Friday, September 29, 2017

Guest Blog + Giveaway: Stella Maris by Marita A. Hansen

UFI welcomes Author Marita A. Hansen. Thanks for Joining us!!

Hello, my name is Marita A. Hansen. I write a number of genres, PNR and fantasy amongst them, as seen in my latest book STELLA MARIS (The Legendary Rosaries). Today, I’d like to talk about the different types of Merges (angels and demons) in this book.

There are five kinds of Merges in Stella Maris, each of them having the power to use the legendary rosaries.

Maris (plural: Marises) – Through the blue rosary (known as the water beads or the Maris rosary), Marises are able to manipulate all forms of water. They are named after the sea and tend to live near it, as well as rivers, lakes, or the snow. With the aid of their rosaries, they can create ice spears, manipulate the weather, forge water attacks, as well as control creatures who inhabit water. Maris angels and demons only have blue eyes, while Maris demons are often called sirens due to their habit of luring the opposite sex to their deaths.

Seraph (Seraphim) – The Seraphim are fire angels. Their rosary (which mainly consists of red jewels) gives them control over different forms of fire, including smoke. They also have the ability to astral project, but only when wearing a Halo rosary, which belongs to air Merges. The angel Seraphim are more in danger of being corrupted due to their fiery temperaments and passionate personalities. They have brown eyes that can turn black or red. Young Seraphim find it hard to control their fire powers and can often light up when overly upset or unwell.

Halo (Halos) – Halos are largely air Merges, but can also heal as well as have control over light. They can astral project at will and have the ability to fly. Their rosaries are named after the halo effect that is created when a non-Halo Merge wears the beads. However, the beads don’t light up when a Halo Merge wears them due to Halos absorbing the light. They are white haired Merges who have very pale eyes.

Halos and their rosaries can also bring people back from the dead. Because of this, Halo angels often live in remote areas, hiding from demons, who seek their rosaries. Halo demons are known as harpies.

Terra (Terras) – Terras have control over earthly elements. Although Halos have some ability to alter their appearance, Terra Merges are the only true shapeshifters. Once they have reached their full potential, they can shapeshift into anything, only their eye colour staying the same (violet or green). Terra demons are the most mischievous, often shapeshifting into mythological creatures to confuse humans. In a chapter from Stella Maris, Reprebus tells his grandson that vampires are ugly bloated creatures who look nothing like Hollywood’s creations, and that it was the Terra demons who created the myth of beautiful vampires, largely due to their penchant for blood.

The Terra rosaries are called the Harvest beads or the wine rosary, the latter due to their purple and green gems.

Stella (Stellas) – Stella means star, which is apt, since these Merges are the stars of their kind. Not because they’re famous, but in the sense that they have the ability to control all of the rosaries, therefore controlling all of the elements. They are the only Merges who can travel between Heaven and Earth without having to die. They are also the only Merges who can’t be demons, although they can become vengeful angels, often striking down demons and corrupted humans. This is why they are nicknamed God’s assassins.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the different kinds of angels and demons from STELLA MARIS. This book is the first in a series with its sequel coming out in 2018. TERRA (The Legendary Rosaries #2) will be about the shapeshifting angels.



NATIONALITY: I am a New Zealander with Croatian heritage.
SPORTS: As a teenager my favourite sports were karate, badmington, and running. I also did unarmed combat and played in a touch rugby team (my gym teacher made me do the last one!) Now, I stick to coaching soccer and running. I have completed two marathons, numerous half-marathons and one 30K run.
CAREER PATH: I started off as a Graphic Designer, then went to Auckland University, where I got a BA degree in Art History and Italian Studies and a post-graduate Honours degree in Art History. I worked in the Art History field, then became a full-time artist, doing commissions. I eventually lost all of my senses and gave it up to be a writer :)
BAD HABITS: I'm a major procrastinator, I stay up way too late writing, and I get distracted easily unless it's doing something I love.
STATUS: Married to my high school sweetheart (which he hates me calling him). We have two kids.

Find Marita and her books

Stella Maris
The Legendary Rosaries #1
At her first Confirmation lesson, Catherine Lovich is given a beautiful rosary known as the Stella Maris. Unaware of the danger attached to it, she accepts the gift, soon discovering that each bead on the rosary holds a unique power, powers that only Merges can use. Descended from angels and demons, Merges have the innate ability to manipulate the elements as well as bring the past to the present through dreams.

After meeting Christopher Laboure on her first day back at Agnaru High, Catherine learns that the arrogant but heavenly-looking boy is a Merge—like herself. But unlike Catherine, Christopher is a Seraph, a Merge who controls the fire beads.

When a heated kiss goes wrong, Christopher finds out that Catherine is wearing the Stella Maris—the water rosary his grandfather wants to destroy.

Along with its owner.

STELLA MARIS will transport you into a realm where nothing is what it seems and everything holds hidden danger.
Teaser Excerpt:

Her eyes widened. She quickly backed up into the locker, fear colouring her expression. I knew why. The fire inside of me had lit up my eyes, turning them from brown to red. I clenched my hands into fists, willing them to change back, the flames already trying to burst forth. But it wouldn’t stop, my panic and hers now fuelling the fire. ~Chris.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: Of Flame and Fate by Cecy Robson

Of Flame and Fate
Author: Cecy Robson
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Self-Published
Weird Girls Book #8
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: NetGalley

Taran Wird, who commands the power to wield fire and lightning, is an oddity in the supernatural world. But neither Taran nor her unique sisters compare to the bizarre entity known as Destiny. And Taran is assigned to protect her.

Born of two witches, Destiny is revered among the supernatural elite for her acute ability to predict the future. Her biggest prophecy involves Taran’s sister, Celia, whom Destiny decreed will bear children strong enough to take on the evil that’s rising. Yet Destiny is not alone in her predictions, or individuality.

When Johnny Fate, a rock star among humans and a male version of Destiny is discovered, his powers and Destiny’s clash, triggering the start of Destiny’s demise and altering the fate of Celia’s unborn children.

Taran, her werewolf lover Gemini, and their allies must determine if it’s Fate who will decide what will become of Celia’s children, or if their lives and the world will perish with Destiny.

There is a lot going on in OF FLAME AND FATE, but unfortunately book eight just didn't do it for me. 

I think my biggest dislike of OF FLAME AND FATE was that there was just too much going on in most of it. I found myself getting confused during hectic scenes which left me frustrated and eventually bored. One good thing was that Taran isn't fighting herself throughout the book and she was in much better control of things because of it.

After the relationship turmoil in OF FLAME AND LIGHT I was glad that there wasn't a huge amount of strife between Taran and Gemini. There is still some distance between them and arguing going on, but they are together throughout the whole book so that is a plus.

There was plenty of action in OF FLAME AND FATE, but it always came at chaotic times and ended up just falling flat for me. I like to be glued to the pages during action scenes, but I found myself wanted to skip ahead during most of them.

I just couldn't get excited about much in OF FLAME AND FATE. The ending threw out some interesting information though, so fingers crossed that book nine turns out better for me.

I gave it 3/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill

The Hunt
Author: Chloe Neill
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Devil's Isle Book #3
ISBN:   0451473361
ISBN13: 9780451473363
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: NetGalley

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Chicagoland Vampires Novels--the hunter becomes the hunted in a New Orleans devastated by a Paranormal war....
When bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered that Claire Connolly was a Sensitive and infected with magic, he should have turned her in to be locked up in the prison district known as Devil's Isle. Instead, he helped her learn to control her power and introduced her to an underground group of Paranormals and humans who know the truth about the war and those who fought it.
Now the weight of Liam's own secrets has forced him into hiding. When a government agent is killed and Claire discovers that Liam is the prime suspect, she races to find him before the government can. But she'll discover proving his innocence is no simple matter. Their enemies are drawing closer, and time is running out...

THE SIGHT left me pretty heartbroken for Claire and I was looking forward to seeing what would happen next for her.

THE HUNT started off a bit slow and 5 weeks after the end of book two. There was a great mystery to THE HUNT that kept me reading, but it didn't live up to the last two books in the series for me.

After all the action of THE SIGHT, THE HUNT was a little disappointing in that category. It does feature some good action scenes, but not nearly as much as previous books and the story tended to drag a little without it.

Thankfully the Devil's Isle series is urban fantasy because the relationship between Claire and Liam is frustrating. There is progress, but it always seems like two steps forward, one step back with them. Hopefully the progress made in THE HUNT sticks for a while.

The characters are really what kept THE HUNT from being a total downer. They are all  interesting, bring something unique to the group and they work really well together.  Hopefully I can get back into the series with book four.

I gave it 3/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Promo + Giveaway: Night's Caress by Mary Hughes

Today is the release day blitz for NIGHT'S CARESS by Mary Hughes! Check it out and grab your copy today!

Night's Caress

Amazon | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

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 When artist Brie Lark left her vampire ex and her straitjacket of a hometown to breathe free in New York City, she promised herself two things: she’d never go back to Meiers Corner, and no more vampires. The last thing she expected—or wanted—was to be sent back home on an assignment. But her boss at the FBI needs her undercover on a murder case, working with a black-haired, black-eyed giant god of a man who’s her idea of perfection, except for one thing—he’s a vampire.

FBI Special Agent Seb Rikare is an ancient vampire hardened by loss. He’s cut all emotions to protect himself and leads a deliberately steady, almost sterile life. The brash young woman forced to pose as his lover irritates him, with her jangling bracelets and colorful hair. But as much as she irritates him, he finds himself drawn to her lively spirit and he’s tempted to make fantasy a reality.

Promo + Giveaway: Secret of Souls by Aubrie Nixon

Secret of Souls
 Age of Endings #1

The Empire of Lucent has stood for centuries as a beacon of strength and light. But now an otherworldly realm has unleashed an army of nightmarish creatures upon the peaceful empire, spreading a lethal plague called The Decay which consumes its victims mercilessly from the inside out.

The king of the Empire of Lucent calls upon “Lady of Death” Zephera Travelle—an infamous assassin with a weakness for braided cinnamon bread and a striking aptitude for murder and mayhem. He sends her on an impossible quest to find the one person who can concoct a cure and save the realm from total annihilation. 

Together with her best friend Zadkiel, mage extraordinaire Brenner, girly city-guard Oriana, and broody warrior Daegan, she embarks on a journey that will test her wits, will, and sanity. Along the way, she discovers that no one—and nothing—is as it seems, including herself.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Week in Review: 9/17-9/23

Books Received for Review

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Books I've Read

Everless by Sara Holland
Wolves and Roses by Christina Bauer
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross
Haunted Blade by J.C. Daniels

Reviews Posted

Blade of Darkness by Dianne Duvall
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday- Interview + Giveaway for All the Light There Is by Anise Eden

* Wednesday- Promo + Giveaway for Hinder: A Bender’s Novel by Kristin Ping

* Thursday- Promo + Giveaway for Haunting Savannah


* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

One Dark Throne
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN:   0062690450
ISBN13: 9780062690456
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Edelweiss

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.
I can honestly say that so much happened in ONE DARK THRONE that it's hard for me to figure out where to even start in my review.

There is so much going on with three different story lines for most of the book that it is sometimes hard to follow along, but in ONE DARK THRONE we do have all three Queens together more. I definitely started liking one or two sisters more than the other. They have very different personalities and goals. I was kind of shocked that the big twist at the end of THREE DARK CROWNS didn't become common knowledge and I am still very interested in seeing how the different families will take it when it does.

I was really hoping that book two's pace would be a little faster than THREE DARK CROWNS, but I still found some slow points throughout the book. Even though we learn a lot more about the Queen's I still feel like there is so much more to learn. I'm still torn between loving the series and being disappointed. I still can't picture what will happen next and for that reason alone I will be looking for book three when it comes out.

I gave it 3/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Promo + Giveaway: Haunting Savannah


Haunting Savannah 

Spend Halloween in Savannah with eight dark, seductive tales of ghosts, vampires, demons, witches, and warlocks.

Nine bestselling authors come together in this collection of eight BRAND NEW, Halloween themed novellas.

A look inside…

Ghost in a Bottle by Lia Davis and Kerry Adrienne

Anatoli La Croix has spent the last century cursed to exist in spirit form, locked inside a glass jar. When the beautiful and magickal Ophelia purchases the jar, he discovers he’s able to escape his confinement for short periods. For the first time in a century, he has hope. Could the beautiful witch be the one to break his curse? Or will she provoke the evil spirit that imprisoned him and bring dark magick’s wrath down on them both?

Forbidden Union by Deena Remiel

It’s Halloween in Savannah. Noah Blackman has come to Savannah, Georgia and Violet Adams’ home seeking to verify the origins of his family.  Could his roots begin with a runaway slave? This trip holds many surprises for the two as their family’s pasts collide and their present charts a course for romance and lasting love.

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True Companions by Ella Jade

Maxim and Grant have been lovers for a century. Companions in the truest sense. What happens when a human woman shares their home and their bed? Can two destined souls open their hearts to a third?

The Ultimate Act of Love by Evelyn Lederman

The last thing Kori Daniels expected to see on a ghost tour is an actual apparition. Although she can feel earth-bound spirits, she has never seen one. Already impacted by nightly amorous dreams since arriving in Savannah, her dream lover now has a face.

Newsletter sign-up:

The Haunting of Bellehaven by H.R. Boldwood

Self-reliant Harper McKinnon arrives in Savannah to claim her inheritance, Bellehaven Plantation—a proud antebellum estate. But the estate’s handsome caretaker, Clay Montgomery, is used to doing things his way. Fireworks fly as they are drawn ever closer, but the plantation’s ghostly secrets threaten both their love and their lives.

The Promise by Kim Carmichael

A mistake brought a demon to her, a promise kept them bound together.  It is a thin line between desire and love and good and evil when an incubus enters Leora Desmond’s life.

Twitter: @kimcarmichael4

Veil Break by Savannah Verte

Taken from the world he knows, to a place out of time, Holden Henry has a lot of questions when he is redeposited into his world, 150 years in the future. His Savannah isn’t the same anymore.

A Pirate’s Mask by ML Guida

Dark secrets haunt the Pirate’s House Inn in Savannah, Georgia.

Rosalind Gill’s stepfather is the culprit. He’s forcing her to remain silent and marry his evil partner or die. Her only hope is Phearson MacFie-a vampire pirate from another time. They must work together to not only save the innocent, but save themselves and discover true love.


Twitter: @mlguida2


Halloween, what’s not to love?

Halloween is one of the reasons I love fall. I really don’t why Halloween is my favorite holiday. Okay so it’s being able to dress up, scare people, and the candy! Now that I’m older I get to watch the kids have fun picking costumes, going to fall festivals and parties, and just having fun pretending.

Halloween is also a time to reflect. It’s when I start looking at what goals I’ve achieved and where I want to go in the New Year.

What do you love most about Halloween?
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Promo + Giveaway: Hinder: A Bender’s Novel by Kristin Ping

Hinder: A Bender's Novel
The Guardian of Monsters #1
Amazon Google Play Kobo BN
Ethan Sutcliff seems like a normal seventeen-year-old—at least that’s what he’s trying to portray. In a secret society run by the Supernaturals, Ethan is what witches call a Bender. Benders are Witches’ Guardians, who are able to control a witches’ ability, bend it, or move it away from harming humans. In Ethan’s case, he is able to bend the Earth element. But at the age of fifteen, he lost all connection to it, and the reasons behind it could only mean one of two things: His Wielder is either dead, or hiding out somewhere.

Alex Burgendorf has been living in her aunt’s locket for the past sixteen years with her mother—a Fire Wielder, and her father—a Water Wielder. For sixteen years, her parents vowed to protect her, and they have, as she is the last Earth wielding witch. However, time is running out. Alex must find her Bender, or the fate of the Supernaturals might be at stake.


Kristin resides in South Africa with her husband, two beautiful girls and two bulldogs that tries to eat her house.

She has been writing for the past eight years and her first debut novel, Hinder: A Bender's novel will be published 2018 by Fire Quill Publishing.

When she isn't writing, she is spending her time with her family, or trying to teach her two bulldogs to not eat her house.

Find Kristin and her books
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Want to win a Mac. Every two to three months, Kristin Ping is giving away a mac, all you have to do is subscribe to her newsletter, confirm to the confirmation email that will either be in your inbox or spam, and open the letter. 

Find the secret facebook group, join and enter the giveaway. It’s as easy as that. We even give you extra entries by inviting your friends to subscribe too. We already gave away the first laptop.

The Ping Crate is a crate filled with goodies for readers. It’s built around the theme of the Guardian of Monster Series. The first few boxes will be built around witches. Think journals, cups, books, novelty jewelry, swag and something electronic that will push the worth of the crate up to $700 and more. 

All you have to do is stay subscribed to the subscription list and open the monthly newsletter that Kristin will send out to find the rafflecopter for you to enter in this lovely giveaway.
It’s a box full of reader goodies and a surprise. Sometimes it will be a gift card if there isn’t any electronics. 

Believe me it will be worth your time. 

PRE ORDER HINDER FOR .99 Yes, you’ve heard right. The pre order special is .99 only. The price will go up to $2.99 in its first month, think of it as a release day blitz, and from the second month it will go up to its normal price of $4.99. So it’s a major deal of getting the pre-order for just .99.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: Blade of Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Blade of Darkness
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Self-Published
ASIN:   B073V23CGT
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Review Copy Source: Author

Return to the "utterly addictive" (RT Book Reviews) world of New York Times bestselling author Dianne Duvall's Immortal Guardians.

Dana Pembroke has been able to glimpse the future of those she touches for as long as she can remember. But she never saw Aidan coming. When the tall, dark Celt with the charming grin yet world-weary eyes walks through her door, the future she sees for him is one full of violence, danger, deception... and passion. Because amidst the terrifying battles that unfold in her visions, she also sees herself in Aidan's arms and in his bed. Dana knows she should keep her distance, but the tender moments and laughter they share entice her even as she finds herself thrust into a world of vampires, immortals, and other preternatural beings.

Immortal Guardian Aidan O'Byrne has been hunting and slaying psychotic vampires for nearly three thousand years, so visions of bloody battles don't trouble him. The battles Dana foresees, however, show Aidan's brethren turning against him, so he can't help but feel alarmed. While he spends as much time as he can with Dana, struggling to decipher her dire predictions, Aidan finds himself utterly smitten. Hope rises that he has finally found a woman who can banish the darkness and loneliness that plague him. But when vampires begin targeting Dana and a powerful enemy spawns chaos, will fate grant them time to find happiness together?

One of my biggest fears when reading series with different main characters in each story is that I won't love the new couple as much as I have loved the old. After 7 books, Dianne Duvall hasn't let me down yet and has made it easy to love each and every Immortal Guardian and love interest she has made come to life.

You should remember Aidan, he is a newbie to our favorite Immortal Guardian family, but he made a big impression when he broke into headquarters to steal a list of gifted ones in hopes of finally finding his better half. It works, but now those gifted ones he has come in contact with are going missing and it not only threatens his standing with his Immortal Guardian family, it also threatens the newly found love he has found with Dana.

I really enjoyed getting to know both Aidan and Dana. Dana handled everything thrown her way in a much better way than I think I would have. Not only was she strong and firm in just about everything she said and did, but she was so loving and understanding. She could be completely scared to death, but her actions were fierce. I liked her a lot. Aidan didn't always make the smartest decisions, but I found him to be extremely loyal and generous. He deserved Dana's love and the Immortal Guardians' trust and he got it. The attraction between the two was hot and they made a great couple.

Like with all the other books in the series BLADE OF DARKNESS was full of action and danger. All of the Immortal Guardians worked together to take down their shared enemies and came out stronger after it. I wish the books came out faster, but I'm always willing to wait for the next installment. What couple will be next?

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

New Release: 9/17-9/23

Monday, September 18, 2017

Interview + Giveaway: All the Light There Is by Anise Eden

UFI welcomes Author Anise Eden. Thanks for Joining us!!

Urban Fantasy Investigations, thank you so much for having me on your blog to celebrate the release of ALL THE LIGHT THERE IS, the third and final book in The Healing Edge paranormal romance/suspense series! It is such a pleasure to be here.  

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview?

My mother taught me some epic Southern cooking skills. However, I hardly ever cook, because it’s rare for me to have the time and space to do it the way it ought to be done!

What do you enjoy doing on your down time?

Most of the time, I enjoy simple pleasures: sharing a meal with loved ones, reading, playing with the dog. I also love traveling, especially to explore history, and taking in a really good play or concert—experiences that transform me or teach me something new.

What is your Favorite part of writing?

It’s hard to say, since every part has aspects that are fun and aspects that are challenging. There is a wonderful satisfaction, though, that comes from collaborating with a great editor to mold a book into the very best possible version of itself. To me, that process is very close to magic.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write?

Other than needing solitude and quiet to help me focus, there isn’t anything in particular. Although coffee helps. And good snacks. And my dog sleeping at my feet. And my husband being nearby. So, yes, maybe a few routines, now that you mention it!

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres?

When it comes to Urban Fantasy/Paranormal books, I’m a voracious reader of series. Over the past few years, some of my favorites have been Kelley Armstrong’s Cainesville novels; Christine Feehan’s GhostWalker novels; Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books; Rosanna Leo’s Gemini Island Shifter Series; and Chloe Neill’s Devil Isle novels. There are many others, too, and I’m always on the hunt for new worlds to explore.

How would you pitch ALL THE LIGHT THERE IS and The Healing Edge Series to someone who has not heard of it before?

I might describe The Healing Edge Series as “Medium” meets “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” without the vampires and slaying, or “X Files” meets “True Blood” without the blood or supes. ☺

As for ALL THE LIGHT THERE IS, this last installment in The Healing Edge paranormal romance/suspense trilogy casts its group of paranormally-gifted healers into a new and galvanizing role as they uncover a deep web of subterfuge that puts them in the crosshairs. In this crucible of science and spirituality, danger and destiny, the relationship between Cate and Ben deepens, and the MacGregor Group discovers shocking truths about their true potential. ALL THE LIGHT THERE IS ties together the interpersonal connections and larger plots of the first two books, acting as both the culmination of the series and a broadening of the imagination for the future of the MacGregor Group.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you?

I’m currently working on a new book that I hope will launch another series. It’s a paranormal romance/suspense novel set in a hospital with a unique cast of characters and a wacky apocalyptic subplot. I hope my readers will enjoy this new adventure as much as I’m enjoying writing it!


Before becoming an award-winning author, ANISE EDEN wanted to be a wildlife photographer. Unfortunately, a strong aversion to large insects, poisonous snakes, and sharks―along with a cat allergy that might well extend to tigers―limited that career option. Also, Anise always roots for the gazelle, and we all know how that usually turns out. Fortunately, Anise’s voracious hunger for reading kept her occupied, eventually morphing into a passion for writing quirky stories filled with heart, humor, and imagination. Anise loves that through writing, she can live out any adventure she likes without the need for antivenom or antihistamines.

Find Anise  and her books

All the Light There
The Healing Edge #3
Amazon BN
Psychotherapist Cate Duncan is done with danger. Her whirlwind weeks of training at the MacGregor Group’s parapsychology clinic, while exhilarating, have also brought one crisis after another. So when their research colleague Skeet offers Cate and her boss-turned-boyfriend Ben some time away at his secluded hunting lodge, even though it’ll be a working vacation, they jump at the chance.

But the idyllic Mercier Lodge is teeming with secrets. An aura reader and a telepath who work with Skeet reveal his unorthodox research methods, triggering the MacGregor Group’s suspicions. Then there’s the matter of a tragic death that occurred at the lodge over a year ago, and how it connects to unsolved mysteries from Cate’s past―mysteries she may not be ready to confront.

As they delve into Mercier’s unsavory history, Ben and Cate stick close together, trusting in their love for each other to keep them safe. But when a plot separates them, Cate must rely on the MacGregor Group’s paranormal abilities, some surprise allies, and her own determination to track Ben down and crack Mercier’s mysteries before the strange place claims any more victims.

ParaTrain Internship, Day Six

It’s just a meeting. Nothing to be nervous about. I wiped my damp palms on my skirt and ordered my brain to focus on something else. Like the Jag, I thought. Focus on the fact that you’re finally getting a ride in the Jag.
And not just any Jag—the British 1936 Jaguar SS100 Ben had restored. He’d found the car in a barn in Pennsylvania, sitting on blocks and covered in hay bales. Now, it looked like it had just left the showroom. My fingertips roamed across the soft leather seat as I admired each piece of shining chrome and the deep glow of the wood on the dash. The car’s transformation was a testament to Ben’s workmanship—not to mention to his patience and tenacity when it came to the things he loved.
The things—and the people, I thought, smiling down at my ring. I hadn’t exactly made things easy for Ben, but now, two gold birds were wrapped around my finger, holding a lustrous piece of Scottish agate between their wings. He’d wanted to give me a tangible reminder of how he felt, a talisman to guard against anxiety and doubt.
I stole a glance at Ben. He was completely in his element, left hand loosely holding the steering wheel, right elbow propped up on the door. Everything about him was solid and squared-off, from the angle of his jaw to the way he carried his shoulders. These qualities were augmented by his charcoal gray suit and crisp white shirt—worn sans tie, as usual. I marveled that no matter what internal battles he might be fighting, Ben always exuded a quiet confidence.
“Enjoying yourself?” he asked.
“Completely.” I closed my eyes and inhaled my new favorite scent—a mixture of fine wool, cotton, and vintage leather that clung to Ben like an olfactory tattoo. “My mom would have loved this, you know.”
His light brown eyes softened. “You think so?”
“Absolutely.” Every summer when I was a kid, she had taken me to the local car shows. Back then, we could only look, never touch. Riding along with Ben, I felt like a glamorous movie star. I struck my best Hollywood pose, and he smiled.
It was such a pleasure—not to mention a relief—to see Ben relax after the nonstop drama of the past two weeks. There had been too many life-and-death situations, too much tension. And more than anyone, Ben had earned a vacation. With that in mind, after our meeting at the Smithsonian, we planned to spend the rest of the weekend on the Eastern Shore. That evening, we had a dinner date with my mother’s cousin, Ardis, and a reservation at a nice bed-and-breakfast. Sunday’s schedule was still open. I thought we might head to the ocean; I loved the beach in the fall. Or we could take the ferry to Smith Island; wander around St. Michaels, go sailing…. As I considered the possibilities, I nearly forgot to be nervous.
Then we entered downtown D.C. I sobered as stately suburban homes gave way to modern office buildings and massive structures of chiseled granite. Before long, the Smithsonian office building came into view—ten stories of tinted glass reflecting the cloudless blue sky like a darkened mirror. It took up half a city block.
Ben caught me biting my lip. “You know there’s nothing to be nervous about, right?”
“I know,” I lied. The truth was, I couldn’t believe we were actually there. It had been less than twenty-four hours since Ben told his mother, Dr. MacGregor, about our group’s experience with the double kheir ritual. Now we were on our way to meet with her world-class paranormal research team—and not just to exchange information. We’d been asked to give a demonstration, as well.
I had dressed up for the occasion, wearing a dove gray pencil skirt and a wine-colored cashmere sweater my mother had given me one Christmas. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t belong at the Smithsonian—not as anything more than a tourist, anyway.
“Well, just in case,” he said, “let me remind you that you have nothing to prove here. None of us do. My mother already told her colleagues what happened with our ritual, and they’re keen to know more. But they don’t have any definite expectations; after all, half of them still think the double kheir is just a myth.” In a conspiratorial tone, he added, “Think of it this way. I know you have a lot of questions. Today, you can ask anything you like.”
“Hmm.” I bit the tip of my finger. “Anything?”
“Like whether The Da Vinci Code was based in fact? And whether they’re all members of the Illuminati?”
He chuckled as we pulled into the underground parking garage. “If you ask them those questions, I’ll make sure you get a substantial year-end bonus.”
“Deal,” I said, smiling tentatively. I was still getting used to the idea that my new boyfriend was also my new boss.
Ben was the manager of the MacGregor Group, an alternative healing clinic founded by his mother and housed in a repurposed church. I first met him when my former employer, Dr. Nelson, sent me to the MacGregor Group for treatment. My mother’s recent suicide had left me in pieces, unable to function. As close as she and I had been, somehow I hadn’t seen that my mother was in crisis. Her shocking loss had debilitated me, and I could barely leave my house, let alone return to my job as a psychotherapist. What Dr. Nelson hadn’t told me was that Dr. MacGregor was a psychiatrist who specialized in paranormal gifts, and that instead of “treating” me, she and Ben were enrolling me in ParaTrain, a paranormal skills training program. My first lesson had been to learn the definition of an empath—and that I was one.
Since then, my life had changed so dramatically that it was unrecognizable. Dr. Nelson, Dr. MacGregor, and Ben had all worked hard to convince me that because I was an empath, the key to maintaining my mental health was to leave my job as a therapist and go to work for the MacGregor Group. The idea of leaving my beloved therapy clients was nothing short of heartrending. But after due consideration and several persuasive paranormal experiences, I had agreed to take their advice. Before I could officially start my new job, though, I had to complete a three-week training program: one week of preparation, followed by a two-week internship.
My time in ParaTrain had flown by. Although I was starting my final week of the internship, I still didn’t feel anywhere near ready to take on my new role as an empath healer. Before I met the MacGregors, I hadn’t even known that empaths existed, so I was still struggling to find my bearings. And the unexpected romance between Ben and me was keeping me permanently off-balance. Add in the mind-blowing experience we’d had with the double kheir the previous week, and…. Well, I didn’t even know what had happened there, so I was fairly certain that I’d make a fool of myself trying to describe it to the Smithsonian research team.
That thought had me wiping my palms on my skirt again. “I am nervous, though, about this demonstration we’re supposed to give. The researchers may not have any definite expectations, but surely they’re hoping to see something. And unlike the rest of you, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
“You’ll be fine, Cate,” Ben reassured me as we pulled into a parking space. “Kai’s got it all figured out. He said he has something simple and easy planned, so just follow his instructions. Even if nothing interesting happens, that’s still useful information for my mother’s team. They’re scientists, remember? In an experiment, even a negative result is valuable.”
I had no reason to doubt Kai. He was a highly capable expert in ancient rituals, among other things. But when it came to the paranormal, I had a track record of unintentionally messing things up. “What if I forget our instructions and start reading people’s emotions?”
Dr. MacGregor had passed on a request from her project director that we refrain from using our paranormal gifts on the members of the research team without their specific permission. Apparently, they were much more comfortable observing others than being observed themselves.
“The fact that you’re already worrying about that means it’s highly unlikely you’ll forget,” he said. “And even if you do, who’s going to know?”
Only everyone, I thought. My poker face was nonexistent. I buried my face in my hands. “I’m just afraid that I’m going to embarrass myself. And you. And your mother. And disappoint everyone.”
Ben turned off the ignition. I felt him lean towards me and gently tuck an escaped strand of hair into my braid. “That’s not possible.”
His optimism was endearing, if ill-founded. “Oh, I assure you, it’s possible.”

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