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Happy Release Day to Stephie Walls Chimera w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @StephieWalls #‎romance, #1click, #adult, ‪#‎mustread, #kdu, ‪#‎kindle‪‪‪, ‪#‎availablenow, ‪#‎newrelease, #dark,

Title: chimera
Author: Stephie Walls
Genre: Adult, Dark Romance
Published: May 11, 2016
I couldn’t be anything other than a romantic at heart — it’s my nature, it’s who I am. But this isn’t a typical story of traditional love. It isn’t a fairy tale. No happily ever after neatly tied up with a shiny bow. It’s a memoir of the reality left behind in the wake of grief — the desolation, the resurrection, and final culmination life offers to the fallen.

This is a journey through love…the love of self, love of a friend, and sometimes love is ugly, messy —destructive.

My name is Bastian Thames…and this is my story.



CHIMERA Excerpt © Stephie Walls 2016
When Sylvie died, it left a hole in my being that seemed prodigious. I adorn my face with the plastic appearance people anticipate from me, but internally, I weep. Continuing through the monotonous motion of my daily life, I increasingly find myself lost in what my friends—well, those who remain—refer to as a fictional world: novels, authors, artists, musicians, and the illusion of relationships on social media. The more time I spend on Facebook, the more entrenched I become in the fiction that exists on the screen. I believe these “friends” are truly concerned for me; they’re what relationships are in reality. Sadly, these seem to be the only things keeping me hanging on, but the thread threatens to break daily, frayed from top to bottom. The tightly woven fabric that was once my life has deteriorated beyond recognition.
That’s the crux of my juxtaposition. My life had value, it had meaning. It was everything I had ever imagined it could be. But without Sylvie, black clouds roll through my mind, hindering my ability to think, eliminating productivity, and stifling my creativity. My art is as dead as I am. But online…online I can be anything I want to be, whatever version of myself I decide to show to the world. I don’t have to be the pathetic artist who lost his muse. I don’t have to be the sweet, sensitive man Sylvie loved. I don’t know whom I want to reinvent myself as, but the idea of being whatever still exists in my soul doesn’t appeal to me. My craft has become recreating my persona, anything to escape the pain, the desolation, and the solitude. Surely there’s art in recreating an identity.
Most days, I find it difficult to even get out of bed. The colder it gets outside, the shorter the days are, the deeper I sink—sometimes only escaping the protection of my covers to take a piss or get something to eat or drink. Although frequently, I let those things go in favor of marinating in my misery. My laptop calls to me from my nightstand when the loneliness becomes too much to bear, the darkness too black to see through.
That recognizable blue-and-white screen brings me comfort, the newsfeed seemingly a link to real conversation, touching base with the people I’ve known for years—but it always introduces the possibility of newcomers. The “friend recommendation” is the online equivalent to a friend introducing you to someone new; at least it is in my mind. I always check out the recommendations. They’re often other painters or singers that might have known Sylvie—or people I barely recognize from high school or college. But every once in a while, some totally random person surfaces with no tie to my past.
Those are the connections I find most interesting, most appealing.
They also seem to be the safest, having no knowledge of the person I once was, or how all that remains of me is a fragmented shell. I have made several “friends” this way, people I would say I’m close to—even though we’ve never met and likely never will. Herein lies my fictional world, the one my real friends don’t understand and believe to be emotionally damaging to me. I’m not processing my grief…blah, blah, blah. If I hear that shit one more time, I may scream.
As soon as I log in, the familiar recommendations bombard me as if the universe is playing some cruel joke. There she is, my Sylvie…only her name is Sera Martin. She’s a perfect duplicate with the same striking green eyes, long chestnut-colored hair, high cheekbones, and luscious, pouty lips.
I realize I haven’t inhaled or exhaled.
I gasp and hold my breath until my lungs burn. I haven’t seen her in years. The day she died, I came home and stripped our house of any reminder—every picture, every video, every stitch of clothing, anything she loved. It all had to leave. I couldn’t bear the weight of what the world took from me. I imagined if I discarded everything, she wouldn’t haunt me, and maybe, somehow, I would manage to learn to live again if reminders of her didn’t surround me.
Yet, her loss possesses me daily.
This girl. This Sera. Could this be Mother Nature returning my Sylvie to me in a strange twist of fate? The notion there’s a doppelganger roaming the world has always been a thought I believe in. It’s possible after years of suffering, dying inside, barely hanging on, that my savior has come. Without hesitation, I click “add friend.”

I’ve lived all over the country but have made Greenville, South Carolina my home for the last 20 of my 37 years. I have a serious addiction to anything Coach and would live on Starbucks if I could get away with it. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll also find that I’m slightly enamored with Charlie Hunnam. I’m an avid reader (literary whore to be more precise) averaging around 300 novels a year. I have a penchant for great love stories, sensual poetry and am a romantic at heart.

I currently work full-time in the Greenville area and fill my “extra” time with writing contemporary romance novels with a hint of erotica. I couldn’t do it without the support of my family and friends who push me to keep going when I don’t have the confidence or patience.

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Squee!!! Happy Release Day to Pretty When You Cry by Skye Warren w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @indiesagepromo

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Pretty When You Cry
by Skye Warren
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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“Dark, perverse, and unbearably erotic, Pretty When You Cry is SkyeWarren at her gritty best.”
~ Anna Zaires, USA Today bestselling author of Twist Me

A new dark romance novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderlust and Prisoner…

I came from a place of dirt floors and holy scriptures. They told me the world outside was full of sin, and the first night I escape, I find out it’s true. Ivan saves me, but he does more than that. He takes me. He makes me his own girl.

My conditioning runs too deep. Ivan sees what I am.

That’s the thing about showing a mouse to a cat. He wants to play. And it’s terrifying, even for me. Because the only thing darker than my past is his.

Excerpt Two

So far, a city looks exactly how I thought it would—gutted buildings and dark alleys.

A den of wickedness.

This morning I woke up on my floor mat in Harmony Hills. Sunlight streamed through the window while dust rose up to meet it. The white walls somehow kept their color despite rough dirt floors.

A desperate trek through the woods and a series of bus rides later, I made it to a city. This city. Tanglewood. It could have been anywhere. They’re all the same, all sinful, all scary—and the only thing that makes this one special is that I ran out of money for bus tickets.

My shoes are made of white canvas, already fraying and black from the grime of the streets. I made these shoes by hand when I turned twelve, and the heel on the left side has never fit quite right. But the bamboo soles lasted for years in the hills. Now they’re cracking against concrete. I can feel every lump in the pavement, every loose rock, every rounded hump as the sidewalk turns to cobblestone and then back again.

That’s not the worst part.

There’s someone following me. Maybe more than one person. I try to listen for the footsteps, but it’s hard to hear over the pounding in my ears, the thud of my heart against my chest. Panic is a tangible force in my head, a gritty quicksand that threatens to pull me down.

I could end up on my knees before this night is over.

But I don’t think I’ll be saying my evening prayers.

Men are standing outside a gate that hangs open on its hinges. They fall silent as I walk close. I tighten my arms where they are folded over my chest and look down. If I can’t see them, they can’t see me. It wasn’t true when I was little, and it’s not true now.

One of them steps in front of me.

My breath catches, and I stop walking. My whole body is trembling by the time I meet his eyes, bloodshot red in a shadowed face. “What’s your name?” he asks in a gravelly voice.

I jerk my head. No.

“Now that’s not very polite, is it?” Another one steps closer, and then I smell him. They couldn’t have showered in the past day or even week.

Cleanliness is a virtue.

Being quiet and obedient and small is a virtue too. “I’m sorry. I just want to—”

I don’t know what comes next. I want to run. I want to hide. I want to pretend the past sixteen years as a disciple of the Harmony Hills never happened. None of that is possible when I’m surrounded by men. I take a step back and bump into another man. Hands close around my arms.

A sound escapes me—fear and protest. It’s more than I would have done this morning, that sound.

I’m turned to face the man behind me. He smiles a broken-toothed smile. “Doesn’t matter what you want, darling.”

My mouth opens, but I can’t scream. I can’t scream because I’ve been taught not to. Because I know no one will come. Because the consequences of crying are worse than what will happen next.

Then the man’s eyes widen in something like fear. It’s a foreign expression on his face. It doesn’t belong. I wouldn’t even believe it except he takes a step back.

My chest squeezes tight. What’s behind me? Who is behind me that could have inspired that kind of fear? The men surrounding me are monsters, but they’re backing off now, stepping away, hands up in surrender. No harm done, that’s what they’re saying without words.

I whirl and almost slip on a loose cobblestone.

The man standing in front of me is completely still. That’s the first thing I notice about him—before I see the fine cut of his black suit or the glint of a silver watch under his cuff. Before I see the expression on his face, devoid of compassion or emotion. Devoid of humanity.

“We didn’t know she worked for you,” one of the men mumbles.

They’re still backing up, forming a circle around us, growing wider. I’m in the middle. I’m the drop, and the men around me form a ripple. Then they fade into the blackness and are gone.

It’s just me and the man in the suit.

He hasn’t spoken. I’m not sure he’s going to. I half expect him to pull out a gun from somewhere underneath that smooth black fabric and shoot me. That’s what happens in the city, isn’t it? That’s what everyone told me about the outside world, how dangerous it is. And even while some part of me had nodded along, had believed them, another part of me had refused.

There had to be beauty outside the white stucco walls. Beauty that wasn’t contained and controlled. Beauty with color. Only apparently I was wrong. I haven’t seen anything beautiful—except him.

He’s beautiful in a strange and sinful way, one that makes me more afraid. Not colorful exactly. His eyes are a gray color I’ve never seen before, both deep and opaque at the same time. The building itself is beautiful too with its wrought iron gate around a large courtyard. The fountain in the center is broken, but that only adds to the mystique.

The marquee sign reads Grand, a flash of neon pink against the black night.

He steps closer, the light from the sign illuminating his face, making him look even more sinister. “What’s your name?”

I couldn’t answer those other men, but I find something inside for him. I find truth. “I’m not allowed to say my name to someone else.”

He studies me for a long moment, taking in my tangled hair and my white dress. “Why not?”

Because God will punish me. “Because I’m running away.”

He nods like this is what he expected. “Do you have money?”

I have twenty dollars left after bus fare. “Enough.”

His lips twist, and I wonder if that’s what a smile looks like on him. It’s terrifying. “No, you don’t,” he says. “The question is, what would you do to earn some?”

Anything.

My voice is just a whisper. “I’m a good girl.”

He laughs, and I see that I was wrong before. That wasn’t a smile. It was a taunt. A challenge. This is a real smile, one with teeth. The sound rolls through me like a coming storm, deep and foreboding.

“I know,” he says gently. “What’s your name?”

“Candace.”

He studies me. “Pretty name.”

His voice is deep with promise and something else I can’t decipher. All I know is he isn’t really talking about my name. And I know it isn’t really a compliment. “Thank you.”

“Now come inside, Candace.”

He turns and walks away before I can answer. I can feel the night closing in on me, the sharks in the water waiting to strike. It’s not really a choice. I think the man knows that. He’s counting on it. Whatever is going to happen inside will be bad, and the only thing worse is what would have happened outside.

I hurry to catch up with him, almost running across the crumbled driveway, under the marquee sign for the Grand, past the broken fountain, desperate for the dubious safety of the man who could hold the darkness at bay. It’s the same thing that kept me in Harmony Hills for so long—fear and twisted gratitude.

 

 

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THE STRIPPED SERIES

 

About Skye Warren

Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.

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Excerpt, Giveaways, Interviews, Release Day

Happy Release Day to Skye Warren’s Love the Way You Lie w/an author interview & giveaway! @skye_warren @indiesagepromo #NewRelease #DarkRomance

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Love the Way You Lie
by Skye Warren
Publication Date: March 12, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Dark, Romance

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A dark romance about the lies that lead us down…

I’ll do anything to get safe, even if that means working at the scariest club in town.

I’ll do anything to stay hidden, even if it means taking off my clothes for strangers.

I’ll do anything to be free. Except give him up. When he looks at me, I forget why I can’t have him. He’s beautiful and scarred. His body fits mine, filling the places where I’m hollow, rough where I am soft.

He’s the one man who wants to help, but he has his own agenda. He has questions I can’t answer. What are you afraid of?

You.

 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH SKYE WARREN

  1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us what kind of books you write?

I’m Skye Warren, the New York Times bestselling author of dark romance! Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my new release, Love the Way You Lie. It explores taboo themes like betrayal and redemption, overlayed with suspense. If you’re up for something dangerous, disturbing and erotic, take a look…

  1. What is Love the Way You Lie About?

Love the Way You Lie has a stripper heroine and a mysterious lone biker who is first her customer, then her lover, then her… well, you’ll have to read to find out. What you should know is that the book is dark, edgy, and sexy as hell.

This is the first book in a new series set in a strip club called The Grand.

  1. Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love my heroes—their gruffness, their pain, their occasional cruelty. But I have a real soft spot for my heroines. So I would have to say I loved Honey the most. She is beaten down but determined, bent but not broken. For me that’s what strength is about.

  1. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Nothing and everything. I love the actual writing, coming up with a story and falling in love with them. But reader expectation is such a tough thing—it’s tough in any genre but has particular challenges for dark books. Even the word dark means different things to different readers. But ultimately I can only write the books I love and hope that my readers enjoy them.

 

  1. What do you love about alpha heroes? Or anti-heroes, if that applies?

 

Why are these anti-heroes so damn appealing? Well, for one thing, they are tough and driven. They don’t take crap from anyone…even the heroine, sometimes. They often do follow their own code of honor, it just doesn’t necessarily match everyone else’s. But I think it’s something more elemental than that. A man who takes what he wants, damn the rules? Well…it’s plain sexy.

  1. What makes a sex scene sexy to you? Or alternately, what do you do to write hot scenes?

I love a scene I can get lost in, both the physical sensations and the emotional resonance. And what I find most sexy is when power comes into play. Not with games, but where one side has the upper hand, the mingling of distrust and desire, of wariness and want.

 

  1. What else should readers know about Love the Way You Lie?

There’s also a free prequel to the series coming. The best way to stay up to date about my releases is my newsletter here:

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Excerpt 1:

In the first moments onstage, I’m always blinded.

The bright lights, the smoke. The wall of sound that feels almost tangible, as if it’s trying to keep me out, push me back, protect me from what’s going to happen next. I’m used to the dancing and the catcalls and the reaching, grabbing hands—as much as I can be. But I’m never quite used to this moment, being blinded, feeling small.

I reach for the pole and find it, swinging my body around so the gauzy scrap of fabric flies up, giving the men near the stage a view of my ass. I still can’t quite make anything out. There are dark spots in my vision.

The smile’s not even a lie, not really. It’s a prop, like the four-inch heels and the wings that snap as I drop them to the stage.

Broken.

A few people clap from the back.

Now all that’s left is the thin satin fabric. I grip the pole and head into my routine, wrapping around, sliding off, and starting all over again. I lose myself in the physicality of it, going into the zone as if I were running a marathon. This is the best part, reveling in the burn of my muscles, the slide of the metal pole against my skin and the cold, angry rhythm of the song. It’s not like ballet, but it’s still a routine. Something solid, when very few things in my life are solid.

I finish on the pole and begin to work the stage, moving around so I can collect tips. I can see again, just barely, making out shadowy silhouettes in the chairs.

Not many.

There’s a regular on one side. I recognize him. Charlie. He tosses a five-dollar bill on the stage, and I bend down long and slow to pick it up. He gets a wink and a shimmy for his donation. As I’m straightening, I spot another man on the other side of the stage.

His posture is slouched, one leg kicked out, the other under his chair, but somehow I can tell he isn’t really relaxed. There’s tension in the long lines of his body. There’s power.

And that makes me nervous.

I spin away and shake my shit for the opposite side of the room, even though there’s barely anyone there. It’s only a matter of time before I need to face him again. But I don’t need to look at him. They don’t pay me to look them in the eye.

Still I can’t help but notice his leather boots and padded jacket. Did he ride a motorcycle? It seems like that kind of leather, the tough kind. Meant to withstand weather. Meant to protect the body from impact.

The song’s coming to a close, my routine is coming to an end and I’m glad about that. Something about this guy is throwing me off. Nothing noticeable. My feet and hands and knowing smile still land everywhere they need to. Muscle memory and all that. But I don’t like the way he watches me.

There’s patience in the way he watches me. And patience implies waiting.

It implies planning.

I reach back and unclasp my bra. I use one hand to cover my breasts while I toss the bra to the back of the stage. I pretend to be shy for a few seconds, and suddenly I feel shy too. Like I’m doing more than showing my breasts to strangers. I’m showing him. And as I stand there, hand cupping my breasts, breath coming fast, I feel his patience like a hot flame.

This time I do miss the beat. I let go on the next one, though, and my breasts are free, bared to the smoky air and the hungry eyes. There are a few whistles from around the room. Charlie holds up another five-dollar bill. I sway over to him and cock my hip, letting him shove the bill into my thong, feeling his hot, damp breath against my breast. He gets close but doesn’t touch. That’s Charlie. He tips and follows the rules, the best kind of customer.

I don’t even glance at the other side of the room. If the new guy is holding up a tip, I don’t even care. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who follows rules. I don’t know why I’m even thinking about him or letting him affect me. Maybe my run-in with Blue made me more skittish than I’d realized.

All I have left is my finale on the pole. I can get through this.

This part isn’t as physically strenuous as before. Or as long. All I really need to do is grind up against the pole, front and back, emphasizing my newly naked breasts, pretending to fuck.

That’s what I’m doing when I feel it. Feel him.

I’m a practical girl. I have to be. But there’s a feeling I get, a prickle on the back of my neck, a churning in my gut, a warning bell in my head when I’m near one of them. Near a cop. My eyes scan the back of the room, but all I can see are shadows. Is there a cop waiting to bust someone? A raid about to go down?

My gaze lands on the guy near the stage. Him? He doesn’t look like a cop. He doesn’t feel like a cop. But I don’t trust looks or feelings. All I can trust is the alarm blaring in my head: get out, get out, get out.

I can barely suck in enough air. There’s only smoke and rising panic. Blood races through me, speeding up my movements. A cop. I feel it like some kind of sixth sense.

Maybe he feels my intuition about him, because he leans forward in his seat.

In one heart-stopping moment, my eyes meet his. I can see his face then, drawn from charcoal shadows.

Beautiful, his lips say. All I can hear is the song.

I’m not even on beat anymore, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because there’s a cop here and I have to get out. Even if my intuition is wrong, it’s better to get out. Safer.

I’ll never be safe.

The last note calls for a curtsy—a sexy, mocking movement I choreographed into my routine. Like the one I’d do at the end of a ballet recital but made vulgar. I barely manage it this time, a rough jerk of my head and shoulders. Then I’m gone, off the stage, running down the hallway. I’m supposed to work the floor next, see who wants a lap dance or another drink, but I can’t do that. I head for the dressing room and throw on a T-shirt and sweatpants. I’ll tell them I feel sick and have to leave early. They won’t be happy and I’ll probably have to pay for it with my tips, but they won’t want me throwing up on the customers either.

I run for the door and almost slam into Blue.

He’s standing in the hallway again. Not slouching this time. There’s a new alertness to his stare. And something else—amusement.

“Going somewhere?” he asks.

“I have to… My stomach hurts. I feel sick.” I step close, praying he’ll move aside.

He reaches up to trace my cheek. “Aww, should I call the doctor?” His hand clamps down on my shoulder. “I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

I grip my bag tight to my chest, trying to ignore the threat in his words. And the threat in his grip. I really do feel sick now, but throwing up on him is definitely not going to help the situation. “Please, I need to leave. It’s serious. I’ll make it up later.”

He’ll know what I’m saying. That I’ll make it up to him personally. I’m just desperate enough to promise that. Desperate enough to promise him anything. And he’s harassed me long enough that I know it’s a decent prize. I’m sure he’ll make it extra humiliating, but I’m desperate enough for that too.

“Please let me go.” The words come out pained, my voice thin. It feels a little like my body is collapsing in on itself, steel beams bending together, something crushing me from the outside.

Regret flashes over his face, whether for refusing my offer or forcing me that low. But this time he doesn’t let me go. “There’s a customer asking for you. He wants a dance.”
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About Skye Warren

Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.