Bittersweet Injuries by Kateri Stanley

Bittersweet Injuries 
The Dove and Snake Series 
Book One
Kateri Stanley 

Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Date of Publication: 28/09/2023
ISBN: 979-8851416583
Number of pages: 302
Word Count: 81K
Cover Artist: Kateri Stanley and Daniel Olah 

Tagline: Some secrets can last for centuries

Book Description: 

Marcus Weaving is a retired psychology lecturer and therapist. Not a man to sit around, he volunteers at his local university. Years of clinical practice are put to the test when he receives a mischievous text from somebody called L.

Intrigued and unnerved, Marcus goes to the address provided and is welcomed by a beautiful blonde woman named Lily. Their story goes way back to his tumultuous youth when he had to flee from his abusive mother and other demons skulking around.

Timing for a romantic reunion could not be any worse. Marcus is about to become a grandfather and he has ongoing issues with his estranged, drug addicted son.

Why has Lily shown up after all of this time? And, why hasn’t she aged a day?

Excerpt Prologue

The rambler puffed and panted her way up the hill. What had started off as a pleasant morning in the beautiful rustic countryside had turned into a torrential disaster of an afternoon. She’d been strolling in a loose sweater with a fleece wrapped around her waist and now, she was thankful she’d packed the waterproofs before leaving the house.
She dug her heels into the mud, pushing on two walking poles, dragging her body towards the top. Rainwater dripped off the hood of her jacket. After several minutes of intense core strength, she managed to make it to the top of the hill and was relieved when she saw the warm lights of a nearby pub. She could take shelter and fill her stomach with cider, gravy and mashed potato.  
She was not alone on the hill. Somebody else was there, mad enough to attempt to climb the rest of the mountain.

“Hey!” the rambler shouted. “I wouldn’t go up there if I were you, mate. The rain’s too heavy. You’d be better off waiting!”

The other rambler donned in the same hiking gear turned to face her. He had a druid beard which hid middle eastern features and hair so long that it spilled out of his hood. He raised his hand signifying a gesture not to be worried. Then he smiled, giving the rambler the thumbs up and continued to trudge upwards. He wasn’t wearing any walking boots. How strange. His bare feet would get cut to shreds or he’d catch some sort of infection in this weather.

The rambler glanced at the pub in a panic. She didn’t want to be responsible if the body of a man was found buried somewhere on the mountain, even though she’d tried to warn him. She turned back, the rain was hailing down. She could barely see the crown of the mountain. The strange thing was, the other rambler had vanished.

The coffee shop on the high street was one of his favourite places to unwind after a hard day’s work. Jove acquired the booth by the front window, delicately sipping his large skinny latte. He enjoyed watching people pass by; it was humanity at its best. They were lost in their own little worlds, unaware of who was observing.

He peered at his watch, his former employee was late, whereas he on the other hand… was on time. After half an hour, he sensed a presence enter the coffee shop, then a soft manicured hand lightly brushed his shoulder.

“I think you should invest in a watch,” said Jove.

“You know I don’t bother with that old fashioned garbage,” the voice replied, belonging to the woman standing before him.

Jove sighed. “I’d appreciate it if you could inform me that you’re going to be late. It’s called common courtesy. I have other places to be. You know this.”

The woman plonked her handbag on the opposing seat, disturbing the gentleman reading his newspaper in the next booth. She didn’t notice his annoyed expression, she didn’t care.

“Good place to sit,” she said. “You’ve got a keen eye. Watch my bag.”

She grabbed her purse and marched to the bar. Her sharp high heeled boots clicked and clacked on the shiny floor. Her provocative walk echoed dominance and confidence.

“Splashing out I see,” Jove commented when she returned with a large caramel macchiato and a plate of fruit toast.

“It’s a special occasion,” she replied merrily, sitting down. “Our meet-ups are important.

Oh, and by the way, it’s Lucille when I’m in this skin. Respect my pronouns haha.”

“Fair enough,” Jove replied. “How have you been?”  

She sucked the cream ravenously from her fingers. “Profits dropped slightly this month. I’m working on a strategy to increase the market.”  

“And what is that?” he asked.

Lucille smirked. “You know I don’t part with my ideas.”

“Of course, I was just venturing.”

She wiped her hands with the napkin and began to lather the butter onto the fruit toast with a plastic knife. “You know, I truly think the modern world was made for me. The secrets, the scandals, the back stabbings. Souls willing to part with their shares for a couple of thousand followers, faking chronic illnesses for attention. Social media is a wonderful thing. It’s an all-you-can-eat-buffet of human depravity. I love it.”

Jove did not need the loaded information. He already knew about it, and it troubled him.

“How come you chose Starbucks?” Lucille bit into the toast, ripping it with her teeth, the way a predator tore into its prey. “I thought you were a Costa Coffee guy.”

“I felt like a change.”

“I agree,” Lucille nodded. “See that guy outside?”

Jove watched out of the window, noticing a tall man in a long grey overcoat with receding brown hair purchasing a Big Issue magazine.

“He sold me a share because his wife left him for his best friend. Oh, and that woman, and that fat bloke there. Infidelity is a real mood killer for passion.”

Jove caught sight of each person Lucille indicated. The crowds moved similar to a fast-pacing stream. Before he could hone in on her clients, they melted into the background of the city. A soul wafted past and he pointed at the window pane. “That girl broke her leg saving her brother from a house fire.”

Lucille rolled her eyes at his observation. “Whoop de doo. Good people, so boring. Anyway, how’s everything down your way, or should I say up your way?”

“Everything’s fine.”

“Does anyone ask after me?”

“Your name pops up, now and then. Not in the most civil terms, I might add.”

“Doesn’t surprise me. I’m glad I gave in my notice, no offence.”

Jove frowned. “From my recollection Lucille, you were… cast out.”

Her gaze hardened. “I walked, actually.”

“I’m not here to argue. But, if you cleansed your heart, I’d let you back in with open arms.”

“That’s sweet, but I love being my own boss.” She wiped her mouth with the napkin, careful enough so she wouldn’t smear her lipstick. “I think all of you have your wires crossed. My job isn’t much different to yours. It’s not… bad. It’s not evil either. I collect and punish the wicked and sinful. Isn’t that a good thing?”



About the Author: 

Kateri Stanley is a dark fiction author. Her books include bestselling horror debut, FORGIVE ME and fantasy thriller, FROM THE DEEP. She lives with her partner and her cat in the Midlands, UK. 


War of the Sea – Kickstarter by Dana Claire

War of the Sea – Kickstarter
Olympian Wars
Book One
Dana Claire

Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Chamberlain Publishing House
ISBN: 9798987263563
Number of pages: 270
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Brush Media Group

Tagline: A bargain. A brigand. A battle for the sea.

Book Description:

His powers could save the ocean. Her vendetta could sink a kingdom.

Captain Elouise Farrington, the youngest pirate on the Caviar Sea, seeks revenge on her father’s killer. But when her oddly hypnotic foe proposes a pact to kill the Siren Queen and end the War of the Sea’s bloodshed, she must make a choice. Put aside her long-brewing retribution or act the underhanded pirate and use the alliance to claim the life of the man who destroyed her family?

Captain Rylander Bordeaux, the revered royal navy captain of the Isle of Cava, has one mission—kill the Siren Queen and end the War of the Sea. The ocean is the only place Rylander calls home, but to bring peace to his beloved waves, he must defeat his past so he can reshape the future. His greatest hope is Captain Elouise, who calls to him like no siren song ever has. Too bad she’s almost as bloodthirsty as the fanged heart-eaters themselves. She promises to lend her all-female crew to his war on the sirens, but can he trust a brigand—especially one who wants him dead—to uphold her end of the bargain? Or will she be his undoing?



Our mouths met once again, hungry and desperate, as I lifted her into my arms. Her chemise rose and bunched in between us. My palms cupped her exposed thighs, urging them to encircle my waist. I walked us backward to the bed, never breaking our kiss, and slowly lowered her down, careful to bear my weight against my forearm. I savored the softness of her lips, the warmth of her breath mingling with mine, as her fingers wove into my hair. Pleasure and pain radiated through my scalp as she pulled the ends with her iron grip, her moans urging me on. With my free hand, I explored her, tracing the lines of her neck, the softness of her breasts. Her body arched in response, a silent plea for more.

I continued my journey, my hand tracing the curve of her hip, slipping beneath her knee, and wrapping her leg around me once more. The connection between us grew stronger, an unspoken understanding that we were meant to be entwined, a meeting of souls. And then, with a surge of anticipation, I pressed into her, feeling her heat and the electric pulse of our bodies against one another.

She pulled back, her eyes locking onto mine, reflecting a hunger and longing that mirrored my own. A mischievous smile played upon her lips as her fingers toyed with the button on my trousers. But before she undid it, I heard a noise. Footsteps.

“It’s probably a good idea to tell you both I’m in the room.” Smitter’s voice sounded somewhere behind me, way too close to the bed, to us.

I jumped backward, lost my balance, and stumbled to the floor. My rear landed hard. Lou swathed herself in a wad of sheets.

“I had hoped you’d come up for air, but there’s really no good way to interrupt.” He waved in between us.

“I’m going to kill you,” I growled from the floor. Out of all the times my uncle had popped in and out of a room, this had to be the most invasive and humiliating.

“Why would you …? I can’t— Don’t you ever do that again,” Lou shouted, horrified. Her hands balled around the sheets. Flushed like a sunburned noble, she volleyed her gaze between me, half clothed on the floor, and Smitter. Her knotted hair stuck up on top of her head.

“Yes, I realize it’s not great timing, but the two of you need your rest. We drop anchor tomorrow on the perimeter of Anthemusa. The men have already been moved to the soundproof rooms. And we need to strategize how you’ll slay the Siren Queen, now that our first plan is no longer viable.” Smitter’s concerned brown eyes found mine. “Also, your aunt said this isn’t the right time for”—he swirled a finger in our general direction—“this.”

Lou’s brows contorted. “What? Who is your aunt?” She gaped at me.

I waved Lou off. Aunt Artemis, the goddess of childbirth, would know when Lou should abstain, but I wasn’t about to have that conversation. I bent my knees, resting my elbows on my thighs, and rubbed my temples. My family had truly outdone themselves. Not a single boundary nor a clue as to how their incessant involvement could be a nuisance.

About the Author:

DANA CLAIRE is an award-winning author whose stories explore identity, fate, and destiny in the crossroads of romance and adventure. 

Her love of romantic tension and the supernatural effortlessly translates into spine-tingling action and unforgettable characters. 

She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her adoring husband living her dreams: writing books, telling stories, and changing the world, one reader at a time. 

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Guardians by T.J. Baer

T.J. Baer

Genre: Young Adult, Scifi/Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Publisher: NineStar Press
Date of Publication: July 18, 2023
ISBN: 978-1648906787
Number of pages: 210
Word Count: 56,000 words
Cover Artist: Jaycee DeLorenzo

Tagline: Can two girls who hate each other save the world? 

Book Description: 

Seventeen-year-old Alisha Howard is having a rough day. She’s had to rescue her headstrong little brother from getting eaten by a monster from another dimension, her mom has put her on dish duty as punishment for bringing her sword to the table (again), and her lifelong enemy, snarky rich girl Belladonna, is starting to look like both a real human being and someone Alisha would like to kiss. To make matters worse, it looks like the world is about to end. 

Alisha is a Guardian, a sworn protector of life on Earth, but is she up to the task of saving the world?

Book Trailer:

Amazon      Nine Star Press

Excerpt Guardians by T.J. Baer © 2023

Chapter One

My brother Jake lay unconscious on the cave floor, his favorite denim jacket torn in three places and his cell phone a cracked mess of plastic on the ground. If we actually survived this, he was going to be pissed.

“All right, look,” I said, giving the giant snarling insect monster my serious face. “I know I don’t look like much, but you should know I am fully capable of kicking your big buggy butt straight back to where it came from, not only for hurting my brother, but for whatever unholy reign of terror you’ve got planned here.”

The monster was nine feet tall, jet-black, and scaly, with hundreds of spindly legs, like a centipede on steroids. Savage mandibles gleamed in the light from the cave mouth, and I tightened my grip on my sword hilt. And because times of stress often led me to incredible feats of word vomit, I kept talking.

“I mean, let’s face it: guys like you don’t generally show up in our world without some kind of nasty plan for world domination, so I think it’s pretty safe to say you’re up to no good. So are you gonna go peacefully, or do I have to start shoving my boot up random orifices until we find the one that hurts the most?”

The centipede monster reared back, its legs fanning out, its mandibles opening—

And then it tilted its scaly head to the side as if regarding me in puzzlement. “You speak great volumes but say very little,” it said in a thin, whistling voice.

Which, okay, was fair. I’d always had a tendency to babble, particularly when I was in imminent danger of being devoured by the Godzilla of centipedes. Generally, the centipede didn’t take the time to inform me of it though.

“I do not wish any harm upon you,” it continued, deviating even further from the Evil Monster Intent on Taking Over the Earth speech. “Nor any human. I came here only wishing to be left alone, but your companion—” It swung its head toward Jake. “—attempted to steal one of my children, at which point I was forced to defend them. I have not seriously harmed him, only caused him to lose consciousness to neutralize him as a threat.”

“He tried to steal one of your kids?” That didn’t sound like Jake.

The centipede-thing tilted its head toward the other end of the cave, where I could just make out the glittering of a number of round, pearly, head-sized spheres. Eggs? They looked like the kind of pretty, decorative objects people would pay a lot of money for, bringing them much more firmly into the realm of things Jake would totally try to steal.

I sighed and slid my sword into its sheath. The magic triggered the instant I did, and sword and sheath shrank to being a decorative golden clasp on my belt. “I apologize for my companion’s rash actions,” I said, bowing my head slightly like we were supposed to do in these situations. “If you’d allow me to remove him from here, I swear to you that he’ll never come near you or your children again.”

The centipede bowed its head too, its pincers snapping and clicking together in a way that I tried not to be too creeped out by. “That would be acceptable. I thank you, Guardian.”
I blinked. “How’d you know I’m a Guardian?”

“Well, for one thing, the sword.”


“But even had you come unarmed, I would have known. You wear your status like a cloak. It seeps from every ounce of your being, every word and action. Though you look a frail female thing, there is power in you.”

“Frail female thing,” I said in a flat voice and decided not to be offended. If the worst thing a giant centipede monster had to throw at me was sexism, I could probably count myself lucky.

“Yeah, well, guess I’d better get Jake—err, my companion—out of your hair before he wakes up and starts trying to make off with your kids again.”
I started forward, hoping the centipede monster would move out of the way, but it stayed where it was, its black eyes glittering in the dimness.

“You have shown me respect and kindness, and so I shall do something for you in return. My species have a unique ability that appears only between laying our eggs and the birth of our children.”

“Oh, yeah? What kind of ability?”

“The ability to glimpse the future. It allows us to provide extra protection to our young when they are unable to protect themselves, for instance if a young human is attempting to steal one of them.”

“For instance,” I said dryly.

“Something lurks on the horizon, Guardian. An age of darkness and danger is coming to you and those like you.”

I frowned. “To the Guardians, you mean?”

“To all beings of your world.”

“What kind of danger?”

Its legs rippled, and it dropped down onto them and made its undulating way over to the row of eggs. Its last word hissed through the cave, seeming to echo louder and louder in my ears:


I suddenly felt very, very tired. “Again?”

About the Author:

T.J. Baer is a queer, trans author of novels and short fiction. Born in Western Pennsylvania, he currently resides in his adopted hometown of Chicago with two cats and a well-stocked cupboard of tea. Some of his titles include Following Grandpa Jess, Guardians, Dreamers, and The Boy Who Was Kissed, and his short fiction has been featured in the Harpur Palate Literary Journal and Flash Fiction Magazine. When not writing, T.J. can be found either discussing queer media on his YouTube channel or failing to escape from murderous ghosts on Twitch.