitating war against an invulnerable robotic army. Every day is a struggle to earn back their freedoms. Freedom to feel. Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.
Sergeant Grant Baker is pivotal to the war effort. But ever since his wife’s abduction, he’s been walking around in as much of a daze as the Senator’s brainwashed citizens. Then Eva reappears—without memories of him or their son. And he’s willing to do anything to keep her. Even if it means jeopardizing the war.
Eva doesn’t know which side to believe. Her predictable life as a single nurse, or the man claiming to be her husband. All she knows is she needs to discover how to end the war, quickly. If she doesn’t choose sides soon, she may lose the man—and the life—she never knew she wanted.
Sergeant Grant Baker held his raised fist steady, gesturing for his men to hold. Although the dawn light left little to see but outlines, they expected his signal and huddled in the alley. A chill December breeze teased between the buildings to rustle his hair. Despite the season, wearing a hat was impractical. Anything covering his ears would limit his hearing.
The wind carried no sounds of alarm. That in itself raised the hairs on the back of Grant’s neck. He waved his second in command, Ashland, closer with a flick of his fingers. Patting the shoulders of two privates in between them, Ashland crossed to Grant’s position at the mouth of the alley. For a short man with a slim build, he had the respect of the squad. Rapport, too. He would make a fine leader if anything should happen to Grant.
Grant roughly rejected the notion. Think of Miguel. Think of your son.
The boy was the very reason he’d entrenched himself in enemy territory to begin with. He and Miguel wouldn’t last a week on the meager scraps in the fridge. No one else on their side of the divide fared much better.
Ashland strode within earshot, crouching down beside Grant.
“Guards?” Grant asked tersely. The muscles in his shoulders twisted into pretzels while he waited for the answer.
“None. We’re clear. We should move in.”
Grant grabbed onto the shorter man’s arm as Ashland moved to stand. “No. Could be a trap. They doubled the guards on the warehouse last month. Why none now?”
Grant scowled at the snarky answer. Ashland would have to lose that mouth if he ever took command. Which wouldn’t be any time soon. Miguel needed a father. The poor boy had already lost a mother.
After lifting the night-vision binoculars to his face, Grant scanned the nearby buildings. He didn’t linger, but swerved west. High-rises blocked the view. The enemy’s main command loomed less than two dozen blocks away. Grant and the rebel forces called the interrogation building, “The Eye,” a nickname devised by his wife, a Tolkien fan. The logical part of his brain urged him to forget about his wife and the tortures she might have endured after two months in enemy hands. But hope lodged like shrapnel deep in his heart, immovable.
Ashland lowered the binoculars from Grant’s white-knuckled grip. “We’ve secured the perimeter. No guards at the doors.”
Grant shoved the vision-enhancing tool onto the holster on his hip. His eyes slowly readjusted to the dim dawn light. The unwelcome reminder of their current mission squelched the urge to barrel into enemy territory on some wild rescue mission. Scratching that itch could leave Miguel an orphan. Even though more of Grant’s sanity chipped away every day without his wife, he could never risk his son’s happiness to find her.
And how could he bring her back to an apartment with no food? Grant shook his head, forcing himself to consider the problem at hand.
“We should move in now, before the Senator detects us here.”
Grant swatted a hand at his second in command, as if he could banish his words so easily. “I don’t like this. There should be guards.”
He’d conducted drills for weeks on maneuvers to incapacitate the innocent men and women without causing permanent harm. He refused to allow a bloodbath on brainwashed citizens.
“Maybe they quit,” Ashland suggested. “Too dangerous. Not enough pay to put their necks on the line.”
“You don’t believe that any more than I do,” Grant snapped. The Senator and his goons would have brainwashed the security guards into believing no massacre had ever happened.
“The longer we stay here, the longer we invite detection.” An edge of anger sharpened Ashland’s voice. “An all-out war, even.”
“You had me before the last part,” Grant muttered without looking behind. The warehouse remained still, void of any signs of life within.
Grant shifted his weight, preparing to stand. His legs ached from the prolonged position. “The Senator doesn’t fight with soldiers. He plays dirty.”
Even without turning, Grant knew Ashland stood coiled to launch another sarcastic quip or protest. Grant barked, “Take position.”
He pretended not to hear Ashland’s sigh of relief. “Yes, sir.”
Although he strained his ears, Grant picked up no more than the ghost of stray pebbles crunching beneath booted feet. The men and women under his command were good. They had to be. They’d been fighting the Senator for too long. Eight years too long. But the war wouldn’t end overnight. It wouldn’t end until the Senator relinquished their freedoms. Even if Grant had to pry it from his stinking, bloodstained hands.
Against his better judgment, Grant raised and lowered his arm in an openhanded chopping motion, the signal to move in. Ashland would already have spread the word to prepare down the line. No one in the squad used electronic communications. The Senator monopolized all channels.
Grant shifted the rifle from his back and stood. He led the attack.
A symphony of booted footsteps erupted in his wake as he barged across the road, deserted at this early hour, and planted himself beside one of three doors ringing the warehouse. Select members of his squad squatted outside the other two to ensure no unexpected visitors joined them while they were inside.
The door itself was made of heavy metal, meant to keep intruders out. A round, shallow dent evidenced it hadn’t been replaced since they’d used the battering ram on the last run. Grant narrowed his eyes. Why not? Fresh paint covered the flecks of blood from the conflict with security before his squad had gained entrance.
As his gut knotted, he motioned for the two soldiers carrying the makeshift battering ram to wait. He tried the knob.
Grant fought the instinct to retreat. Pointing to two privates, he motioned them forward and signaled for the others to hold even though the dawning light of the day would draw notice to them. He couldn’t shake the uneasy pinch in his gut.
This was supposed to be a simple food run. The same they made twice a month to warehouses like this one, pillaging what they could to feed themselves and their families. An easy job, but not this easy. Even the Senator had more sense than to leave his food stores unattended close to their Manhattan base.
Gripping the weapon in his hand, Grant stalked forward.
The interior of the warehouse was unlit. He motioned for one of the two soldiers to find the light switch. The other followed on his heels as he took slow, hesitant steps into the building, scanning the shadows all the while.
He’d wager the last of his precious shaving cream that something sinister was at hand. Now, more than ever, he wished he was able to communicate with the men surrounding the building. What was going on out there?
The lights in the warehouse flicked on one by one. Grant flinched at the crack of the fluorescent overhead lights returning to life. He blinked at the sudden brightness, turning full circle with his gun at the ready.
No one leaped out of the retreating shadows to attack him. There was nothing here.
His grip on the rifle slackened. The muzzle dipped toward the floor. Not a single shelf, not a single skid remained in the empty, open space. It was like the warehouse had never existed. But they’d sent men on intel missions beforehand to determine the shipment dates and the wares the space was to hold. Earlier in the week, the warehouse had been bustling with activity, with freight arriving yesterday, Friday, and next Monday. What had changed?
The soldier to his rear voiced a wary, “Sarge—”
“Get out,” Grant barked. “Both of you. Now. Something isn’t—”
A projector along the far wall flickered to life. Propaganda. Grant fumbled in his pocket for earplugs.
The bare space flooded with the image of a greasy man’s face. His lips curved into a sickening smile beneath the shadow of his goatee. “Good morning, Sergeant Baker. Your pretty wife says hello.”