Thursday, January 12, 2023

Once Upon a Kiss by Author Shilpa Suraj


 “Kissing you means I’m beyond redemption.”

Orphaned at a young age, scraping together a life below the poverty line, Karam Bakshi has only ever wanted one thing. Success. With unrelenting focus and backbreaking effort, he has carved out the life of his dreams. And then he saw her and forgot that he had goals or a plan or even something as basic as ideas.

Shikha Sachdev, only daughter to a mining magnate and jilted fiancée to one of the most powerful men in the country, has never wanted for anything. And then she met him and realised that until that moment, she never had wanted anything. Not like she wanted him.

When passion collides with reason, when the heart goes to war with the brain, and old scabs rip open under the onslaught of new wounds, there is nowhere to hide, nowhere to run, and only one option left; gamble with everything you’ve got. Win and reach for a lifetime of happiness or lose and you lose everything, including your very sense of self.

Can Karam and Shikha ever find common ground? Or are they destined to orbit each other like the most tortured star-crossed lovers of eternity?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com


Read an Excerpt from Once Upon a Kiss


Karam stiffened at the sweet voice and the even sweeter sentiment it oozed. He didn’t do sweet. He turned slowly to face her. 

“Slumming again, Princess?”

Anger flared on those perfect features, but she composed herself a second later. You had to admire that level of control. She would have made the perfect politician’s wife. Kanak, on the other hand…a reluctant laugh huffed out of him. 

“Why are you like this?” she asked now, her tone bored but her eyes alive with something he recognised all too well. The same emotion thrummed through his veins, heating his blood and kickstarting his heart. 

He took a sip from his flask, a deliberately long one. He wanted to smack his lips, the gesture as pointed as it was obscene, when she stepped closer to him.

“You didn’t reply to my last message.” The soft words only stoked the heat.

“Didn’t have time.” The words were a low snarl in response. 

She cocked her head, those pretty hazel eyes seeing right through him and to the lonely, angry, always hungry boy he’d been and apparently, never outgrown. The boy who’d longed for a better life, for a full stomach, for a night without being whipped or beaten, for an affectionate touch, for someone, anyone really, to love him. 

A boy who’d thought he’d deserved better. A boy who’d wanted something pretty, something special in his life. A boy who’d dirtied and ruined everything he’d held in his hands. Including this woman.

He’d kissed her. And she’d lost everything. Her rich, powerful fiancé had ended their engagement, her family had shunned her, humiliated by her actions and her business had lost investors. Apparently, they’d been backing the woman who was going to marry Aakash Thakkar. Not someone who’d kiss an alley rat like him. 

“Go inside,” he told her softly.

But when did she ever listen to him?

“No,” she said, equally softly, stepping forward and into his space. 

“You really need to find a rich, pretty boy to practice this shit with, Princess.” The words were hoarse, his chest starting to heave. 

“But I don’t want to,” she murmured, her fingers pushing the hair back from his forehead, running through the strands. She gripped the back of his neck, the contact feeling like a brand on his skin.

“What do you want?” His hand fisted around his flask even as the other one gripped her hip, the skin soft and satiny under his callused palm. Her saree pallu whispered down one shoulder and slipped to the ground but neither of them noticed, their eyes only on each other.

“What. Do. You. Want?” The words were dragged from him. 

“You, Karam. Always you.” 

This time when she kissed him, he didn’t just go up in flames. He swore he’d burn the world down for a chance to do this again. And again.

About the Author:

A published author with Harlequin India – Mills & Boon India Collection and Juggernaut, Shilpa Suraj’s books have hit both the Hot New Releases and Bestseller lists on Amazon. Her next novel, tentatively titled ‘Wrong,’ has been contracted by Rupa Publications and will release later this year. She is also part of the Flipped Anthology by Harper Collins and had an audiobook book Insta Reddy release with Storytel.

She is, amongst other things, currently working on ‘Frazzled and Fabulous,’ a humorous, true-to-life parenting story that is part memoir and part nonfiction.

An avid reader with a passion for creative writing and storytelling saw her participating in writing competitions at school and dabbling in copy writing for an ad agency as a teenager. Twenty years in the corporate space, including a stint in Corporate Communications for Google, India, and a spell at entrepreneurship all hold her in good stead for her multiple current roles of author, mother and Head of Human Resources & Public Relations at an architecture and interior design firm.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter













Wednesday, December 21, 2022

LOVE BAIT by Varun Pancholi

 



Pranay Oza is excited about his life’s new phase - COLLEGE. And soon enough, life offers him much more than he imagined. Falling in live with a college senior and the love being reciprocated through anonymous love notes was like a dreamy sequence from a romantic movie come true.

But then was this love or bait?

It is college election time too and stakes are high for all the aspirants for the President’s post. It is the last chance for all of them to prove themselves capable of moving into pro- fessional politics.

But can a fresher Pranay Oza be critical to the elections?

At this age, decisions are driven by passion and consequences can be life changing 


Book Links:
Amazon.in | Amazon.com

Read an Excerpt from Love Bait

Prologue

It was four minutes to midnight. Pranay climbed up the wall with the support of the tree trunk and took a pause to look around. There was no one to be seen, it was all silent and so he jumped on the other side as quietly as he could. He steadied himself and looked around again. Finding no sign of any movement, he quickly rushed towards the narrow pathway leading to the stairs, the one he had seen Amrita take the other night.

He quietly started climbing up the stairs. For once, he was happy the hostels rarely replaced a fused bulb on the stairways. It was not a dark night and the half-moon brightened the stairs enough for a cautious climb. His heart was racing fast, not knowing what to expect. He wanted to be quick but silent. “Why am I here? What do I want? Well, it’s a bit too late to think about it now.” But he firmly believed he was expected to be here at this hour.

As he reached the foyer, half way up to the first floor, he heard a creak. He froze in fear and almost stopped breathing to maintain absolute silence. The creak sounded like a door or window closed or maybe opened. He waited and tried to listen hard. But it was all very quiet apart from his drumming heart and his soft breath. The music from the common room remained faint. He concluded it should be one of the windows moving due to the wind.

He climbed up further and reached another small foyer.

There are two doors now, one to his left and one to his right. “It should be the one on the left,” he thought. It was a guess based on what he had seen the other night. He looked for room number but there was none, neither on the other door.

‘Left it is’ he decided. He took a deep breath and steadied himself. Still not sure what to expect, he took a step forward to lightly knock on the door. But as his knuckle touched the door for the first tap, the door creaked.

The door was open. Indeed! He was expected! His breath was still shallow, his anxiety level still high and his heart still pounding. He slowly pushed the door open. It was dark inside and his eyes took a few moments to adjust. The window on the wall to his right was open, the curtains were drawn and the moonlight was filtering in from the borders. There was another glass window on the opposite wall the room which was closed. The light coming in from this window was just enough to create an outline of the bed underneath. It seemed there was no one on the bed. The rest of the room was dark.

He took a step into the room and straightened himself up.

The room was eerily quiet and he could not see Amrita around. Was she shy and hiding from him? On second thoughts he wondered ‘Am I even in the correct room?’





Varun holds a Bachelors degree in Engineering from MS university, Baroda. Additionally, he holds double Masters in Business from Symbiosis, Pune and HEC Paris.
After working in India & France, Varun currently lives in Bahrain with his wife and two daughters. He loves reading and this is his first rendezvous with writing.






Tuesday, December 20, 2022

BAD GIRL GONE GOOD by Author Alisha Kay

 



When Aisha Rajput, the queen of raves and celebrity after-parties, is asked to plan a hospital fundraiser, she's convinced the sun finally rose from the west. And yet, she is determined to blow this brief out of the water for it is her one chance at redemption.

Seven years ago, she shattered Dr Kabir Pradhan's heart with a deliberate, conscious act of betrayal. The least she can do to make up for it is to save his hospital.

Aisha is the woman who loved him and broke him. The last thing Kabir needs is for her to do it all over again with his hospital. He doesn't want her, he doesn't need her, and he certainly won't tolerate her. Or so he tells himself.

When the hospital board leaves them with no choice but to work together, the stage is set for fireworks.

When the heartache of the past collides with the irresistible desire of the present, the future looks to be in jeopardy. Unless the Bad Girl goes Good and saves the day.
But can she?
And does Kabir even want her to, for like it or not, his heart has always belonged to the Bad Girl, hasn't it?



Read an Excerpt from Bad Girl Gone Good


KABIR

The Rajmata of Bannor looked positively hunted as she stared at me.
“She said she’s on her way, beta. I’m sure she will be here soon.”
My brow creased in confusion.
“Who is on her way? I thought we were meeting to discuss how to raise money for the new NICU.”
“We are! But you can’t raise funds without a proper fundraiser. And if anyone can organise a superhit, blockbuster event for you, it is she,” declared Her Highness.
What was the old lady smoking? We weren’t a Bollywood production house. Usha Kiran was a hospital with a reputation for quality healthcare. The manic gleam in her eyes made me very nervous, especially when she started throwing around words like superhit and blockbuster.
“She?” I asked carefully.
“Kabir, you can’t pull off such a big event all by yourself. You need an event manager.”
No. What I needed was for these old farts to get their heads out of their asses and come up with a plan to counter Her Highness’s schemes.
“Your Highness, we’re trying to collect funds, and I’m not sure how blowing up a huge chunk of money on a grand party is going to help us do that.”
The other members of the board nodded in agreement. The very thought of wasting money on a fundraiser made them turn ashen.
She shook her head in disappointment.
“Beta, sometimes you have to spend money to earn more.”
“Well, we don’t have much, to begin with, and I don’t think I can authorise such an expense when I could use the money to buy new ventilators,” I said apologetically.
I knew she meant well, but she needed a dose of reality. There was nothing glamorous about what we were trying to do here. We needed state-of-the-art incubators, ventilators with CPAP machines, as well as a well-trained NICU staff, all of which cost money.
“What if the board doesn’t have to spend a single penny? I will donate the money you need to organise the event,” she replied craftily.
“With due respect, Your Highness, why would you do that?"
She banged on the floor with the end of her walking stick.
“Because it is time to try something new. The world is full of people who have more money than they can spend in this lifetime. And some of them are even willing to share that wealth. You just need to know how to approach them. As for the ones that don’t want to part with their wealth, you need to know exactly how to lure and skin them,” said Her Highness, with relish.
Were we still talking about raising money? I had a feeling there was a ruthless serial killer lurking under that silk-clad grandmotherly exterior. I sighed as I resigned myself to an uncomfortable meeting with the event manager. But I would hear her out before I showed her the door. It was the least I could do.
I looked at my watch pointedly and nodded.
“Fine. Let’s see what this wizard of yours has in mind.”
There was a sharp knock at the door, and it swung open.
“I hope I’m not too old for one of your lollipops, Doctor Uncle,” called a voice that I hadn’t heard for years.
And yet, it hit me with the same force as it had seven years ago.
Her Highness rose to welcome her, but I stayed frozen in my seat, unable to do anything but stare at that familiar face. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! What the fuck was Aisha Rajput doing here?
She walked into the room and greeted Her Highness with a warm hug.
“Now, where’s my favourite man?” she cooed, pulling away from the Rajmata of Bannor.
I clenched my jaw and stood up slowly to my full height as she turned towards me. When she spotted me, she swayed in place as if she had been dealt a body blow. I shot her a frosty smile that made her turn pale.
“Well, if it isn’t the OG Bad Girl,” I drawled.”


About the Author:
Alisha Kay writes funny, exciting and steamy stories, with spunky heroines who can rescue themselves, and hot, woke heroes who find such independence irresistible.
The first book in The Devgarh Royals series, The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancée, won the grand prize at the Amazon KDP Pen to Publish Contest 2020.

Alisha on the Web:
Instagram * Twitter 










Monday, December 19, 2022

WRONG by Author Shilpa Suraj



One wrong choice on the eve of her wedding has left Ananya married to one brother and in love with THE OTHER…

Ananya Saxena is the good girl who has always done the right thing. She is a dutiful wife, faithful daughter-in-law, fierce champion of the law. Except, in her heart was another phrase—reckless lover. An impossible choice for a good Indian girl. Duty had Ananya marry her best friend only to end up with a bitter, vengeful husband. Arvin Saxena is now a cripple, both physically and emotionally, after his wife’s confession the day before they were to be married. So, Arvin’s never-ending pain finds release only in hurting her. What he doesn’t know is that her secret sin was loving Arnav Saxena.

Arnav turned his back on all of them when she discarded him and married his younger brother.
When he is forced to return, it sets Ananya on a collision course with fate and she chooses desire over duty to embark on an affair with Arnav. For a brief glorious time, they have it all.

But soon, Ananya is faced with yet another life-changing decision when adultery, bankruptcy and a web of lies bring her to a crossroads. The dutiful wife or the defiant lover... who does she choose to be? And does she really even have a choice?


Read an Excerpt from Wrong


There was a special place in hell for men who were in love with another man’s wife. Arnav contemplated the fifteen-year-old scotch in the crystal glass in front of him. It helped fan the
flames of the hellfire in his gut. It didn’t stop his gaze from being drawn to the back of her dress. The outfit shimmered like silver smoke over her lithe body. He could see her husband’s hand resting possessively on her exposed back, a thumb gently gliding over her creamy, unblemished skin.

He clenched his glass and gulped down almost half of its contents, savouring the burning trail it left inside him. It did nothing for the guilt that was his constant companion, but it numbed the pain that clawed through him, be it only for a moment.

She laughed. It was a tinkling burst of sound that cut through the quiet murmur of the sophisticated, high society crowd that had gathered for the charity event. A few tendrils of her hair escaped the complicated hairdo her glorious waist-length mane was caught up in and flirted with the
nape of her neck.

Cursing, he pushed back from the table. He needed a smoke and he didn’t care if the world thought it was rude of him to walk out right now. As he made his way through the throng, a part of him registered the way she leaned against her husband and murmured something into his ear. Turning towards her, he
gave her an indulgent smile that spoke volumes about their relationship.

Oh yes, there was a special place in hell for men who loved another man’s wife. He breathed, crawled and existed in that abyss, for he didn’t just love another man’s wife, he loved his brother’s wife. Amidst the scum that grew in the filthy gutter of the deepest, darkest bowels of hell, he was the slime you scraped off the bottom of your shoe. He lived and breathed guilt, remorse and gut-searing pain. She was his friend, his passion, his endless torment, his curse. And yet, he loved her.


About the Author:


Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

 

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter


 


Monday, November 21, 2022

Me No Pause, Me Play by Author Manoj Kumar Sharma

 



This story revolves around Woman and Womanhood through lenses of Social Kaleidoscope.

The essence of this story is overcoming the intricacy and complicacy of Womanhood through innovative measures with calculated risks.
Though since ages wise men never ever denied the unique importance of Women in their lives, but, at the same time couldn’t restrain from autocratic patriarchy and disguised misogyny.
Even Nature’s unworded Laws cruelly dumped Women after manipulating them to the fullest.
How long Woman will have to continue bearing the ongoing sufferings?
Nobody knows, even Woman herself…
But, there are exceptions as well sometimes…
One key protagonist takes the Woman sufferings as challenge, and, not only resolves the physical health and mental agony, but, unexpectedly raises the bar to the next level of inspirational excellences…
After all its own belief system, which can create anything anywhere anytime…
Let incommunicado with our Ethos & Egos… 
Let the status quo of our Women should not PAUSE…
Let our Women PLAY ever and ever and ever and ever… for ever…

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com

Book Trailer:





About the Author:
MIRRRO fame self-styled author Manoj Kumar Sharma has brought his next Novel from a different genre altogether ‘Woman Fiction’.
Delighted by the Best Seller status of MIRRRO in specific multiple timelines, Awards from renowned Literature Houses, moral boosting reviews by book lovers, and, guiding critics, the Author do feel more responsibility for continual inclusive excellences to next levels.
Feel blessed as ‘MIRRRO’ been adjudged for prestigious Awards from renowned Literary Houses…..
1. Best Debut Author Award 2020 from ‘ICMDR’
2. Best Debut Novel Award 2020 among Top 100 Debut Novels from ‘CRITICSPACE’.
3. Best Fiction (Thriller) Award 2020 from ‘The Indian Awaz Foundation’
4. Best Thriller Book of the Year 2020 by ‘Literary Mirror’ 
5. Best Fiction Book of the Year 2020 by ‘AIY AGHAAZ’
6. Best Writer Award 2020 by ‘Yashassvi Awards’
The Story “Me No Pause Me Play” born out of day-to-day life in our society, where every now and then our Women are made to feel the pinch of Nature’s Laws and of Society’s hypocritical Patriarchy and Misogyny. 
We talk a lot and even do a lot for Gender equality, Woman Liberation, Woman Empowerment…but, the practical realities are far far away from the truth and still painful. 
Author is right now working on the sequel of MIRRRO and parallely working on few more Books of varied genres on various known issues of our day-to-day lives…but, in ways beyond innovativeness… 
As an overview the Author believes that Writing is a Soulful Act, blessed by Maa Sarasvatiji & Muse... not by the Author.

Author on the Web:

Giveaway:
1 Paperback Copy of Me No Pause, Me Play by Manoj Kumar Sharma (for Indian Residents)
1 Kindle Copy of Me No Pause, Me Play by Manoj Kumar Sharma (for International Residents)

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Monday, October 3, 2022

HER ALIBI by Author Mary L. Schmidt

 

Her Alibi

By

Mary L. Schmidt

 

 

Book Link only .99 cents! 

Prologue

Visions of her Cherokee grandmother, Cordie, flashed through Mary’s mind as her mother, Marguerite, informed her that her stepfather shot himself and was in the hospital. Oh no!

 

No! This can’t be! Not after the joking around at my home last night. NO!!!! Did she use me last night? She’d never use her scapegoat child. No, she couldn’t! Even Marguerite wouldn’t sink that low! Or would she? Marguerite had always been abusive and vile to most people, and especially to her children and husbands, but would she shoot Harold?

 

Yet, here I was, and I had to tell the police that, yes, my mother was at my home all evening and into the night. How despicable that my mother connived her way into using me as her alibi.

 

 

Her Alibi - Excerpt

The saga of being her alibi started late in the evening one cold winter day in 1982. For three years, my mother never once came to visit the place where I lived with my first husband, who was abusive, but that’s for a different book.

 

My doorbell rang, and I ran to see who it was. I saw Mother’s face through the peephole.

 

“It’s a little late already. What’s up?” I inquired.

 

Mother smiled, which she seldom did. I was surprised to find her in such a good mood. I almost didn’t believe my eyes! My mother stopping by but why? Something was up for sure.

 

“Can’t I visit my daughter?” Mother asked.

I nodded, but a cloud of doubt hung in my mind. I opened the door to allow her in, but I was still dumbfounded. Why would Mother visit me now?

 

After she was there for a while, the doubts left and we sat down and shared coffee and leftover bread from breakfast, the conversation flowing between us almost naturally.

 

It was one of those rare moments when Mother spoke to me, and I, the daughter who always craved her love, basked in what I believed was a reconciliation of sorts. Yet it was a devious plan on her part.

 

“Something’s bothering me,” Mother said.

 

I paused. Something’s always bothering you, I wanted to say. But feeling that the barrier was broken somehow by the evening’s conversation, I asked, “What’s bothering you?”

 

“Harold.” Mother stopped laughing. She was telling me a funny incident earlier, and when she shifted the topic to her husband, her facial expres­sion immediately changed.

 

“What about him?” I questioned.

 

The wrinkles in the corners of her eyes deepened as she smirked. When she spoke, I thought I caught a hint of concern in her voice. I wasn’t sure though.

 

“Do you think people are really capable of suicide?” she asked.

 

I looked at her, surprised. “There’s news about suicides every day,” I said. In my head, I found it hard to understand them, though. Life was so wonderful. Why would anybody want to take his or her life if tomorrow holds a promise of something better that could come along? “Why? How’s Harold?”

 

Mother shook her head. Her expression brightened once again. “I think he wants to take his life.”

 

“That’s preposterous!” I burst out. I didn’t know if my outburst was because I couldn’t believe Harold would take his life, or because Mother didn’t show any compassion. She made life hell for him, but suicide?? Thus, I chose my words carefully as I had no idea where she was headed with this conversation. “Why? He doesn’t strike me as the type.”

 

Mother had been so hard on me that I found it hard to believe she would worry over someone so deeply. Besides, she seemed very buoyant that night.

 

“Do you know what his problem is?”

 

“I don’t know. But he seems really depressed.” Then she laughed loudly. “Enough about that; this time is for us.” She pointed her finger to herself and then to me. “Let’s forget about Harold and go back to other more meaningful discussions.”

 

I frowned, but for the first time, I felt a step closer to her, even though this situation didn’t feel right. I had to be careful with my words as I didn’t want her to punch or kick me, which hadn’t happened since I moved out of her home.

 

In my heart and soul, I knew I couldn’t build a bridge with my mother without love, so no fence mended. She was a total stranger to me, laughing and telling stupid jokes without a care in the world. Harold was forgotten when she finally left after four hours, and I locked my front door.

 

The next morning, I awoke to such horrible news. Mother had “found” Harold with a gunshot wound in his upper abdomen outside their house, and in the blue Ford truck.

 

My earlier trips to hospitals when I was young came back to me. The feeling of fear, of whether there would still be tomorrow, taunted me. My heart clenched thinking about poor Harold.

 

I was afraid of Mother, so I never had the courage to visit Harold in the hospital. My conversation with my mother came to mind, and I remembered her telling me that Harold was depressed.

 

Police officers came in to talk to Harold. They wanted to talk to him alone, but my mother rarely left his side, playing the devoted wife. When Harold was alone, he was silent, probably out of fear, and refused to talk with the police. Why didn’t the police pick up on that?

 

When asked where Mother was the night before finding Harold with a gunshot wound in his stomach, and sitting in the cold of night, inside a pickup truck outside their house. Well, my mother told all the police officers that she had been with me!!!

 

It was true, but it horrified me because I felt used. I was her alibi–she did use me. Now what do I do[KM1] ? My mother had me stuck tight, and she knew it! I hated being stuck!!!

 

Will Harold live? Will my mother be charged for this crime? Am I safe? Such a cold, devious, and evil Mother she was!  

 

 

 

BIO:

Mary L. Schmidt writes under her given name and a pen name, S. Jackson. She lives in the USA with her husband, Michael, and love to visit their son, Gene, and two grandchildren, Austin, and Emma.

 

Blog: whenangelsfly.net